BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. As indicated by the domain name, I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

"People's Vote"

I wanted to make a bit of progress on my app today, but it is a Sunday and I also wanted to talk about this idea of a "people's vote".

I watched a political programme the other day, which had a politician claiming that we were all a lot better informed about the EU now than 2 years ago, so we should have another vote.

The politician in question is a former party leader - I've even voted for their party in previous elections. so I'd some expect synergy on many issues, but not unfortunately on this one.

Better informed? Well, I might be in a minority but if I felt ill-informed on an issue I might be reluctant to vote on it. But if you look at voter turnout, a higher proportion of us voted in this referendum, than have in any General Election this century!

Better informed with a view to what? To changing our minds? Did the politician change their mind? No, they called for Remain at the time of the referendum and have remained of that view since then. So why can they not understand that I had a view, and have stuck to it, just like they have? I think that actually, they understand completely, but they'd like to go against the referendum result, because they know better. (In fact, I haven't heard anybody calling for a referendum who wasn't originally a supporter of Remain.)

But does this politician know more than the rest of us? Very possibly, just by virtue of being an MP, but remember that they are calling for a fresh public vote, so, really, it's the public's level of knowledge which is the important metric here. So if the politician hasn't changed her view, why should they expect anybody else to have done so? I'm afraid it smacks of pompousity to me - I was sufficiently switched-on to think that the EU is a good thing, but you're a bit dimmer, maybe it has taken you a couple more years to come to my conclusion?"

Or maybe we haven't come to that conclusion?

I must admit that I like referendums, they are the public's most direct way of implementing democracy, and I would be happy to express a view on the final deal or on the future relationship with the EU, but politicians are somewhat more vocal, and are saying that one of the options should be to make as though the 2016 vote never happened. What am I afraid of? I'm afraid that by then, we're in a place in which politicians decide to adopt some referendum results but to ignore others.If they want us to have faith in the voting system, you have to keep faith with every vote.

As I've already said, I once felt sufficiently sympathetic to this politician that I joined the party they led, but I fell out with them on this issue. To this point I have been quite defensive about my reasons for not having a second referendum, but, actually I feel it is appropriate to go on the offensive. I want to leave the EU because I think it is a flawed organisation - why don't they think the same? I see meetings happen, not just behind closed doors but unminuted, and have a problem that the general public isn't represented transparently enough. Why don't they have this problem? Or, in the European Parliament, them that Malta has more than 10x the number of MEPs, per capita, than France does. Is this acceptable?

I mean, you might argue this one by saying that the role of the European Parliament is not the same as national parliaments, that it is more "committee-oriented". Fair enough, but but bear in mind that our MEPs are the only people who are elected by the citizenry of Europe, so unless the parliament represents everybody equally, where does that leave us?

And,why is it acceptable that even people who are sufficiently senior that they sit on the Council of Ministers, are not allowed to even enter proposals to be discussed by that Council of Ministers. Instead, they must be proposed by the commissioners, who are the civil servants of the EU and are appointed, not elected. Can you imagine an elected politician not being permitted to even discuss their ideas for policy?

But I could go on to talk about e.g. the Eurogroup. I can maybe buy that an avid federalist might be happy that the EU even has economic policies, although I myself don't. The name of the group would be rational, i.e. the finance ministers of those countries who have joined the Euro, were it not for the UK's Chancellor (Osborne) also to sit on it, even though the UK does not have the Euro. But that it also meets in private, behind closed doors? What value transparency here? The EU label this group as "informal" - but if it is that informal, why does it even exist?

In many ways I can feel quite close to a Remain/Reform agenda here, although my analysis is that the EU will not reform itself. But I can hear that viewpoint and just say "faif enough". At least a Remain/Reform agenda acknowledges that there are issues with the EU, we just have a different view on the likelihood that reforms will happen. But it does disappoint me that some people don't even acknowledge these problems at all, that those who shout "Remain", aren't also shouting "Reform".

And aside from all my musings above, if people don't respect the last vote, why on earth should we think they'll respect the next vote?

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