For the first time in over 30 years – during which time I have taken part in every local, national and European election – I am sitting out the campaign for this week’s European Elections.
It is not that I am worried about the inevitable hostile reception I would find on the doorstep – having just fought the local elections I know how people feel. The problem is that I do not know what I would be campaigning for or what I could possibly say to voters.
If – and that is a big ‘if’ that is getting bigger by the day – we do leave the EU, the MEPs we are voting for on Thursday might never get to take their seats. Or if they do, they won’t be there for very long.
Or if they do take their seats and sit in the European Parliament for any length of time, the chances are they won’t have been elected on any policy other than whether they support Brexit or not. So we could be ending up with elected representatives that are either sitting in a Parliament they don’t wish to be part of, or are sitting there on a promise to defy the result of the referendum in 2016! Neither seems like a good idea.
The decision as to whether we should remain or leave was decided almost 3 years ago in the largest democratic vote ever seen in this country. But the elections on Thursday will be a proxy for a ‘second referendum’ – and one side or the other in the ongoing Brexit debate will claim the result gives them a mandate.
Which then presents a further problem for anyone campaigning in these elections – ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ is not something that is split along party lines – or at least, not along traditional party lines. Within both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party you will find people at opposite ends of the Brexit argument.
So who should a lifelong Tory or Socialist support in these elections? Do they stick to voting for the party they have no doubt supported through thick and thin for their entire life, or do they vote for a party that truly represents their view on Brexit without ambiguity?
I don’t have any answers – I am as much a spectator to the whole European Elections / Brexit mess as everyone else. So the only thing I can realistically do is to sit these elections out, and vote (or not) on Thursday, just like everyone else.