Searching for silver linings in the Euro election’s purple cloud

No cause for celebration: This man is now the leader of the largest British political organisation in the European Parliament.

No cause for celebration: This man is now the leader of the largest British political organisation in the European Parliament.

Could the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership be sunk off the coast of a new, anti-federalist Europe?

It seems like a natural consequence of the election victories enjoyed by Eurosceptic and far-right parties across the continent – and one of the few reasons to be optimistic about the result.

We don’t have all the information yet, so it is impossible to be sure, but it does seem likely that people who won popular support by emphasising national sovereignty against that of the EU will be against a trade agreement that suppresses nations’ rights to make their own laws, and puts multinational corporations above countries.

Unfortunately UKIP, the British Eurosceptic party that has won 23 seats (so far), seems more likely to support the agreement that would force British workers into lowest-common-denominator working conditions and pay deals, in a betrayal of the populist promises it made to get elected.

Nigel Farage’s campaign took a leaf out of the Conservative Party’s book by hiding some of UKIP’s most unpalatable plans from the electorate; now that he has what he wants, will we see UKIP working to ensure, for example, that National Health Service privatisation is locked into British law? That would require support for TTIP.

If Farage’s party doesn’t support the controversial plan, they’ll probably stay away from the vote (as they do in most matters; UKIP has one of the worst attendance records in the European Parliament).

Of course the European Parliament doesn’t work the same way as the UK Parliament; UKIP may have won the most seats but this does not automatically hand it power – 23 UK seats is only one-third of those available, not a majority, and it will have to join a larger grouping in order to make its voice heard.

UKIP’s choices over the next few days and weeks will be crucial, as they will allow us to form opinions about how the party’s victory will affect life here in the UK.

The Eurosceptic party’s victory – the first time in more than 100 years that an election has been won by someone other than Labour or the Conservatives – means the other British political parties have more soul-searching to do.

Labour came second, defying right-wing pundits on the BBC and elsewhere who were hoping to see “weird” Ed Miliband suffer. But his lead over the Tories is just 1.5 per cent – hardly a ringing endorsement.

Clearly the British people were not convinced by his offer and Labour must revise its position on Europe or prepare to lose the next general election.

A good starting-place for the Party of the Workers would be a promise to halt the flow of migrant workers from EU countries with weaker economies by pushing for a change to the rule allowing free movement between countries – ensuring that this only happens between states that have comparable economies.

This would put an end to the economic opportunism that has caused the perceived flood of migrants from the poorer countries of eastern Europe, and make it possible for British people to get better jobs, offering more working hours – and negotiate for higher pay.

It isn’t rocket science, but Labour has failed to grasp this concept. One has to wonder why. Maybe Labour is still a bit too fond of Conservative-style neoliberalism. Is that it, Ed?

Labour’s problems are nothing compared with those of the Conservative Party. David Cameron wagered that his promise of an in/out referendum on the EU, to take place in 2017, would win him the next UK general election – but this result has shown that the British people don’t believe a word of it.

Rather than be held to ransom by an over-privileged nob, they have turned to an untried party of even more hard-line right-wingers who would probably create worse problems for working Britons than even the Tories, if they were ever elected into office in Westminster.

That is the message David Cameron has to swallow today: We don’t believe him. We don’t trust him. We don’t want him.

Yet his party seems unrepentant. Prominent members have already rejected calls to strengthen the referendum offer, for example.

The loss will make Cameron more likely to seek a deal with UKIP – and one is already in the offing, if we are to believe the denials coming from other leading Tories. This would be to UKIP’s disadvantage as Farage only needs to look at Nick Clegg to see what will happen.

Clegg should be a broken man. Not only have the Liberal Democrats haemorrhaged local councillors, but now he also has to face up to the fact that he has lost all but one of his party’s MEPs.

The BBC said the survival of Catherine Bearder in the South East region prevented a “humiliating wipe-out” – but isn’t the loss of no less than nine MEPs humiliating enough?

Clegg is already facing calls for his resignation amid claims that nobody wants to listen to him any more. This means the turnabout from “I agree with Nick” in 2010 is now complete. Anyone considering going into coalition with the Conservatives (Farage) should pay close attention. The British voter hates traitors.

There is one more matter arising from this result; a fact that you are not likely to hear on the mainstream media, but one that seems increasingly important, considering the demise of the Liberal Democrats.

The Green Party was fourth-placed in this election. Its 1,244,475 (so far) voters mean it had two-sevenths of UKIP’s support, while the Conservative Party – the party in power here in the UK – had only three times as many supporters.

