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Sunday, April 21, 2019

European Elections caught in a counter-factual world

I have just published a counter-factual novel in which a fictional executive mayor of the Cardiff Capital Region (spoiler; there is no such post) is assassinated. It is available on Amazon here if you are interested. However, no credible fiction writer could have conjured up the present political situation.

Having voted to leave the European Union, in a referendum, which, it subsequently transpired, was marred by rule-breaking, illegal expenditure and over-inflated and undeliverable promises, we are still members nearly three years later, and on the verge of electing members of the European Parliament, who may sit for just a matter of weeks, or, more likely a couple of years.

It is bad enough giving up a job to contest an election, pouring thousands of pounds of your own money into the campaign, while placing an intolerable burden on whatever relationship you might be in, and suffering abuse, vilification and pity from voters and opponents alike, knowing that you still might not win.

However, once we throw in extreme job insecurity on top of what was always a fixed term appointment, it makes many of us wonder why anybody will do it in the first place. And then there is the dodgy support network available for candidates of all political hues

Political parties, even the big ones, are largely fuelled by the efforts of volunteers. The bigger the party, then the larger the team a candidate can rely on. In the smaller parties such as the Liberal Democrats, a campaign might consist of the candidate, a few friends and a dog.

But disengagement with the political process has become rife in the light of the Brexit fiasco, and only the demagogues can now really call on fanatical supporters to get out and campaign for them. Thank goodness most of those people don't really know what they are doing.

Thus, we face headlines such as this one in the Guardian, reporting that group of Conservative councillors is refusing to campaign for the party in European elections in a protest against the government’s failure to leave the European Union.

It may well be that other parties are suffering from a similar reaction albeit with a lower profile. As a result the poll, when it comes in just under five weeks time, may prove to even more lonely and uncertain for the candidates than they anticipated.

And for that they should be applauded, because without their willingness to be humiliated, to place their own futures on the line, our democracy would be much weaker, possibly terminal. And I can think of a few Brexiteers who would not mourn if that became the case.
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