Monday, 27 May 2019
Three cheers and one big warning.
My old friend Daniel didn't get elected as a Green MP. Not any great surprise in the East Midlands which is seldom kind to third parties electorally. But two friends from my days in ULS did win seats for the Lib Dems - Martin Horwood and Jane Brophy. I particularly remember Jane as a strong campaigner on acid rain and climate change. Personally I'm also pleased to see Molly Scott Cato returned as a Green MEP.
Inevitably the Euro election results are being seen in the UK as a Brexit referendum proxy. But I think Brexit just magnified in the UK a trend evident across most of Europe. The parties that made gains were Liberals, Greens and populists. The far right surge some had predicted didn't happen though they scored in France, Italy and Hungary.
The big losers were largely the established power holding parties. It is amazing the Labour has no MEPs in Scotland and came third in Wales while the Tories could only muster probably 4 (Scottish results pending), and their worst results since they became a party in 1834!
So what of the warning? There are no pan European parties in EU elections currently. MEP's represent national parties who federate or combine into groups in the parliament. And likely now the largest national party in the parliament will be Farage's Brexit party! And that is all too typical of what happens when consensus breaks down and views polarise - populists gain undue sway. Of course if Britain does actually leave Farage's influence there will be terminated. But that's little comfort - populists are a bit like hydra heads - chop one off and a couple more appear.
If Europe and Britain have started to see the critical need to address ecological and human issues beyond just economics, that's good. But the transition from here to that being a major force will be turbulent and difficult. That uncertain ground between the turning of major political tides is an opportunity also for populists and demagogues . Beware.