So election day has been and gone, and what a depressing event it has turned out to be.
I am not very political, but I do try to vote. This gets increasingly frustrating, however, as it becomes more and more difficult to know who to vote for. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people with strongly held political convictions, at least I would feel happier about where I put my cross on the ballot paper.
My problem is that when I look at the various manifestos, I agree with aspects of most of them, but I also disagree with aspects of most of them too. There is also the nagging certainty that, no matter what the manifesto actually says, it is unlikely that this is what they will actually do.
I don’t believe that politicians set out to be dishonest. Maybe I am naive, but I believe that anyone who decides to devote their lives to politics probably does so with the best of intentions – whether you agree with those intentions is a separate matter.
Once in power, however, every politician’s number one priority seems to become staying there. This means pandering to all of the conflicting demands, opinions and invective that is spewed forth daily by the press and social media. You can’t please everyone so, ultimately they end up pleasing nobody.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that turnout for the elections was so low. According to the BBC just 33.8% of people in the UK voted in the European elections, meaning that 31 million people failed to do so. To put that into context, only around 4 million people voted for each of the top three parties.
Perhaps it also comes as no surprise that people who do vote are increasingly voting for the more extremist parties: at least you know what they stand for. Or do you?
UKIP have done remarkably well out of both the European and Local elections. They and other far right parties have made great strides by appealing to the little Englander in us. We don’t want all of these foreigners in Europe dictating what we do, and we don’t want them all coming over here stealing our jobs.
Maybe that does strike a chord with many, but what are they going to do about it? And what are their other policies? People seem all too ready to ignore the various examples touted by the press of UKIP bigotry, homophobia, hypocrisy and general lunacy. Perhaps this has all been a plot by the media to single them out for ridicule, but there seems to have been a lot of it to find.
But on a more mundane level, people seem happy to vote for UKIP even though they express more extreme views on things like banking reform, NHS funding, etc than the Conservatives who they despise for these views.
But what really confuses me is why would you vote for UKIP as your MEP?
If you voted UKIP I think it is fair to assume that you are against our membership of the European Union. Fair enough if that is what you believe. But your MEP is not going to get you out of Europe – that can only be done by a referendum by the Government, which the Conservatives have promised if they win the next election.
No, what you want from your MEP is someone credible who is willing and able to argue the case for Britain and improve our deal. What you get from UKIP, by their own admission, is the behaviour of a spoiled teenager who doesn’t turn up to meetings because “Europe’s rubbish”.
I am sure the other European countries are gutted as they go ahead and do exactly as they like in our absence.
The only consolation is that other European countries seem to be in the same boat and are sending equally radical Euro-sceptics to fight their corner, so maybe we don’t have to worry after all as there won’t be anyone there to argue with anyway.