A dry day with the guarantee of several wet ones to come. Thus tempted we decided on a show of hands on painting the ‘stores’ shed instead of going our various ways this afternoon. Most in favour, Albert and Bill definitely against. Albert, who had planned to watch his local non-league team in action, was miffed and bumbled around muttering about ‘bloody democracy’. In reality it exists only in small groups such as ours. At national level we constantly lecture troubled countries about the aim of democracy, but tend to ignore the fact that our system of government is anything but democratic.
Every week brings examples of politicians pressing on with policies that were not so much as mentioned at the general election, and this government is no worse than its predecessors. Lansley’s decimation of the NHS is an obvious example, but the daddy of them all is Europe. Demands for a referendum on EU membership have rumbled on for years, all three major parties have invariably produced one cock-and-bull story after another to avoid allowing the populace to express an opinion.
Today we have the result of a special constituency poll conducted by the multi-party ‘People’s Pledge’ organisation. Over 47,000 ballot forms were distributed across the Thurrock constituency and the ‘turn-out’ was over one-third, higher than that in many local ‘democratic’ elections. No fewer that 89.9% backed a referendum!
Ian McKenzie, the campaign’s communications director, said that the outcome is “unignorable”, and added that the sitting MP and her Labour opponent cannot “stick their fingers in their ears”. The number voting for a referendum was almost equal to the number that elected Jackie Doyle-Price, the Conservative candidate at the general election, but she continues to vote against any move in parliament to trigger a referendum.
The question asked on the ballot paper was a simple one; “Voters should be given a national referendum on whether the UK remains a member of the European Union. Agree or disagree?”. Of course it doesn’t follow that those in favour of a democratic process are necessarily against membership, but many people are beginning to ask what benefits we actually derive.
Perhaps the biggest negative is the right of any EU citizen to come to the UK. Our population growth is out of control and our infrastructure overwhelmed, yet each month sees large numbers arrive from Eastern Europe. Close behind this negative is the enormous cost of membership and the obligation to help fund struggling economies within the Euro, plus the constant implications of control of our courts and employment laws.
But I musn’t bang on about negatives for supporters of EU membership will have their own counter-arguments. The point is that neither the pros nor the cons are ever allowed to voice an opinion. The Labour party and the Lib Dems seem intoxicated with the European dream and are both determined not to risk the electorate disagreeing. The Conservatives are divided and its leaders are perfectly happy to use the Clegg factor as an excuse for refusing the people a voice.
Of course politicians study polls in the way that Albert studies certain pages of The Sun. They know that the overwhelming public view is anti-EU membership and they have no intention of risking that becoming a formal statement.
There is nothing we can do about it other than accept that we do not live in a democracy. Bit of an overstatement? Hardly. If an MP votes against the expressed view of almost nine out of ten of the people she represents, it seems a very reasonable accusation!
THE MOST ALARMING QUOTE OF THE DAY!
“Here we are 14 years later with the worst kind of blatent and violent racism by police. Even worse is that the officers appear to be doing it openly in front of colleagues. Such a group of constables could not be routinely racist like this without their seniors being aware and telling them to stop. I fear this is more than just a few bad apples!”
Yesterday; Dr Richard Stone, a former member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel.