Tuesday, 5 May 2009

European Elections

Writing in Viewpoint on the BBC website, Professor Simon Hix of the London School of Economics questions what the EU elections really mean to people.

"Sadly these contests have not lived up to their billing. Few people vote and those that do vote are mainly motivated by national rather than European politics."

Hardly surprising when none of the three main political parties wish to discuss the real ramifications of Britain's membership.

"Most voters in Europe care about...... policy choices, yet they are not presented with them in European elections."

Not only are voters not presented with details of policy choices, more importantly they are not even presented with the opportunity of being asked whether they wish to belong to the EU!

Making the point that political parties tend to treat European elections as an opportunity for the electorate to pass judgement on the government of the day, Professor Hix highlights all that is wrong with our democracy today. In other words, all three main political parties try to deflect the electorate's attention from a subject they have no wish to discuss and as a result are disingenuous with the electorate.

On the basis that MPs continually remind us they are elected to represent their constituents, perhaps they might like to consider the last time they actually asked those constituents for their views on anything. MPs seem to have this odd notion that having been elected they have carte blanche to decide what they like, based on some loosely-worded manifesto to which they have no intention of adhering when it suits them.

This charge of disingenuous can be levelled at the time of local elections too. Only today David Cameron, launching the Conservative Party's local election campaign,
stated that voters should use the opportunity to register their dissatisfaction with the Labour Government. Yet is not a local election supposed to provide those voters with a chance to register their approval, or disapproval, on local matters, not on the record of the Government? As with the 'European' question, how many voters really know how local government works, how local government is constrained by central government 'guidelines'? In keeping with the question of EU membership, voters cannot be blamed for any lack of knowledge about local government as none of the politicians, national or local, appear to discuss this with their constituents either.

If politicians wish to be considered ' a class apart' - as it seems they do - then perhaps they should begin by taking a hard look at their own morals and principles, whilst at the same time reading Hayek's 'The Road to Serfdom' - they might just learn something about what is called democracy!

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