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22nd May 2019

Green, yellow, red?

Oli Storey writes about the upcoming EU Elections; what should be an opportunity to highlight some key issues has become a second referendum by proxy
Green, yellow, red?
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Although one cannot dismiss the significance of the recent council elections, the EU elections approaching are of much graver importance. Beyond the various talking points of regular European elections, the 23 May election is practically, if not actually, a second referendum – which is forcing us to prioritise the issue of Brexit above all others.

Voters on both the right and the left are deciding their allegiances based on this polarising issue, pushing them away from the two main parties. The right vote is unevenly divided between the Brexit Party and UKIP. The left vote, more-well spread, is split mainly between the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and the Scottish National Party.

The left’s diverse opinions are a disadvantage in these circumstances as we fail to represent a united opposition, leaving the Brexit Party polling in the lead ahead of the elections. In this case, our Remain leadership has failed to summon the political acumen necessary to oppose this rapidly advancing far-right surge. Instead of being so split, the left should stand together on a single ticket and aggregate their collective electoral power. The incompetency of the part of the remain parties is glaring; vastly improving the chances of the Brexit Party.

Now Remain voters, such as myself, are wondering how we can most effectively oppose Brexit in this next election.

Labour’s flimsy Brexit stance is adding fuel to the flames of distrust, which are fanned so eagerly by Nigel Farage and heating our public discourse to dangerous temperatures. Never mind the Parliamentary arithmetic, they should not be abstaining in as a Leave-Remain limbo and allow a second referendum to happen accidentally. Their lack of a firm position on Brexit has not been mirrored by their commitments to other matters such as austerity.

Remain voters are therefore left with a narrowing scope of choice. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens, and the Scottish and Welsh national parties are the only viable options on the left, yet with stark policy differences. Whilst the first two openly support a second referendum, the SNP have a particularly agenda which could mean another independence vote ad further national division.

I personally have had my attention drawn to the Green Party, with our looming climate breakdown threat, it is their party that speaks the loudest. And it is pleasant to see Labour warming to their radical policies, and perhaps a vote for Labour would be more effective; carrying more weight given their size compared to the Greens.

However, in this election, my primary consideration has been over-ridden by Brexit and the immediate crisis of surging far-right extremism in politics and the fascistic tendencies this has brought up. These facts make opposing Nigel Farage’s anonymous, and unaccountable political machine imperative if we wish to reverse this rot in our democracy and society.

Similar to the council vote, the outcome of these EU elections will be interpreted as either a legitimisation, or not, of Brexit. It is imperative the Remain bloc, as the anti-Tory vote did in the 2017 General Election, employ our vote as powerfully as possible.

Casting my vote on the 23 May, these pressing issues and which party answers them most effectively will be in my mind. Which party commands the votes Labour are losing? The Greens, although represented equitably under the Proportional Representation system, will not pose the electoral weight of say, the Lib Dems, unfortunately.

Lending the Liberal Democrats your vote will ensure it is most effective, boosting Liberal Democrat majorities and challenging an explosive Brexit Party, which is consuming a nationalistic swell of electoral support. We must prevent this party from damaging our democratic interests in Brussels and at home; we must show by our public vote that this country’s public does not condone the growing far-right tendencies of Nigel Farage and his supporters.

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