On 10 June 2004 the British electorate was asked to vote in the sixth set of direct elections to the European Parliament. Participants and observers concurred that the contest had been something of a ‘non-event’. Paradoxically, however, the elections did not pass imperceptibly; for, although they may have seemed but a ripple in the tide of history, they nevertheless played a significant role in the evolution of twenty-first century politics in Britain and in the European Union. Malcolm Muggeridge, a journalist and television personality of the 1950s and 1960s, was fond of remarking that ‘a row is never about what it is about’. A similar remark could be made about European elections — at least as far as the United Kingdom is concerned. Clearly, what they are not about is a popular desire to have a say in the composition of the European Parliament. Rather, they are national contests fought largely in the national context. ‘Europe’ may be an electoral issue, but it is an issue in a domestic contest.
KeywordsEurope Turkey Straw Wharf Kelly
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