Much of the interest of the commentators looking at the European election results in the UK will be directed to the poor showing of Labour, and the implications that has for Gordon Brown. Some saw the election as a chance to express their general displeasure about the government. We will probably see the poorest ever result for an incumbent government. We then await Labour MPs responses, to see if any more want to join the ragged rebellion. It looks as if the PM is persuading would be rebels that a new leader means the General Election they fear. His message of delay seems to bring him reluctant support.
As some one who sees our current immersion in an intrusive and badly run European federation as part of our problem of overgovernment and wasteful public spending, I will be looking at the balance of votes between the federalist parties – largely Labour and the Lib Dems – and the Eurosceptic parties – the Conservatives and the range of pull out and democrat parties congregating on the Eurosceptic side. We cannot deal with overcentralised bossy government and excessive public spending without tackling the impact of Brussels on us too. For too long the Eurosceptic majority in the UK has been thwarted by its own splits, and by the willingness of too many Eurosceptics to vote for federalist parties at Westminster. My biggest frustration in the last decade has been the overwhelming federalist majority in the Commons, which has never reflected the mood on Europe in the country. Conservatives were alone in voting against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon.
If you ask the public in opinion polls if they want the Euro they tell you by a 4 to 1 margin they do not. Yet more than half of the public typically vote for Euro supporting parties in a General Election. If you ask them if they want Lisbon, again 4 to 1 are against, yet more than half vote for Lisbon supporting parties at a General Election.
In a PR Euro election people can show their displeasure with Labour by voting for a different federalist party ( e.g Lib Dems), or a Eurosceptic party (Conservative) or a pull out party. For me, the choices made will be important for the impact it might have on the future conduct of European policy. Let us hope that a majority this time have voted Eurosceptic. I suspect this time we will at last see a majority overall voting Eurosceptic, split between those who want substantial powers back with a new single market based relationship, and those who want to pull out altogether. In presenting the results we need to concentrate less on the obvious splits in the Eurosceptic movement, and more on the fact that a majority want less Brussels government. Surely this time the British people will have spoken, and told the politicians they want less Brussels power, less Brussels waste, less Brussels lawmaking and less Brussels spending?