European elections: it's either democracy, or the EU
As voting begins in the European elections, all true democrats know this is not an exercise in democracy. They also know that, in their choice of party, they are choosing either the EU or democracy
If you understand nothing else about the European elections, which begin in Britain on Thursday and continue throughout the EU until Sunday, understand this: you are not participating in a democratic process.
We are willing to raise that proposition to a test of your intellect, and of your political values.
In the absence of a European demos -- a shared political culture among a people that substantially identifies as a single political community -- the mere fact of casting votes confers no democratic legitimacy whatsoever.
If you do not understand that, there's a problem with your mental capacity.
If you do understand that but don't care, there's a problem with your political values: you don't believe in democracy as a first order, political priority.
That is how we see things; who you vote for is up to you. But with the above in mind, here is how we would describe the choices offered by the four main political parties. So, from Left to Right:
Labour. The Labour Party is divided on the European Union with many members of the parliamentary party, activists, and core voters in full agreement with us about the anti-democratic nature of the European Union as currently constituted. However, they are not in the majority and the party leadership is mainly Europhile. Labour leader Ed Miliband is also against giving the British people a referendum on whether we stay in or whether we leave.
Liberal Democrats. The LibDems form the most uncritically pro-EU party in Britain. This ties in to an international-bureaucratic agenda which offers largely uncritical deference to other global institutions such as the United Nations. There is very little appreciation within the party that democracy is threatened by the EU. This may be because the point is not understood; it maybe that it is well understood. Either way, LibDems are the most anti-democratic of all the major parties. It goes without saying that they oppose giving Britons a referendum.
Conservatives. The Conservative Party is Westminster's leading eurosceptic party, and the party most able to translate euroscepticism into reality. Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged an in/out referendum on EU membership. However, Cameron appears ambivalent about the EU. He wants to stay in on the basis that he will be able to renegotiate the terms of British membership. Critics do not believe he will be able to secure meaningful concessions. Cameron does appear to get the point about the absence of a European demos. The big question is: Has he fully internalised the implications of that point?
UKIP. Nigel Farage's party offers complete clarity on the EU. It wants to leave as fast as possible. UKIP's platform is one of national self-determination and democracy. Issues such as immigration which have featured prominently in recent weeks and months are a subset of UKIP's democratic nationalism. Some supporters of UKIP's general approach to the EU have misgivings about whether the party is yet sufficiently professional to merit their vote at the European or any other elections.
We believe that is a pretty objective, if brief, description of what the four leading parties stand for in these elections, at least in terms of the European Union itself and democracy.
If you are a full-on supporter of the EU, it seems clear that you should vote LibDem. If you are generally supportive but have some misgivings, vote Labour.
If you are generally sceptical about the EU but can't quite make the leap to full and immediate withdrawal, vote Conservative. If you want a clean break, vote UKIP.
Of course, people will be voting in the European elections for many other reasons than their attitude to the EU and democracy. That, of course, is their right. We repeat that we are not telling anyone who to vote for. We also repeat that you cannot vote for the EU and for democracy. The two are mutually exclusive.
Maybe that isn't important to you. The choice is yours. Now, go out and vote!
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