Friday, 7 March 2008

Whoever You Vote For, The EU Gets In

So, they went and did it.

Despite the Manifesto promise (Link). Despite the recent polls that showed 88% of over 150,000 people to be in favour of a referendum (Link). Despite the fact that the treaty represents still further integration into the EU.

I've heard the 'representative democracy' argument against referenda on more than one occasion (e.g. Link). But, really, it's academic. Because this argument rests on the idea that our "representatives" (that is, the MPs we elect) represent us. Instead, they say one thing when they are trying to get elected, and then they do another. They realise that a) those members of the public sufficiently politically engaged to have an opinion on this topic are overwhelmingly in favour of a referendum, and b) if they held a referendum, the vote would be strongly against the ratification of the treaty.

All three major political parties are pro-EU. New Labour, as you know, have discarded the promise they made when re-elected in 2005. Their justification, that the Lisbon Treaty is not the EU constitution, is paper-thin (see this post). The argument that the Lisbon Treaty (PDF) is too complex a document on which to hold a referendum does have some merit - but perhaps they should have thought of that before coming up with the manifesto, not now!

The Conservative Party may have voted for a referendum, but the suspicion that the Tory leadership is all mouth and no trousers on this, as on certain other issues, remains. Devil's Kitchen (via the Daily Mail's Broganblog) has more on the behaviour of the Conservative whips ahead of votes on amendments to the treaty Bill (Link) earlier in the week. It was, of course, the Tories who among other things refused to hold a referendum on the Maastricht treaty in 1992 (Link).

As for the Liberal Democrats, the article by Matthew Norman in today's Independent is on the button. The demand for a referendum on EU membership rather than the treaty was a red herring - a cop-out. Although there is a strong argument that British refusal to ratify the Lisbon Treaty would set the UK on the road to leaving the EU, the Lib Dems' failure to vote for a referendum on those grounds is utterly presumptuous - If continued EU membership is so essential to the UK and its citizens, convince us of that at the time of referendum on the Treaty. To weasel around the referendum issue in the way you have, Liberal Democrats, is contemptible.

It's not as though it hasn't been obvious for some time, but our supposed representatives in this democracy do not represent us - they represent what they think is good for us. We have seen fairly strong evidence of this in the past, but this tops the lot. That they have gone back on the now-infamous manifesto commitment is surely confirmation. Why should we trust them to follow up on anything they pledge again? We might as well just forget about the whole democracy thing in this country, for on the basis of this display of chicanery it is just a charade.

It's embryonic at the moment, and its brand of free-market libertarianism isn't entirely to my taste, but I'm going to become a member of the UK Libertarian Party anyway. If for no other reason than that it represents a potential break from the rotten political status quo. Where 3 barely distinguishable parties, colluding to give up parliamentary sovereignty (EU Referendum) compete at election-time based on little but pretense. And, thing is, I reckon a hell of a lot of other people all across the country feel the same way...

1 comment:

Willbert said...

There is still a window open: Free Europe Constitution.

Vote YES or NO at