On 2 May, I stood in the voting booth in a deserted village hall and paused for a moment, studying the list of names. Because it was the council elections, I know I should have prioritised about local services, dustbins and potholes. If I was voting for a man I know and liked, I should have voted for the poor chap I used to flatten during training at Alresford Rugby Club.
But my stubby pencil headed for the UKIP man, and there my cross was made.
As far as I’m concerned, the politics of the European Union transcend everything to do with potholes and dustbins.
I take any opportunity I can to express my disgust at the EU and everything it stands for. How I wished Commissioner Ciolos could have been at my elbow, so I could have said: “See? This is a ballot paper. This is how people in power should attain their position.”
But only a couple of days later, I was sitting at my computer, holding my virtual pencil over the box to finish my application for the single farm payment. Just for a moment, I paused, and considered an accusation of “hypocrite” that popped into the back of my head.
A brief moment later, the welcome picture of the five-figure cheque arriving in the bank account quickly snuffed out any doubts about the wisdom of the process.
It might be said that a man of higher scruples would have refused to apply for the EU’s annual golden cheque. But that man would also have to have a better bank balance than mine.
I have been troubled since then. I long with all my heart for UKIP to trounce the three identikit mainstream parties, with their lookalike politibots spouting streams of shallow clichés with glazed-over eyes.
What if my wish came true? What would happen to our subsidies?
So I rang UKIP. I asked if they had an agriculture spokesman. “Of course we do: Stuart Agnew. Here’s his number.” So I rang him.
Things got off to a fine start when he said he was glad to chat – he needed to take a break from packing up used seed-bags for recycling. Yup, he’s a real farmer.
His message was short and simple. UKIP would continue to subsidise agriculture in just the same way as everyone else around the world does in one form or another. Best of all, for every pound that goes into UK agriculture from the CAP, the UK taxpayer has contributed two.
Bear in mind the billions involved, and the savings of UKAP over CAP would be monumental.
And that was it. Short, sweet, cliché-free and refreshingly direct. I thanked him and let him get back to stuffing seed-bags. My conscience is clear. I can continue to vote UKIP.
A couple of weeks later, my finger dithered over the numbers of my phone, as family Flindt and a couple of friends, fuelled by lashings of raspberry vodka and Swedish meatballs, decided who to vote for in the Eurovision Song Contest.
I was trying to refute allegations that the only reason I wanted to vote for Finland was the gratuitous lesbian snog at the end of the song.
I claimed that I was voting on musical merit, and that I had hardly noticed the sapphic shenanigans.
The hail of meatballs suggested that no one believed me. Now, that’s what I call a European debate.
Charlie Flindt is a tenant of the National Trust, farming 380ha at Hinton Ampner, in Hampshire.
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