I have a confession to make. Despite, from an early age, having had a keen interest in politics, I have only ever voted in Westminster general, or Scottish parliamentary elections. To this day, I have never once, cast my vote in either a local election or a European parliamentary election. My abstention from both local and European elections were, largely as a result of, prejudicial views I used to harbour about local government and the European Parliament. Probably as a result of Thatcherite media propaganda. I viewed local government as incompetent, inefficient and wasteful. If a task required one person to complete it, the council would allocate three, or so the stories went. My view of local councillors was equally negative, I regarded them as fourth rate politicians. As for the European Parliament, I regarded it as toothless and remote, of little or no importance and certainly not worth voting for. MEP's, like local councillors, were a sub-species of politician, simply not up to the task of being the real deal, i.e an MP.
It would be foolish to deny that there is indeed, a lot of inefficiency and waste that goes on at local government level. However, the same is true of just about any large, bureaucratic organisation. Central government is arguably one of the worst culprits, one had only to look at Ministry of Defence procurement as an example of total and utter incompetence and grotesque waste. Similarly, the EU, has very real issues regarding accountability. It's structures are overly complicated and insufficiently democratic. Many councillors and MEP's are inadequates, who need to feel important, but that applies equally to a number of MP's and MSP's. What I have learned, as my world view has evolved and grown, is that despite their flaws, local government and the EU matter, therefore, so do elections to those bodies. I've come to believe that a huge contributor to our problems, is that our governmental structures are heavily top down. For true democracy to exist, it needs to be brought as close to the people as possible. If not quite direct democracy, policy needs to be at least originated and developed at the bottom, then pushed up. Power should be devolved as locally as is practicably possible.
European and local government election turnouts are notoriously low. For example, at the 2014 European parliamentary elections in the UK, turn out was a paltry 35.6%. The real danger is that in the imminent EU in/out referendum low turnout could have a catastrophic effect. In the last few days there has been a concerted effort to get those who are not already, registered to vote. Recent figures point to the majority of last minute applicants falling into the under 35 age group. If you are in favour, as I am, of remaining a member of the EU, getting the young, not only registered to vote, but to turn out on polling day, is paramount. This is because, as a result of having grown up in a 'global village', whereby the world made smaller through the Internet and social media, they are largely free of the prejudices held by many, though by no means all, older people. In turn, this would suggest, younger voters are more inclined to vote to remain in the EU.
Now, I do not expect the EU referendum to emulate the relatively spectacular turnout of 84.6% achieved at the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. By comparison, turnout at the 2015 General election was 66.4% and the 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections just 55.6%. That being said, I strongly believe, the higher the turnout come June 23rd, the greater the chances of a vote to remain. If turnout is dismally low, it is likely to be the die hard, eurosceptics, racists and xenophobes who make up the majority. Regardless of whether you believe that the UK should remain a member, or opt to leave the EU, it is imperative that you cast your vote. The result, whichever way it goes, will have serious and lasting effects on the future of the UK. The EU referendum is very important and it matters a great deal. Let's give it the turnout it deserves.