One of the most frustrating and dispiriting experiences of the last couple of decades has been watching and listening to people who you knew should have known better arguing in favour institutions which are fundamentally undemocratic… and so often doing so in the name of democracy!
The recent hoo-ha about elected Mayors for some of our major cities is just one of the latest examples. Those in favour used the most pious and sanctimonious arguments to try to justify concentrating more power into the hands of fewer people, more often than not doing so by saying it was in the name of ‘democracy’. Fortunately, as with the proposal to introduce the alternative vote, the electorate weren’t having it.
The European Union and it’s single currency were probably the two biggest examples of the last twenty-odd years. As the Eurozone stumbles from crisis to crisis we barely hear a squeak from the hoards of Liberal Democrat and Labour Eurofanatics who promised us that the EU was the pathway to Nirvana and the Single Currency did everything from guaranteeing unending economic growth to providing world peace. We were told our industrial relations, health and safety, employment protection and social legislation around equalities, maternity/paternity rights, etc would all be delivered to us from on high by the good folk of the European Union. Those few of us on the Labour left who argued that the EU and the Single Currency meant handing over sovereignty to an undemocratic and unaccountable body were dismissed as being xenophobes and opposed to ‘internationalism’.
So, without a hint of a smug ‘told you so’, here’s an article from 10 years ago by Gary Younge explainIng why the Euro was a bad idea then…
…and here’s another one from today by Nick Cohen saying pretty much the same thing…
The European crisis is as much political as economic. It raises fundamental democratic questions. By what right do you govern us? How can we control you while you are in power and how can we remove you if your governance fails?
And as Cohen adds, say what you will about George Osborne (and God knows, there’s plenty to say)…..
Given the fact that the electorate got it right on elected Mayors and AV, perhaps it is no wonder the elites of all three main political parties don’t trust the British people on Europe. They might just get it right!