Divided We Surely Fall

There are only two sides to the EU debate: those that believe that the EU is beyond saving and want out, and those that believe that the EU is worth saving and want in. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call these camps anti-EU and pro-EU. All three of the major parties in British politics are pro-EU in that they all agree that the EU needs reform, but is a good thing for Britain. Sure they bicker about individual items of legislation, and for political convenience it is in their favour to appear more or less in favour of the EU depending upon what slice of the electorate they’re canvassing, but in terms of the grand EU debate, they are all on the same side. Only Farage sits on the other.

So it seems strange that the political establishment can’t win this in a slam dunk. Surely the combined weight of the conservative party, the labour party, and the liberal democrats should be enough to explain to the electorate precisely why an imperfect EU is better than a non-existent one. The Nick Clegg v Nigel Farage debate was a perfect opportunity for the pro-Eu camp to unify, and yet the opposite happened. Today David Cameron appeared on television calling Nick Clegg an extremist, the Labour party have been distancing themselves as far as possible from the subject lest negative fallout stains their trousers, and even the Green party – a party whose objectives are solely dependent upon the EU and global cooperation – couldn’t resist the opportunity to resort to petty politics and opportunism. If our political parties cannot unite when presented with such a basic proposition, is it any wonder that demagogues like Farage triumph?

We see this time and again with the liberal left. The AV referendum was lost because rather than unite to improve an outdated electoral system, the Labour party used it as an opportunity to steal votes from the Lib Dems. I’ll say this for the conservatives, they know how to pull together for the bigger picture, the left simply cannot get past its own factional squabbling.

Take this party political broadcast by the Green party in response to the debate. The Greens have an almost identical outlook on Europe as the Lib Dems, but to gain political advantage they paint them as the very non-existent caricature dreamt up by the daily mail: a sycophantic slave to faceless EU bureaucrats. Pro-EU camps should be arguing that this stereotype doesn’t exist, that it is a paranoid fantasy, but the Greens have cynically promoted it, betraying their own cause. It is yet another sad sign of the continued decline of a once promising party.

Cooperating is a virtue in politics, but Britain is yet to break out of its juvenile mentality and realise this. If we don’t soon change, Farage, may well win by default.

On The Subject Of Green

Like many in the centre-left of British politics, I have a certain sympathy for the Green party. Like them, I feel that environmentalism should be given a much higher priority along with animal welfare and the preservation of the natural world. I would like to see the Green party have more influence in parliament.

Unfortunately the Green Party disagrees.

The shocking lack of foresight in the Greens suggests that they are ether dangerously naïve about our political system, or more concerned with their ego than getting actual influence. There is no way the greens can make strong gains in first-past-the-post. Maybe in thirty years or so, after many gruelling elections, slowly raising their profile, but not in any way soon enough to start tackling the big issues like climate change.

The Green Party, like their right wing equivalent UKIP, need Proportional Representation to have their voice heard. There is only one main party that has promised to deliver this: the Liberal Democrats.

At this the Greens always scoff, “oh, but the Lib Dems aren’t as green as we are, they don’t go far enough!”, but they miss the point. It does not matter if the Liberals want to burn all our forests and force cows to drink pop to increase their burps tenfold, what matters is getting PR for the next election so the Greens stand a chance in the future.

“What about Tony Blair,” they cry. “He promised electoral reform back in 1997, and never delivered!” True, but Blair only said that when he thought he needed the Liberals to prop him up. When he found himself with a massive majority those promises were meaningless, after all, his own party didn’t want PR.

The Liberal Democrats do want it. It’s not a ploy by their leadership but a genuine heart-felt commitment by every member of the party. If they get in, they’ll do it.

But still the Greens refuse to throw their weight behind the Liberal Democrats, instead they let their naivety and their egos get the better of them, splitting the liberal-left vote and allowing the Tories to make gains. UKIP, whilst normally deranged, at least have the sense to recognise the type of political system we’re stuck with. They often step aside if they approve of the Tory candidate. No point splitting the right wing vote if it lets in a europhile.

Incidentally, in the European elections which are based upon a system of PR, I voted Green. In that system they stand a chance. Sadly they don’t in ours, and they’re destroying their chances of influence by standing in it. Grow up Greens, get your eyes on the real prize.

– Not a clever move.