There were one or two disgruntled souls amongst us this morning as we sorted out the squabbling hens. The reason was twofold. As happens when daylight hours reduce the hens have reduced their egg output more than somewhat, it is a time when even the most enthusiastic questions the amount of work involved and its reward. But the main reason for Albert and Billy doing a Victor Meldrew was that the vote went aginst them at last night’s gathering of the alloments association. But, as someone pointed out, that’s democracy for you. Everyone has a vote and sometimes the verdict isn’t what one desires.
I have long suspected that the democracy that we Brits love to lecture other countries about only happens at local level. We elect MPs, which is democratic, but they are prevented by the parliamentary whip system from reflecting the feelings of their constituents, which isn’t. And today we have the perfect example.
In preparation for Monday’s vote on an EU referendum, the Daily Express commissioned a YouGov survey. The poll found that more than two-thirds of all voters – 67 per cent – would like their MPs to vote in favour of holding a referendum. Of Tory supporters 78 per cent were in favour, of Labour 59 per cent and of Lib Dems 57 per cent. Equally telling is the fact that 75 per cent wanted MPs to be free to vote according to their personal views, having taken readings in their constituencies. Immigration was cited as the biggest factor encouraging a desire to reconsider our EU links with 81 per cent and 60 per cent of Tories and Labour respectively making clear their unease.
So, this being a democracy, Monday’s vote will be an historic one. Actually no. Cameron, Miliband and Clegg have all imposed a three-line whip with instructions to their MPs to vote down the proposal for a referendum. Some MPs are so incensed that they may risk rebellion but anyone with even the faintest ambition for promotion will not dare to do so. But in defying public opinion perhaps the reviled trio are at least standing by their beliefs. Actually no!
The records show very clearly what each man promised before the election. Cameron was crystal clear, a Conservative government would hold an early referendum to establish the view of the people in regard to Brussels. Clegg claimed to be “passionate” about a referendum and added that; “We’ve been signed up to Europe by default; two generations have never had their say”. Miliband made no secret of his love of Europe, but did promise the referendum that both Blair and Brown failed to hold despite promising to do so.
It is therefore not unreasonable to charge all three with telling lies. Neither is it unreasonable to charge them with a total contempt for, and disregard of, democracy. Few see the benefits of being a member of a vast bureaucratic and unaccountable organisation. Few support many of the myriad of regulations, the talk of an EU army and constant leaks revealing waste and corruption. But that is beside the point which is that the people have a right to at least express a view.
Let us hope that at least some brave souls will refuse to be told what they can and cannot vote for on Monday. Norman Tebbit spoke for many people of all political persuasions when he said yesterday that imposition of a gag in parliament will “embitter” many. It will, he said, be seen by voters as “a mixture of threats, cowardice and clever political manoeuvring”.
It will also tell us a good deal about the snivelling and dishonest leaders of our so-called democracy!
TEST YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE WITH OUR WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. What did MGM stand for? 2. What colour is puce? 3. Which “Pop Idol” winner appeared on “You are What You Eat”? 4. Who was the first presenter of the TV series “Tomorrow’s World”? 5. Which cartoon character was the “fastest mouse in Mexico”? 6. Who had 90s No.1 hits with “The Power” and “Rhythm is a Dancer”? 7. Which US state is the second smallest? 8. According to the saying, who rush in where angels fear to tread? 9. What is Blue Vinney? 10. Who wrote “Five Children and It” and “Wet Magic“?