Just four things that could have been predicted for the European election and all came to pass:
- The protest parties would come out on top;
- The BBC would ignore the rest of Europe;
- Every political spokesman would claim any result to be a victory for whatever they believe.
The turn-out was derisory, as usual, though higher than you might expect for an election that had no noticeable local campaigning and was considered by most to be pointless. The Brexit party won the biggest vote share everywhere except Ulster and Scotland, which have their own regional electoral eccentricities. The protest parties overall – Brexit, Green, SNooPy, Plaid Cymru, LibDem – did very well.
This is fertile ground for humility and suggestions of compromise, but as the election means nothing in practical terms, commentators can say what they like. We have had the Greens, who are not exactly known for being grounded in any sort of reality, asserting that it is a ringing victory for Remain, if you add the right votes together and ignore the others) and the Brexit Party, and some within the Conservative Party, saying the vote demands a no-deal Brexit. Labour are split down the middle as usual: the Remainac wing have urged that the party move to a “Remain” position notwithstanding that every opinion poll and election to date has shown that Labour does better when promising to leave.
It all makes to difference in reality: British MEPs are only 9.7% of the chamber; the Parliament is practically a toothless talking shop in any case; and Britain is on the way out, whatever the fancies of the pro-Europeans. Therefore all this can only be seen as, at its best, an experiment in psychology. Those of us on the ground watching the politicians clashing in their ivory towers and hoping not to be hit by cross-fire would dearly like to know more of how the various opinions are formed and maintained, but perhaps next time a psychiatrist could be used, not a billion-pound electoral process.