Anorak News | Democracy Inaction

Democracy Inaction

by | 10th, June 2004

‘TODAY is the big day. E-Day. Y’know – election day. What do you mean, what elections? No, not Big Brother, you fool. It’s the European and local council elections. Hey, come back…

The most deserted place in Britain today

First, the good news – today’s elections are deemed sufficiently important to be the lead story in three of the four broadsheet papers this morning.

Now, the bad news – both the Times and Telegraph lead with reports on how the election results have been cast into doubt by hundreds of cases of alleged postal vote fraud.

And the Independent leads with a story by Pamela Schlatterer, UK correspondent for German TV, entitled: ‘You British, the elections and your special brand of European hatred.’

And a depressing read it makes as a foreigner puzzles over the heady mix of ignorance, arrogance and downright apathy that characterises Britain’s relationship with continental Europe.

She meets people like 20-year-old Matt, who is going to vote UK Independence Party today on the somewhat dubious grounds that ‘they’re going to steal our currency’.

And Michael, a bus driver, who feels that he should vote for Ken Livingstone in the mayoral poll because he has done so much for bus drivers, but in the end ‘won’t bother’.

Schlatterer is no Brit-basher – far from it. She talks fondly about the ‘weird and wonderful ways’ of her adopted home, at one point going so far as to suggest that with better public services and more European influence on the food it could be ‘a paradise’.

But she shares the bafflement of her Dutch and German media colleagues with our attitudes towards the rest of Europe.

‘We shake our heads at a country that seems intent on denying it is already governed by Brussels in lots of areas,’ she says.

‘The deep-seated sentiment against being ‘not independent’ has crystallised into Euro-hatred and, even though the Prime Minister prides himself on being pro-Europe, under his leadership things have got worse.’

Sixty years ago, thousands of men gave their lives trying to turn back the tide of fascism that had engulfed Europe and bring peace and democracy to western Europe.

How do we repay this generation? By retreating into our ‘little Englander’ xenophobia or not being bothered to turn out to vote…’

Posted: 10th, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink