Voting is important – so is Europe

The European Parliament Elections are due to take place on the 22nd of May in the UK and the result may be more shocking than we care to predict.

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), led by the charismatic and controversial Nigel Farage, are being widely quoted as topping the polls. Upon review of some of these polls it certainly looks like they are proving to be a very robust challenge to the main parties. UKIP are providing attention to some major contentious political issues that our country faces, namely immigration and European Union membership. The Green Party is also getting a lot of attention with regards to their predicted gains.

A particular YouGov poll puts them ahead of the Liberal Democrats and on track to win three times as many MEPs as they currently field. The Green Party, in much the same way as UKIP, offer an alternative viewpoint on the current status quo dominated by the Conservatives and Labour and are willing to address environmental policy in ways that the others cannot.

Why are Labour and the Conservatives suffering so badly at the hands of these other parties? Well it really comes down to their policies and their leadership. Labour and Conservative have historically been the choice for many decades and they naturally hold on to this concept with keen arrogance.

Since the conception of New Labour in the 1990s the party’s policies have moved to more closely resembling the policies of the Conservatives, so we no longer have stark political differences as we used to. However, now being firmly in the age of the Spin Doctor party leadership, politicians are more likely to make decisions based upon how they will be received by the general public, which has destroyed a lot of integrity on both sides for many people.

UKIP certainly has Scottish support, but not on the scale it receives south of the border. Is this because we have our own nationalist party, or do we have a different mind-set in Scotland? It cannot be that people start thinking radically differently as soon as you cross the border into Scotland. Seemingly, it must be because we have more political options, we have a devolved parliament and we are generally further removed from Westminster than the rest of the population.
The Green Party are beginning to become more of challenge. The Green Party could probably be termed a centre-left party which is not afraid to address social and environmental issues. As the said YouGov poll suggests they are currently neck-and-neck with the Liberal Democrats and are actually further ahead than them in 4 of the 9 English regions.
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said: “…people have the chance to reject the tired and destructive model of business-as-usual politics and vote for the right kind of positive change – change for the common good.” Even though the most fervent leftist radical might argue that this is not necessarily radical change, it certainly is the most radical idea on offer at the moment.This is what sets the Greens and UKIP apart: UKIP are a more popular party willing to address certain problems whereas the Greens are offering us a radical political vision. The Green Party has also stated that it hopes to be able to force Nick Clegg out of the European parliament by bringing a challenge and, for some people, this is enough to win their vote.Maybe the Green Party is now pushing to be the radical alternative that the Liberal Democrats had portrayed themselves as in the last general election.

If we look at Scotland it is an altogether different picture. UKIP does not look like it will get the hold in Scotland as it will down in England. Scotland currently has 2 Scottish National Party MEPs, 2 Labour MEPs, a Conservative MEP and a Liberal Democrat MEP.

UKIP certainly has Scottish support, but not on the scale it receives south of the border. Is this because we have our own nationalist party, or do we have a different mind-set in Scotland? It cannot be that people start thinking radically differently as soon as you cross the border into Scotland. Seemingly, it must be because we have more political options, we have a devolved parliament and we are generally further removed from Westminster than the rest of the population. 
No doubt the SNP and Labour will retain their current seats and it seems probable that the Conservatives will be strong enough to maintain their lone MEP in Scotland, but I think the Green Party could potentially muscle in to take the current Liberal Democrat seat for themselves.However, as more YouGov polls have been conducted, UKIP support has not drastically shot up. In fact, it has remained rigid at 14%. This must show us that leaving the European Union is not as contentious an issue as was first thought. Where the fight for votes has occurred has been between Labour (36%) and Conservative (35%) and this has fallen to two issues: the NHS and immigration.People who are supporting Labour seem to consider them to be better equipped to deal with the NHS, while Conservative supporters seem to think that they are more efficient at dealing with immigration issues. UKIP is really only relegated to its true status as a protest vote.

On the other hand, YouGov has looked into the rise in the popularity of the Greens and their impact could be quite massive. It seems that the Greens are mostly taking their votes from Liberal Democrat supporters, which could see the potential demise of the Liberals as a political party. Their support has fallen to such a low degree that they are now struggling to find candidates to stand in local elections.

In the 2010 general election, the Liberal Democrats offered the more radical alternative to the two main parties and, so far, have failed to capitalise on their position within the ConDem Coalition.

People now see the Greens as the radical alternative and the Greens, unlike the Liberals, would do well to not renege on any promises they make. The Green support now stands at 10% while the Liberals have slipped from 9% to 7%. Maybe the Green message of the “Common Good” has struck a chord with some people.

Protests votes are extremely important, like any vote is, but we must be careful not to squander them on parties that might not address the issues we consider important. Referring to the Blogspot page, Another Angry Voice, we can see there are many options for protest/alternative votes: the Greens, Plaid Cymru, No2EU, Pirate Party UK, SNP and National Health Action Party. Just think back to the 2010 general election when the Liberal Democrats were inundated with support from Labour and Conservative defectors alike. The Liberals offered change to tuition fees, the voting system and democracy as a whole. So far we have seen very little attempt to implement these promises. Choose wisely.

Whatever way you vote this May it is extremely important that you do so. If you have the chance then you should participate in our political system, even if it is to spoil your ballot paper. The European Parliament decides on animal rights, consumer rights, the environment, international trade, regional economic development and workers’ rights, so it most definitely affects you.

Whatever the outcome of the election, I think the result should definitely be a wakeup call to the main parties for them to listen more and for the public to speak more – it will achieve that through voting.

Image: European Parliament,  Francisco Antunes
The following two tabs change content below.

Noah Brown

Name: Noah Surname: Brown City: Tweedsmuir Education: MA (Hons) Celtic at the University of Edinburgh Career Aspirations: Anything which challenges me How: Follow your nose and your heart Date of birth: 04.02.96 Email: noah.brown@young-perspective.net

Latest posts by Noah Brown (see all)

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.