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 Caroline Lucas claiming that we were all a lot better informed about the EU now than 2 years ago, so we should have another vote.
Caroline Lucas is the former leader of the Green Party. As avid readers of this blog will know, I was once a member of the Green Party too. So I'd 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 Caroline change her mind? No, she called for Remain at the time of the referendum and has remained of that view since then. (In fact, I haven't heard anybody calling for a referendum who wasn't originally a supporter of Remain.) But does Caroline know more than the rest of us? Very possibly, as an MP, but remember that she is calling for a fresh public vote, so, really, it's public knowledge is the important metric here. So if Caroline hasn't changed her view, why should she 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 her 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 somebody will decide to adopt some referendum results but will ignore others. (Who?) Just holding another referendum - let alone any result - shows this.
As I've already said, I once felt sufficiently sympathetic to the Green Party that I joined it, 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, really, I feel like going on the offense. I want to leave the EU because I think it is a flawed organisation - why don't they think the same? For example, is is acceptable to them that Malta has more than 10x the number of MEPs, per capita, than France does? 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 both the left-winger and the right-winger, 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 not elected. Can you imagine an elected politician not being permitted to even discuss their ideas for policy? (I could go on about the manner in which these commissioners end up in Brussels, i.e. sent rather than elected, but that, I think, is more of a national issue, certainly in the UK. I think Royal Prerogative has a lot to answer for.) 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 at least a Remain/Reform agenda acknowledges that there are issues with the EU. But it does disappoint me that, from the people who currently 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?
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. 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.