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The people have spoken, now that the results of the European elections are known. But what have they actually said?

The Eurosceptic parties have, on the whole, done well. But is it meaningful to lump the Green party alongside the BNP in totalling up all the votes for the Eurosceptics? UKIP hides from no-one its desire to see Britain leave the European Union, but David Cameron’s Conservatives have specifically ruled that out as a policy outcome. There’s a lot of unease about the EU visible in the votes cast, but there’s a big difference between that and a vote of no confidence in the EU as a whole.

Nor was there a consistent swing from the pro-Europeans to the Eurosceptics. In Scotland, the beneficiaries of the decline in the Labour vote were the SNP, not the Conservatives or UKIP, both of whose share of the vote declined. Perhaps the main factor was not views about Europe at all, but views about the Labour government. If the biggest pro-European party declines for other reasons, the pro-European vote will fall with it.

And, how much can we actually read into a European election in any case? Everybody knows that you can’t change the government as the result of a European election, and the powers of the European Parliament, while considerable, don’t apply to the most important issues of taxation and public spending, so turnout is lower and the PR system makes it more rewarding to vote for minority parties. Was the election last Thursday a good guide to anything?

And lastly, let us not forget that this was not an election only in the UK. Across 27 countries, in an unprecedented display of international democracy, citizens cast their votes for MEPs to serve for the next five years. In most countries, Eurosceptic parties remained firmly in the minority. There is life in the European idea yet.

UK election results here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/elections/euro/09/html/ukregion_999999.stm

EU-wide results here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/elections/euro/09/flash/html/eu.stm

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  1. The EU elections are over.
    Across Europe only some 44% of the electorate voted. In the UK 35%. The Conservatives, for all their boasting, accounted for less than 10% of the electorate. In Eastern England five at least of the MEPs do not support the organisation that pays them.
    As far as I can see the situation verges on tragedy. Or perhaps comedy.
    An organisation cannot continue with such a low level of public support. Unless something changes the EU will stagger on and sooner or later collapse with tragic consequences for us all. The Soviet Union was more popular than the European Union.
    Only the Liberals and their coalition partners seem to know what they want at the European level. But they are a minority and cannot compensate for the low turnout.
    Parties talk about leaving the EU, or opposing the Lisbon Treaty.
    Not one tells us how we leave the EU and what the alternative is. A massive leap into the dark. And for sure the law of unintended consequences will take effect.
    The opposition to the EU seems to centre on immigration. A vague concept because there are two types of immigration
    • from the EU, where we are treaty bound to allow it (and conversely it allows the British to live elsewhere in the EU,
    • from the rest of the world.
    We seem to have 50% of the population hostile to immigration, and, in the BNP case, wanting people born here to leave.
    All parties promise to do something about immigration. What, and how, they do not tell us. And from what I know, Britain is already doing more than enough. It is easier to enter through the eye of a needle than to get into Britain.
    For me this is no academic matter as my daughter in law and hence two grandsons are ethnic African.
    So it seems to me traditional politics at the European level, whether Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem has failed. People are turning to ‘extremists’ as they feel the traditional parties do not reflect their views.
    But sheep can be led. Politicians have failed to sell the EU. The EU has failed to sell itself.
    The politicians have failed to lead. They have stirred up trouble for their own ends.
    What is to be done to keep the EU alive and well? Perhaps a Europe wide party not contaminated by member state politics. Someone to speak up for the EU.
    And politicians who lead rather than pander to the lowest taste to secure themselves sinecures in Brussels (this is impossible).
    Hence there is a crying need for an organisation to promote the virtues and advantages of the EU.
    Is the European Movement up to the challenge?

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