Vote for Europe

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The European elections are coming this week (23 May), and responses here have ranged from “I’m not voting because we were supposed to have left by now” (cue rolling your eyeballs) or “Why bother voting if we’re going to be leaving anyway?” (more eyeball rolling). I gently suggest that perhaps, since the British government has not been able to manage even agreeing to start the negotiations for leaving the EU in the last three years, that maybe we should all vote and get people in the European Parliament that not only represent our interests, but our beliefs. Currently, we have people such as Nigel Farage, who does not. Or not mine, at least.

Indeed, Farage and his cronies are hypocrites of the highest order – he has never held a UK parliamentary seat, or been an elected official in this country. He can’t get elected here in Britain, so he has had to be elected as an MEP, where due to lower turnouts and general indifference, he has managed to gain a seat for the last 20 years. The very organisation that provides him with his platform and his income, the European Parliament, he disparages at every opportunity. His wife is German and his two younger children all have access to EU citizenship, whether or not the UK stays in the EU or not.

Frankly, I like people to have some skin in the game, as they say in the US – he doesn’t care what happens either way, as it’s nothing to do with him in the end. It is not his kids who will have to go scratching for visas to live and work in the EU in the future, or his company that will have to deal with the tariffs post-Brexit, or will be left puzzling over where the shipments are (they are in customs and the agents are enjoying their cheese). He doesn’t have to sort out the eternal mess that will be the Irish backstop. To him, it’s just a popularity contest and a platform to spout his views. It gives him somewhere to bloviate, like his “friend” in the White House.

But the problem is with European Parliament voting too. In its drive to include everyone, we wind up including people like him and his ilk, because they can get three votes more than someone else (as European election turnouts are so low). Sigh.

Nobody said democracy was easy, but it is worth defending from whoever tries to assail it – whether it’s the UK’s far right, or your local right-wing party. Vote on Thursday 23 May for whoever you want, but do vote. But remember, elections have consequences, and please use your vote responsibly. If we don’t believe in Europe and vote for those will defend it, who will?

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