Expect Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas to capitalise on this for all they’re worth.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Mike Sivier May 26, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I would particularly welcome comments from Vox Political readers who live in mainland Europe.
    What is your opinion of the election result?
    What do you think UKIP’s victory will mean?
    What was the result in your own country of residence – and what does that mean?
    There is far more to this than just the British situation and I think we all need to get a grip on that.

  2. sdbast May 26, 2014 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. Smiling Carcass May 26, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Maybe I’m being a bit optimistic, perhaps somewhat naïve and touch nostalgic, but what does this Euro-vote swing to UKIP mean to me?

    Well, it means we have a slightly-right Labour Party, wanting the best for the working man but kissing the asses of the middle classes to get their vote- therefore unable to really represent the working man and thereby becoming what the Liberal Party was at the beginning of the 20th century- one of the reasons for the creation of the Labour Party!

    We have a right-wing Tory Party, who promises all things to all men publicly, while privately scheming to enrich the wealthy at the cost of the poor.

    And we have some extreme right-wing parties, such as UKIP who cleverly disguise their real agenda through fear of immigrants and a façade of being the Party of the People.

    There is no effective socialist opposition and until we have one, we will always see this right-wing façade supported by the very people they seek to control and exploit.

  4. david pearce May 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    the trouble is any left wing party is seen as ‘too small to be worth voting for’. Or I have frequently heard ‘I refuse to vote as I don’t believe in the system’.. Unless labour can start representing the people or we can get the other left parties voted for we are doomed doomed I tell ya. But we always have the true ‘party of the people’ lead by a rich man, bank rolled by some very rich men, and with at least one titled person (William, Earl of Dartmouth MEP). Oh they want to do away with workers rights, oh they want to increase taxes for the poor (while reducing higher earner and corporate tax) and are keen on competitive tendering in the NHS. Hmm think they may be supporting TTIP :S . Hey we’re screwed and its not worth voting as they’re all as bad as each other. (one less vote for the left lol). But what’s the solution? I can’t afford £500 to stand and I cant afford £kkkk to campaign, and to be honest I don’t want to be a politician. If we feel disenfranchised with labour we could get behind one of the established left parties (greens, TUSC, Left Unity et al). But apart from the greens they need money to stand candidates and campaign (ok the greens do too just not quite as badly).Please no more new groups though the left vote is too fractured as it is. Looking at a lot of the EU they will soon be asking the same question.

    • Smiling Carcass May 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      I agree with you Dave. The left is fractured- nicely put- and we have no united front to fight the right.

  5. Bryn miller May 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    The word “Fear” is the wrong word.Concerned,worried anxious are more appropriate.We are at this very moment witnessing the results of the mass influx of migrants to the shores of our tiny island perpetrated in the main by the last Labour government.who have admitted to having “Got it wrong”.But still they come diluting our culture,former wealth and standard of living ie. Housing shortage driving the value up,Hospitals at breaking point,overcrowded schools,lower wages for the working classes,Unemployment,Increase in certain crimes,chronic traffic jams,unsustainable welfare payments,Riots.Need I go on? Are these observations wrong or am I inventing them. I have young children and grandchildren,am I not right to be concerned for their future,and well being?

    • Mike Sivier May 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      If what you are saying is correct, then it is clear that the Conservative Party has done absolutely nothing to resolve the problems, many of which were created by its neoliberal policies during the time of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and continued under the neoliberal New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

      Sadly, the result of last week’s Euro elections seems to be that Britain thinks a neoliberal party led by Nigel Farage will sort out the problems. We should ALL be concerned about that!

    • Smiling Carcass May 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Immigrants in the main dilute nothing; rather, they enrich everything!

      Yes, within every population there will be problem sectors; this applies to both immigrant and native members of society.

      What has really diluted the wealth is the immigrant international companies, such as Amazon and Google who make deals with the Inland revenue to avoid their fair share of taxes.

      The housing shortage is not due to immigrants living in sheds but the trend to the privatisation of housing.

      Overcrowding in schools is part of the agenda to see the poor left uneducated and fit only for the lowest of tasks- tasks formerly done by immigrants.

      Lower wages are a direct result of decimation of our major manufacturing base and of the obliteration of effective trade’s union opposition via legislation.

      As for riots, when does protest become riot; when violence is in the ascendency? Then maybe we should look at the police and the wars successive government take us to.

      I have children too. I fear for their future, not because of the riots but because of the autocratic and plutocratic system I brought them into.

  6. gingerblokeblog June 1, 2014 at 2:16 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on gingerblokeblog.

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