Why I voted & who I voted for in the EU elections.
Well first I have to say what a nightmare! The D’Hondt voting system which penalises the smaller Parties, one strong pro Brexit message and politicians still playing Party politics rather than considering what’s best for the country as a whole makes this election unusual to say the least.
Add to that, my fellow political addicts are crunching the numbers, looking at the polls and at the previous (2014) results. I find it almost impossible to extrapolate from previous results. Politics is broken. At the very least politics has changed markedly in the last 5 years. Polls have been known to be inaccurate in the past and frankly they are not going to give a simple answer to the question – who do I vote for.
I’m in Scotland of course which has more options than some other areas. So a quick rundown of the Parties.
SNP. Pro peoples vote and remaining in the EU. The top two names on the list are seasoned politicians and will represent us well in the EU Parliament. Number one even has an office in the Highlands – leading to extra ‘brownie points’ from me. However 1 & 2 will be elected in any event in this election. And too much about the next debate on independence – now is not the time.
Conservatives. They are the Party that got us into this mess. No manifesto. No local activity seen. No chance of my vote.
Labour. Manifesto still sitting on the fence and whatever the actual candidates say we have no idea which side of the fence the party will be when it gets down.
Greens. Pro EU, pro peoples vote, pro environment but little observed local activity (though much on FB & twitter this last weekend).
Lib Dems. Flip side of SNP. Firmly remain and possibility of revoke but also harping on about the next indyref. Having said that they give a good option for pro remain anti independence voters. They are campaigning nationally and locally. Have a clear message of ‘Stop Brexit’ (or ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ if that’s to your taste).
Change-UK. New Party a breath of fresh air but whilst they campaign for remain and a peoples vote they are not as strongly remain as e.g. the Lib Dems. I feel this election is too soon for them as they need an infrastructure. I am however impressed that they are predicted to win seats in the south and east (& kudos to those who made the jump from established Parties). In Scotland however politics is more crowded and they need time to gain traction.
Brexit. Clear message of ‘do hard Brexit’ – but not for me. They will however attract brexiteers from Labour, Tories & perhaps SNP. All of which have pro Brexit members – and where their vote goes will depend on whether Brexit or independence is more important to them. I think the Tories will suffer most from their presence.
UKIP They have a slate. What more can I say.
There are a couple of independents standing but as yet I have no idea as to what they stand for in terms of leave/remain.
So, this election is becoming a proxy for a peoples vote. In normal times it shouldn’t be but it is! Remainers are split. Brexiteers will largely coalesce to voting for one Party which means that even in Scotland I think we will have one Brexit MEP. Hey ho.
Up to now the debate amongst my remainer friends has been how to stop electing a Brexit MEP. On the current polls it’s unstoppable. (I’m really open to being proved wrong here!)
So what was and is my rationale for voting?
Firstly, as a postal voter, if a Party did not make contact before my postal vote arrived – they are simply not in the game! That cut options down immediately. I got a Brexit leaflet, a misaddressed letter and card from the SNP, an addressed leaflet from the Liberal Democrats followed up by a hand delivery and door knock from a local deliverer. Sorry Greens – you were an option but no contact and no evidence of local activity.
So at first pass it’s between the SNP & the LibDems.
Now some reading this will know that although no longer a member I was a Lib Dem, councillor and Parliamentary candidate. I’ve been unimpressed with the pro remain/anti indy mantra which drowns out any serious political policy. I’m equally unimpressed by the SNP pro remain/ pro indy mantra but this election is a one off and the independence aspects need to be parked. On that basis SNP & LD are both still in the frame.
Next – the actual candidates. The voting system only allows for a single vote for a Party but to me people are important. I want someone to represent me who I can be assured will fight my corner and do the necessary work in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Alyn Smith has a good track record (unlike some other Scottish MEPs) and as previously mentioned has an office in the Highlands. Christian Allard also has Parliamentary experience in the Scottish Parliament. Both will make excellent MEPs but equally, in any event both will be elected.
Top of the list for the Lib Dems is Sheila Ritchie. A seasoned campaigner, committed liberal and with a legal background she too will be an excellent MEP. It helps when you know the candidate rather than focusing on their publicity but it’s clear Sheila is committed, travelling the country and working hard for the votes.
So I’ve reverted to ‘tribe’ and voted Lib Dem. I have thought about it carefully before doing so. If I’m honest I’d like to see a Green MEP too but on the basis of demonstrated commitment and campaign activity this is my choice.
I wish all active candidates well. It’s a sacrifice and serious commitment to put your name forward and campaign especially in the current climate.
I suspect this election will be a small part of the ongoing EU saga but I’ve made my decision and can now spend the next 10 days talking to friends and working in my garden. My theme for this years bedding in using marigolds and lobelia – EU colours if you don’t know!
Best wishes to all but I hope to see Alyn, Christian & Sheila in the European Parliament working for electors for the next five years. That may be hope over reality but until hope dies we have a chance!
Whoever you vote for make the decision mindfully and above all GET OUT AND VOTE! the turnout has been dire in the past. This time it really matters! VOTE!