I am currently enraptured in the run up to the elections to the European Parliament on 22 May 2014. zzzzzzz… Eh? Whassat? Oh. Yes, I’m awake now.
I don’t think many people get really excited about Euro-elections. I don’t know about anyone reading this, but despite being very politically aware, they bore me shitless. I don’t know if it because decisions taken in Brussells and Strasbourg seem so distant to our everyday lives, but European elections are something most people just cannot get excited about.
Yet this year the European elections are something we should not ignore. In the run up to the Referendum on Scottish independence, they are of supreme importance, as they may well be a pointer to the future. Not least to see how the anti-European United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) fare, which may give one an indication of the attitudes towards the EU.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not for one moment suggesting that UKIP will make any gains in Scotland. They are frankly going nowhere up here. No, what concerns me is how the people of the south of England vote. That is where the vast majority of the population of the UK live, and their attitudes towards the European Union are of supreme importance to Scotland in the future.
The present Conservative government in Westminster is already cow-towing to UKIP. Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that there will be a referendum on EU membership in 2017, which some are already saying it is possible that the UK may pull out altogether.
UKIP are an odious party whose offensive comments are fast becoming stuff of legend. These have included UKIP MEP Geoffrey Bloom referring to African countries as “Bongo-Bongo Land”, a UKIP councillor stating online that babies with Down Syndrome and Spina bifida should be aborted to save them being a burden on the state, and most recently UKIP leader Nigel Farage, inferring that all east Europeans are criminals, stated, “I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be.”
Yet UKIP are gaining ground in popularity, for if you tell a lie often enough, it will become the truth. A UKIP leaflet recently put through my door proclaims that 4000 people from the EU enter the UK every week. Supposedly based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, UKIP fail to mention just how many people leave the UK every week to live elsewhere in the EU, or just how many of these immigrants are skilled workers filling posts which UK citizens are unable to do so. Of course, in UKIP’s racist rhetoric, they claim that all these immigrants are filling poorly-paid jobs, their leaflet stating “Cheap labour pushes down British wages”. I wonder how many readers of that leaflet also noticed that it states they would withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (which they incorrectly call the “European Court of Human Rights”. What protection would workers have then.
So, if UKIP are going nowhere in Scotland, should I be worried? Yes, and every man, woman and child should be worried too. And let me tell you why.
One of the arguments of those opposed to Scottish Independence is that an independent Scotland would not automatically qualify for EU membership (another lie, which if told often enough, people will believe). Should Yes Scotland lose the Independence Referendum, then Scotland faces a possible nightmare scenario. UKIP and other Euro-sceptic gains in the election may well be a pointer to what will happen in the EU Referendum in 2017. If we remain in the Union, and the UK pulls out of the EU, what voice would Scotland have in Europe then? None whatsoever.
But the future could be much worse than that. Is there any possibilty of UKIP ever becoming elected to Westminster government? Given the continually rightward-leaning of the electorate of the south of England, it is not outwith the bounds of possibility that they may indeed enter a future coalition government with the Conservative Party. The consequences of any such government may have serious repercussions for Scotland indeed. For it is UKIP policy not only to abolish the devolved Scottish Pariament we fought so long and hard for, but also to reduce Scottish representation at Westminster. Effectively, any future Westminster government including UKIP could see Scotland without a voice in Europe, and without a voice at UK level either.
Apart from the European Elections, there are also local government elections in England on Thursday, 22 May 2014, in which UKIP and other Eurosceptics may make large gains. We should all be watching the results carefully, and point to them in the coming months to illustrate that there is only one way to guarantee a democratic and secure future for Scotland – by voting Yes to Independence on 18 September 2014.