The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.
— Oscar Wilde (@BestOscarWilde) October 14, 2014
Posted on May 26, 2014 by Simon Phipps
The Middle Earth elections are over and there’s a new alliance of elves and men in control, but all I can find on local TV is news of Tom Bombadil crushing Bilbo in Hobbiton.
I’ve been watching the BBC, and every single item of reportage has used a local political lens. We have heard guesses about next year’s UK elections, chest-beating from leaders of local parties, cameos of local politics in other countries to show what’s happening here is just like what’s happening there. But there’s little mention and absolutely no analysis of the power shift in the actual “political parties” of the European Parliament (with names like EPP, ALDE and S&D) and no useful indication of the actual consequences to the UK of the decisions its people have taken.
This is no surprise; neither the campaigning political parties nor the pre-election media ever mentioned the real politics of the European parliament, so how could anyone vote about it? Instead, the whole election has been portrayed like a mock election at a school. All comment asks what this means for Hobbiton; no-one is asking who’s running Middle Earth.
My take from the European election results is the UK has voted to remove many of its experienced politicians from Brussels and to leave the EPP and S&D to run the show. By promoting UKIP, we now have eleven fewer elected representatives working on our behalf to improve the UK’s position as new policy evolves, and even if they did suddenly decide to represent us — instead of voting in favour of things like the ivory trade and against flood prevention “to make a point” — they have no parliamentary colleagues they are willing to work with among the other nationalist parties to produce change.
The same story in other countries means the intact set of experienced political operators is from Germany, and the dominant influence from the UK will come from Labour acting within the S&D party who came second in the election. The UK’s ability to influence has been dangerously harmed and the euro-sceptic influence has moved even further from the levers of control (the UK’s Conservatives had already quit EPP by forming a new minority party) leaving pro-europeans from EPP, ALDE, Greens and S&D in control.
Meanwhile, xenophobic parties from across Europe will be funded with millions of new euros as their no-show no-work MEPs collect default allowances and feed their party with money (assuming they don’t just keep it). There may be fewer jackboots and more smiling populists, but the mantle has been handed over.
Instead of explaining all this, the UK’s news media talk as if UKIP has “won the election”, talk about local politics elsewhere in Europe and give no indication of the actual balance of power in the European Parliament. This is the real political bias problem.
By treating the European elections in purely parochial frames, voters have been given no information about the true consequences of their votes and as a result have voted like it’s a national election. No-one is being told about the true power-brokers or the future of policy. Instead, the news media have betrayed their audience and created a situation where the UK’s influence in Europe — which will remain the market maker for our economy and jobs — is further diminished. I have complained to the BBC that their coverage has been parochial to the point of abuse; you could too…
Here are the actual results: