STEPHEN GLOVER: Why today, despite its unholy mess, I’m voting for the only party that can save Britain
Which party should sane people who plumped for Leave in 2016 support in today’s European elections? It is a question troubling millions of voters, me included. Theresa May’s impending ejection from No 10 makes it more pressing.
We could just stay at home. It is an alluring idea. What could be more absurd than trudging out to choose politicians who may never sit in the European Parliament, which is the legislature of an institution we were supposed to leave two months ago?
Abstaining would be a way of telling the two main parties how little we think of them for having failed to honour their General Election manifesto pledges of 2017 to take us out of the European Union.
Which party should sane people who plumped for Leave in 2016 support in today’s European elections? Theresa May’s impending ejection from No 10 makes it more pressing, writes Stephen Glover
We could just stay at home. It is an alluring idea. What could be more absurd than trudging out to choose politicians who may never sit in the European Parliament, which is the legislature of an institution we were supposed to leave two months ago?, writes Stephen Glover
And yet, although I haven’t banished the thought of boycotting the vote, it seems perverse to linger on the sidelines at a moment of national crisis. Isn’t this a time when people should want their voices to be heard?
Individually, one cross in the box doesn’t count for very much, but all our crosses add up to a great deal. The outcome of today’s vote — which will not be announced until Sunday night — is likely to be far more significant than is normally the case with European elections.
So which party to support? The Conservatives usually get my vote, though I’ve never been a member of the party, and I confess that in the 1992 General Election I backed Labour. Perhaps I had a presentiment of what a hopeless prime minister John Major would turn out to be.
But can anyone of sound mind vote for the divided, leaderless, fractious, generally unappetising Tories who, as the governing party, bear most responsibility for the disappointments and failures in trying to deliver Brexit? It’s an agonising choice.
Indulge me a little as I consider the alternatives. Fortunately, living in Oxford, I don’t have to weigh up the charms of the Scottish Nationalists or Plaid Cymru (their Welsh counterparts), nor the sometimes block-headed Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland.
The outcome of today’s vote — which will not be announced until Sunday night — is likely to be far more significant than is normally the case with European elections, writes Stephen Glover. (Pictured) Theresa May and Boris Johnson arrive to welcome Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016
The trouble is that Labour is run by Marxists whose overriding concern is to finagle a General Election rather than deliver Brexit as its manifesto promised. Party before country is its motto, writes Stephen Glover
Even if I lived in a part of the country in which their names were to be found on the ballot paper, I could never vote for any of them. Nor can I imagine supporting the bossy, Leftist Greens.
So let’s think about the main parties. I am mystified that apparently intelligent Remainer Tories should be planning to vote Liberal Democrat, whose vulgar and fundamentally undemocratic campaign slogan is ‘B*****ks to Brexit’. (They haven’t used asterisks.)
Even if I were a Remainer, I would be appalled by the Lib Dems’ arrogant rejection of 17.4 million voters. They can disagree with these people, but they can’t respectably dismiss them. They are really saying ‘b*****ks to Brexiteers’. That’s insulting — and dangerous.
Strike them out! And so to Labour. If these were normal times, and the party was in the hands of moderates, this might be a good moment to support it as an antidote to the incompetent Tories.
The trouble is that Labour is run by Marxists whose overriding concern is to finagle a General Election rather than deliver Brexit as its manifesto promised. Party before country is its motto.
Now we come to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. I admit I have been tempted. I don’t doubt he is a patriot, and he is undeniably a brilliant operator, and by far the most gifted party leader.
Unlike some Tory politicians who have sailed unenthusiastically under the colours of Brexit, Mr Farage has one paramount aim — to respect the result of the referendum, and do whatever he can to ensure we leave the EU as soon as possible.
His genial, down-to-earth approach and general good humour (though this sagged a little during a recent acrimonious interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr) are infectious in an arena dominated by grey apparatchiks.
But I still can’t vote for him. I don’t think he is an extremist — and to compare him to the far-Right French political leader Marine Le Pen is as preposterous as it is unjust — but there is a faint hint of something odd around the edges.
Theresa May speaks during a visit to Finchley Conservatives in Barnett in May last year. Stephen Glover writes that, despite the mess, he would back the Conservative party
Andrea Leadsom arriving home in London last night after resigning from the cabinet. She said: ‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result’
Partly it’s to do with the company he keeps — men such as the chirpy, controversial businessman Arron Banks, who is alleged to have bankrolled Mr Farage to the tune of £450,000 since the referendum, allowing him to enjoy a lavish lifestyle.
No impropriety was involved, I am sure, but Banks looks like a political chancer and is certainly an iconoclast, and his close friendship with Mr Farage makes me wonder about the Brexit Party leader. Perhaps I am being supercilious, but it’s what I feel.
More fundamentally, it seems likely that if Mr Farage and his merry band of prospective MEPs (about whom, by the way, we know almost nothing) should triumph today, they will build up a momentum that might split the centre-Right vote at a General Election, and let in Jeremy Corbyn.
I don’t say this out of any concern for the Tories. In normal circumstances it would be preferable for them to go off for a period of opposition, replenish themselves, and come back after a few years with a capable leader and some better ideas.
But with the prospect of a Corbyn-led Marxist government looming, this is a luxury we can’t afford. We need a strong Conservative Party to see off Labour once Theresa May is at long last carted from the field of battle — which looks as though it may happen at any moment.
My point is that, although this is obviously an election about the EU and Brexit, the outcome could have repercussions which will affect the entire political landscape. A vote for Farage could be a vote that strengthens Labour, writes Stephen Glover
It is surely fanciful to imagine that the one-issue Brexit Party could ever fulfil such a role. We don’t know what it thinks about all manner of issues. It doesn’t know either.
My point is that, although this is obviously an election about the EU and Brexit, the outcome could have repercussions which will affect the entire political landscape. A vote for Farage could be a vote that strengthens Labour.
And yet, despite all I have said, can I really bring myself to vote Tory? A large part of me thinks the party should be punished for subjecting the country to such misery over the past couple of years, though Labour is also much at fault for refusing to compromise.
A voice is still whispering in my ear that one should register displeasure by abstaining. Or maybe — like thousands of people at the recent local elections — I should spoil my ballot paper as a kind of protest.
But isn’t that a cop-out? Shouldn’t we exercise the right which our forefathers struggled to win, particularly when the country is in such a mess?
Moreover, there is the brutal reality of Theresa May’s departure, which seems imminent. A Tory Party without her faltering hand on the tiller should be a more attractive prospect to disgruntled Leavers because her successor is almost bound to be a genuine Brexiteer.
As it happens, the Tory at the top of the candidates’ list for the South-East of England (in which region Brussels has chosen to lump Oxford) is Daniel Hannan, the brilliant and principled Brexiteer. If the Conservative vote should collapse, even he will be at risk.
So some time this evening I shall probably wend my way to the polling station in Woodstock Road, possibly stopping at the pub on the way, and reluctantly place my cross in the box of the party that could still save Britain.
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