Tomorrow’s European Parliament election promises to deliver a historic result in our democratic history. Polls and surveys suggest a huge hit to the Conservatives and Labour vote share. Daniel Reast lists his predictions and reflects on a difficult campaign.
It is an election no-one expected us to be involved in. Even last Christmas you would have happily predicted we would have left the EU by now. This reality has called for rejoicing in the anti-Brexit camps, and virulent hardening of opinion in the opposite. For the two main parties, this election was to be fought using stone tools compared to the tanks and guns of Farage and his Brexit elite. The Tories have been practically absent from campaigning. Solemn and glum are the candidates’ faces – this impending doom, a wasted effort.
Let’s look at the facts going into this election:
- The Conservative Party has morphed into a zombie in a blue blazer. Recent polling has them ranked fifth in vote share. It’s possible they could lose all their MEPs.
- Labour are in third with the potential to lose MEPs in certain regions. They may even come second in London.
- The Liberal Democrats are predicted to exceed expectations in second place, with the possibility of increasing their MEP numbers by 10.
- The Greens are also poised to add numbers to the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.
- Regional parties are riding high off the frustration with unionist politics, with the SNP and Plaid Cymru hosting modest polling results.
- Farage’s new party is looking to sweep the boards and dominate the results with at least one MEP elected in every region.
It is not a shock that Farage’s party will win the most seats. At the last EU election, his leadership of UKIP allowed him to claim a victory in a national election – a line he will no doubt employ again. His candidates have been vetted in an excellent article linking them to a wide variety of conservative, far-right, and reactionary political causes. It is fair to mention that the monarch of this group is himself a sinister figure, ironically being targeted for investigation by an EU financial scrutiny committee. Nevertheless, their campaign has been superfluous. Regular rallies and public meetings, taking candidates to Labour heartlands and Tory strongholds in equal measure. It got Ann Widdecombe, a former MP who I would described as disgustingly Conservative, cheered and applauded in a working man’s club in West Yorkshire. A dramatic social shift harnessed and controlled by Farage.
For this election, simplicity was the key to campaigning. No talk of customs arrangements, ‘max fac solutions’, or backstop. It has taken nearly three years of muddling but we are back to where we started – leaving or staying in the EU. While the Tories and Labour continue to waffle on about the gems of ‘Brexitology’, their supporters have turned their interest outwards to simpler and more constructive parties.
Labour’s campaign was framed into a culture war. A vote for them, they argued, was a vote to stop the far-right and Farage. As the largest opposition party and network of activists in the country, you would expect this hard sell to be successful. But this highlighted culture war has only pushed loyal voters away from Labour, as their policy on Brexit remains every foggy and ambiguous however much Lord Adonis spits at us. Other parties, including independence parties, have lapped up the frustrated supporters and will do their causes justice. Seeing Plaid Cymru beat Labour into third will be a bitter taste to an already struggling Labour Party.
So, who do we vote for? It is simple really – whoever you think deserves your vote. Questions have been raised about the use of tactical voting in this election, with services like Remain Voter causing eyebrows to shudder. There’s no doubt that this vote is a binary choice between Leave and Remain. But a democracy only works through the principles of its people – so vote true. It’s your vote, no-one else’s.🔷
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