Well, that was interesting, wasn’t it? Whoops of joy from some quarters, yelps of pain from other quarters. And we still, at the time of writing, haven’t had the results for our six sick counties.
The three most striking features of the European election were the triumph of Nigel Farage’s Remain Party, the rise of the Green Party and the pummelling of the Tories and Labour. Why was that? There’s only one honest answer : nobody knows. But we can make an educated guess.
Farage and friends did spectacularly well because the British electorate in 2016, wanted to give the establishment a kicking. After three years itseemed that the establishment was doing its damnedest to move the g oalposts, so the electorate put the boot in again as hard and deep as possible.
The Greens did so outstandingly well because in the past couple of months there have been reports which claim we’ve got about eleven years before the entire ecosphere goes permanently out of kilter. Faced with the destruction of the planet within a century, people throughout Europe decided it might be wise to elect those who were concerned and might have answers.
The catch with this interpretation of the Greens’ success is that they’ve been telling us the same thing for decades and have made little progress. Back in the 1970s, I knew a university professor who had a vasectomy, not for personal reasons, but because he was convinced that the massive overpopulation of the Earth must inevitably end in disaster. In schools, kids did projects on the need not to litter, the need to avoid food waste, the need to avoid excessive pesticides. But nothing or next to nothing happened.
The tipping point came with the recent urgent reports that species of insects were being killed off and that our natural food chain would be ruptured if we didn’t act NOW. Newspapers began to adopt a policy where they ditched ‘global warming’ for ‘global over-heating’ and ‘climate change’ for ‘climate crisis.’
The other crucial element in the rise of the Greens was that not only were alarming reports issued of what was happening, but – and this is crucial – the media decided to run with these reports. I haven’t checked but it is impossible to believe that we haven’t had equally alarming reports by experts over the last 5-10 years – yet the Greens remained the small party they were. In the south of Ireland they were dumped after their performance as coalition partners. So not only did the scientific reports galvanise the electorate – the media made it possible for the galvanic current to reach the wider public.
And the Tories and Labour in Britain? That’s easy. The Tories got stuffed because they didn’t bundle the UK out of Europe quickly enough; Labour got stuffed because they didn’t declare themselves in favour of remaining in the EU. Which goes to show you how battered, bruised and hopelessly divided English politics and English society is.
Did somebody mention England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity?