- Elections for our local district councils (or whatever other name they might have such as city councils or borough councils).
- General elections for our Members of Parliament.
- European elections for our Members of the European Parliament.
Many people - and I may well be one of them - will not bother to vote in today's European election. There is some complicated way of deciding who has won that election and it may even be that each region elects more than one MEP. And I don't even know just how far my European constituency (the region) extends. I do know it covers South-East England but I haven't a clue what constitutes South-East England. Nor do I know (or much care) who is my MEP - or are my MEPs.
I do know that there are, broadly speaking, five main political parties with candidates standing in this election. We have received literature (a small flyer) from just two of those parties. There are (in no particular order):
- The Conservative Party (Tory), on the right;
- The Labour Party, on the left;
- The Liberal Democrat Party, no-one really knows where they stand;
- The Green Party, very much a minority party at present with strongish ecological ideals;
- The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip), campaigning to take the UK out of the European Union (EU).
The leader of the Tories, David Cameron, has promised that if his party wins next year's general election, he will renegotiate (I think he should say he will attempt to renegotiate) the terms under which the UK is a part of the EU and, after that, they will hold a referendum on whether or not we should stay in Europe.
The Lib-Dems are very much pro Europe and would never countenance us leaving - and quite probably don't want to renegotiate our terms of membership.
I haven't managed to work out quite when the Labour Party stands - nor the Greens either.
Ukip is forecast to gain many votes from disaffected Tories who want out of the EU - and probably some Labour supporters as well.
The Tory party seems to be confusing today's European election with next year's general election as they are warning that a vote for Ukip is a vote for Labour. but many men in the street consider that a vote for Ukip today will be a warning to the Tories to harden their stance on Europe before next year's election. After all, they would argue, it is the Westminster Parliament, not the Brussels/Strasbourg Parliament which is the more important in our lives. That, however, is a somewhat simplistic view, although it is the unelected European Commission which proposes most European legislation which is then rubber-stamped by the European Parliament. And much of that legislation is either nonsense or goes completely against the systems that we have used to govern our country for many centuries.
An example of the former is the Working Hours Directive (which has been obediently adopted by Westminster). This makes it illegal for anybody to work more than 48 hours in a week. Of course nobody wants unscrupulous bosses bullying workers into running machinery for 15 hours a day, seven days a week. But if a shelf-stacker in a supermarket works an eight hour shift for six days and then wants to do another shift on the seventh day to earn overtime, why not allow this? And what about people being classifies as working when they are asleep? Doctors - or anybody else - who are "on call" are classified as working. So, a doctor might be on call overnight, but have no call outs and sleep in his own bed for eight hours, possibly for two or three successive night, but that means he must cut back on his actual work.
And what also irritates people - no, it angers them - is the way the European Commission and the European Parliament waste money. Added to which, there are so many black holes in the accounts that the auditors have refused to sign off the accounts for twenty years or more!
Is it any wonder that apathy rules.