Thursday 26th May
We know that when major tectonic plates move far beneath the earth it causes sudden earthquakes on the surface. And it may well be the same with Politics. In Europe generally it seems that the old status quo of Centrist Christian and Social Democrat parties is on a rapid decline; time was that, as in Britain, the two major parties would command almost or occasionally 50% of the vote. Now they are lucky if they achieve a third of the popular vote, which is often less than a quarter of the actual electorate, which hardly commands any authority. This has resulted in years of varying coalitions, with partners jockeying for position long before elections and political philosophies being watered down. So in a way nobody is ever really happy with the resulting Government. And more and more there is an anti-establishment mood. Hence the success of left wing parties in Greece and Spain, and even more worrying the rise of the Ultra Right in Austria, Hungary and Poland. Here in France Marine Le Pen keeps threatening to break through and even in Germany the far-right is gaining ground. In Britain despite the demise of the LibDems (the price they have paid for Coalition) UKIP is far from buried, despite failing to breakthrough at the last election – I predict they will eat into more and more of traditional Labour territory in Northern England and Wales. As for Scotland, the SNP have successfully painted themselves as the anti-Westminster party and rather than recoil after their referendum defeat have gone from strength to strength. I fear a similar thing may happen after our Euro-referendum and the UKIP fox that Cameron thought he had shot will run riot in the chicken house and many Tories will defect to them if we vote to Stay in; their rallying call will be a second referendum. And if we vote to Leave they will be triumphant and I see another General Election looming. And the results of that scenario are impossible to predict, except that Labour will not win, and neither will the Tories. What sort of coalition may emerge one can only guess.
I think we are in for some really troubled times, and whether the UK leaves the EU or stays there will be major changes in Europe. I cannot see the EU holding together with such disparate partners as the Freedom Party in Austria, and Law and Order in Poland and Syriza in Greece and other left-leaning countries like Denmark and Sweden. One possibility will be a two-tier Europe with the Euro-zone becoming practically one state and the other countries on the periphery with varying degrees of free movement. The real breaking point could be the possible accession of Turkey, which Germany is practically committed to but almost everyone else is scared of.