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Sunday, June 13, 2004

ELECTIONS ROUND-UP Well, if you're an election anorak you’re probably squirming on the floor in ecstasy. I mean what is it with elections these days? It's like with that traditional British bus-thing: you wait ages for one and then three come at once.
But anyway, here's an overview of the most important points.

Daniel Hannan pessimistically sums up the basic of the Euro-thingy:
First, this will be the first European Parliament with a significant anti-federalist bloc. I have just gone over the figures with Jens-Peter Bonde, the veteran Danish Euro-MP who, with me, chairs SOS Democracy, the tiny Euro-sceptic group in Brussels. We hope to have more than 100 members in the new session, with many recruits from both Poland and the Czech Republic. The Netherlands, the only state so far to have declared, has just elected Paul van Buitenen, the whistle-blower who brought down the Santer Commission.
. . .
And whatever happens on the Continent, I am prepared to offer a pound to a euro that, in this country, the combined votes of the anti-constitution parties - Conservative, Green and UKIP - will tower over the puny Lib-Lab total. With five days to go, Mr Blair is being given the strongest possible mandate to veto the constitution.
Admittedly, we have been promised a referendum; but, as Hitler grasped, a plebiscite can be used as a way to avoid further elections. When it comes to European referendums, "No" votes are discarded, but "Yes" votes are treated as final and binding. Indeed, Giscard and his friends have specifically anticipated the possibility of a "No" vote by providing that, once four fifths of the member states have ratified it, the constitution will become active, and a two-year period will be set aside to allow the recalcitrants to fall into line.
. . .
However you voted on Thursday, however our fellow Europeans vote today, the EU will continue along the path to political integration. Mere elections will not be allowed to check the reigning ideology. For some of the accession countries, it must all seem horribly familiar.
Quite some time back, I wrote an essay for university on the question "Is the EU-Parliament redundant?" With the EU-Parliament in the news I started wondering what my conclusion had been, and I have to say after re-reading it I still don't really know what my point was at the time. Anyway I've been giving it a bit of a makeover and sometime during the week it’ll be up on my writings page.

Next up, the local elections were a mixed bag of results, on which British Spin's analysis is the best I've seen so far. The one point I feel needs emphasizing is made by Matthew d'Ancona:
Ministers are wrong, secondly, to suggest that public perception of the conflict will be dictated by the course of events in Iraq itself. The war is no longer, in the eyes of the voters, a quarrel in a far away country of which we know little, but something more deeply symbolic. In truth, the contrast Labour draws between the war and domestic issues is a false dichotomy: "Iraq" is no longer so much a word that refers to a war, as a political shorthand, a catch-all category like "spin" or "sleaze". It has become, in practice, a dark metaphor for all that the voters dislike about Mr Blair's conduct at home, an exotic symptom of a malignant disease.
As for the London mayoral election, well that was a damp squid to start with. Red Ken is rubbish, but Shagger Norris? I can't quite agree with Stephen Pollard's pained endorsement, even though he is right in principle about the congestion charge; my earlier opposition to Livingstone remains, and that's why I hope the Tories will find someone better next time round.

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