Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A clarification

One of the constant bleats by those who oppose a referendum on the Reform Treaty—or, more properly, the Treaty Amending The Treaty On European Union And The Treaty Establishing The European Community [PDF]—is that we live in a "representative democracy". A suitably typical example, by Katherine, can be found over at Unity's Ministry.
Oh Jim, Jim - “denial of democratic choice over the EU”? I have to say that that just shows your ignorance of democracy and the UK’s form of it. We have something called “representative democracy”, not direct democracy in the sense of referenda on everything.

If you think that not having a refendum on this particular EU treaty is not democratic, I expect then that you support referenda generally as a way of deciding policy in this country? No? Well then, don’t attack people who don’t agree with the idea of having a referendum on this particular EU treaty as denying democratic choice, because that is, quite frankly, a brainless description of a disagreement over what things should or shouldn’t go to a referendum.

Unfortunately, it is Katherine who is the fucking ignorant one here. As she points out we "have something called “representative democracy”, not direct democracy". What this means is that those who are looking to be elected tell the electorate what they will do if they are returned.

They do this by means of something called a Manifesto, a wee document which incorporates a statement of intent with various pledges and promises. NuLabour's 2005 Manifesto included a pledge to hold a plebiscite on the EU Constitution.

In other words, when NuLabour represented themselves to the people, this referendum was one of their promises. The Labour Party promised that they would do this if returned to government and that is what "representative democracy" is all about: you represent yourself to the voters.

Thus, the whole contention that, if you support a referendum on this issue, then you have to "support referenda generally as a way of deciding policy" is nothing less than a fucking lie.

Thus the one and only question on this issue is this: is the Reform Treaty equivalent to the EU Constitution and thus is NuLabour's represented election pledge which should be binding upon them?

As you will know, I believe that the Reform Treaty has substantially the same effect as the EU Constitution and that the government's red lines—the main red herring that NuLabour has now turned to in order to deflect referendum calls—are not only unsound but were anyway all in place before the referendum pledge was made at the 2005 general election.

As such, Unity, you are right that it's "not the government who’re behaving like cowards here"*: they are behaving like lying cunts who refuse to honour the manifesto pledges under which they represented themselves to the voting population.

As such, the NuLabour government are undermining the very principle of the "representative democracy" that so many anti-referendum arseholes purport to support.

And it is all very well saying that...
... it will be for the electorate to judge them according on that decision and the extent to which it influences their choice of who to vote for when their is a general election...

...but what on earth is the electorate to believe is they cannot believe the manifestos that their election candidates represent themselves under?

Besides, by the next election the Reform Treaty is likely to be in place, passed into British law, and it will be too late then (more on that later).

So I shall repeat the clarification, which is this: the only argument is whether the Reform Treaty is equivalent to the EU Constitution and thus qualifies under the Labour Party's manifesto promise to hold a referendum.

* I'll deal with Hague and Cameron's vacillation in the morning.


Newmania said...

1 The red lines were substantially present at the time the referendum was offered( says Gisella and others )
2 The referendum was offered depsite the fact the Constitution was called a " codifying " and clarifying measure at the time .
Now they have changed their mind but a credibility problem looms
3 We have a representative government but those represntatives are not permitted to curtail the powers of succeeding administrations . It is not a written rule know but it is the rule nonenthelss
4 There is no mandate for a new country only a customs union
5 The intricacies said to be beyond the electorate were not so in 1972
6 The representative argument is generally a good one but not in this case for the above reasons . If the same people would now stop going back to Iraq I would be grateful

Foreign Policy by rolling big brother plebiscite is about the worst idea I have ever heard yet many of the same people seem to be advocating just that

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic... does this job ad from Ruth Lea's Global Vision break EU employment law (see "Requirements")? Irony said to be on high alert.

Anonymous said...

Look, you need to understand: the treaty is good for Britain because ZanuLabour tells us it is good for Britain. You need to trust your betters. They know what's good for you, for your country and for your community. And if you question them, that only proves how morally worthless and evil - yes, evil - you actually are.

