Some Thoughts on the EU Elections
As a left-winger, hoping for a future of international cooperation, the results of the recent EU elections have left me pretty despondent.
In the UK it has unhelpfully been touted as a proxy second referendum on Brexit.
The SNP’s strong showing probably makes it safe to still claim Scotland as a majority remain country. In Wales, however, the situation is more complicated. The Brexit Party came out on top; there is no way to spin the results to deny this. Many Remainers however have done the math and worked out that explicitly Remain parties beat explicitly Leave ones (and point to Plaid Cymru beating Labour in a Welsh election for the first time running on a pro-EU ticket). But this is to ignore the fact that Labour voters, despite not knowing the party’s stance on Brexit, will have an opinion, and (while I enjoyed seeing the Tory vote decimated) how many Conservative voters were happy their party had resisted calls for a no-deal Brexit? And how many are pinning their hopes on the deplorable Boris Johnson getting the job done?
Basically, on Brexit, these elections tell us nothing.
In Wales the biggest political issue is undeniably austerity, casting a shadow over the lives of everyone in the country, but the subject was absent from debate in these elections. Even the arguments of 2016, including the fact Wales is a net beneficiary of EU membership verses the lack of material benefits experienced (which at the time ignored domestic austerity) was barely touched upon this time. The most important issue facing the majority of people in Wales, the UK and much of Europe was omitted, replaced with meaningless soundbites.
I consider myself a committed remainer, but in these polarised times I take care not to oversimplify the issue, making it a case of right and wrong. Too many have idealised the EU as an institution, believing its sole, benign purpose to be peace on the continent. This is to ignore the violence beyond its borders it participates in, while denying the hypocrisy; the systematic mistreatment of refugees, the bodies floating in EU waters; the deafening silence in the face of Spanish police brutality in Catolonia; and everything about the Greek…