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Quote of the Day

The news cycle is still apparently dominated today by the snoozetastic European ‘elections’. We hear from those who have actually found themselves in a polling station – presumably by accident – that there is a total of seventeen parties to choose from, each no doubt more tempting than the last in the eyes of the excited voter. For those who find it difficult to choose between them and suspect that this might not be unrelated to the political malaise afflicting western democracies, today’s quote is for you:

“Must not [we] be in raptures, on account of the strict harmony subsisting between the whiggified Tories, and the torified Whigs… The conjunction of Pompey, Caesar and Crassus, proved much more fatal to the Commonwealth, than even their opposition would have been… The wise and honest were driven from all participation in government. Cato was sent away for being too virtuous, by that tool of power the profligate Clodius, and Cicero, for being too able was forced into banishment.”

The North Briton, No. 37, February 12 1763.

European Parliament Election Special!

Election fever is somehow failing to grip the peoples of the European Union as they gear up for their twice-a-decade opportunity to select representatives to serve them in Brussels or Strasbourg or wherever it is this week. Although Article 14(3) of the Treaty on European Union – how the very words stir the blood! – confers upon them the right to participate in this sacred event which so inspires one’s faith in the human endeavour, we suspect that once again the turn-out will consist of about four Belgians and a guy from Palermo who has somehow got the impression that it is a second opportunity to vote in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Europeans may have spotted, of course, that the arcane sharing of powers between the Parliament on the one hand, and the unelected Commission and the national heads of government who make up the Council on the other, make it a vague kind of consultative body rather than a real legislature – certainly, it is the only legislature in the world which has no powers to legislate, suggesting that we might as well choose our representatives based on their ability to play the banjo for all the good it will do us. Perhaps, too, it has come to Europeans’ attention that the Parliament is a grotesque mechanism for the enrichment of anonymous political nonentities – indeed, we defy any reader to name as many as five MEPs and what they have been up to since the last election.

To counterbalance this dreadful apathy, therefore, here is our guide to the elections, based on the entirely objective and admirably thorough method of studying the leaflets shoved through our letterbox here at the JWC headquarters in the City of London. Alas, this will not tell us much about the exciting platforms of the French Communists and the Bulgarian Attack Party, but, in fairness, non-European readers should be aware that nobody in Europe has the faintest interest in the politics of other European countries: nothing characterises pan-European democracy more than the complete absence of any kind of pan-European demos. Read more