Unfortunately, being as the British electorate are all functionally retarded (and crypto-racist xenophobes to boot), you cannot trust the rubber-faced drooling mongoloids of these islands to make up their minds on such an important topic, which is why you need ZanuLabour to make up your mind for you.

Sure, you could have a referendum but, for fuck's sake, knowing how stupid the Europhobic British electorate is, voters would probably eat their ballot papers or use them as toilet paper or, at the very least, draw doodles on them.

Face facts, friends: the Europhiles know that you are too stupid, too utterly fucking retarded, to trust with this decision. You would only make the wrong decision and you know it - I mean, look at DK! Time and again, he rails against the EU when everybody knows that the EU is good and, by extension, to go against the EU is evil. How can you be trusted with a referendum when our esteemed governemnt knows that you would make the wrong decision?

In the eyes of the righteous (i.e., the Europhiles), the British electorate have all the intellect and political awareness of an eight year old Down's Syndrome mong with his head stuck in some pailings and snot and tears running down his face.

By denying us this silly old "democracy" that you Europhobes twitter on about, ZanuLabour is doing us a tremendous favour. So fuckers like DK - and all the rest of you ignorant cunts who bitch about outdated concepts like democracy, sovereignty and the national interest - would be better placed getting down on your hands and knees and thinking (and possibly fellating, with swallowing) ZanuLabour for removing from your hands the temptation to reject our glorious EU overlords.

I mean, where exactly do you think we would be without the EU? Think on the benefits we'd lose, benefits such as.... Or there's.... Okay, so I'm not going to play the childish game of enumerating all the benefits of the EU because they are so obvious, so all-encompassing. I mean, for the love of Christ, if it wasn't for our membership of the EU, the whole sodding island of Britain would probably sink into the sea - but that's what you Europhobes want, isn't it? You sick bastards.

Listen to the message of your lord and master, Mr. Broon: you are dolts and, as such, cannot be trusted to make the right (i.e., ZanuLabour-endorsed) decision. Shut your mouths, pay your taxes and let your left-liberal superiors get on with the job of running your life for you.

Unity said...

With due respect to people's intelligence, I have to say that having read a fair amount of the treaty I really do not trust that a referendum would result in an outcome that genuinely serves the UKs best interest, whatever the final outcome would be.

That's not because people are necessarily incapable of understanding the issues but because:

a) The treaty itself is a veritable masterpiece of legal and bureaucratic obfuscation. It's just not written in a way that suggests that anyone but the political elite are intended to understand the damn thing, and

b) The general standard of political discourse and debate on the issue - outside the blogosphere and one of two of the broadsheets - is, not to put too fine a point on it - shit. Too many crude generalisations, too much Sun reader-speak and too little intelligent and nuanced discussion.

As I said, in replying to DK over at my own place, in my view we have reached a stage where the EU should have a written constitution. Not the one that's been put forward by the EU and Europe's political classes and which may, or may not be, the Reform Treaty, but one drawn up and debated by open constitutional conventions across Europe, rebuilding the EU from the bottom up on the basis of a wide and far-ranging open public debate in which everything is up for grabs and open to scrutiny.

There are areas in which European cooperation and even a degree of integration is benefical to the UK's interest - a free and open European market for trade and commerce, for example.

Such a market can only work effectively if there are some common rules that ensure that the market is open, free and fair - things like regulation of natural monopolies, breaking up of cartels and rules to ensure fair competition, prevent state subsidies and provide for harmonised laws of contract, etc.

Where I'm at here is that while I don't trust 'the people' to fully understand the EU as it exists, and therefore make informed judgements about where the UK's interests lie, I do trust 'the people's' capacity, given a blank slate, to debate, discuss, formulate and and work towards a democratically agreed 'model' for European cooperation and, where justified, integration that suits our collective interests under a written constitution that clear defines the parameters and limitations of the legitimate authority of European institutions.

The question I'd pose to DK, and to other Eurosceptics and Euronihilists even, is that, given the option of such a process, a open public debate, fully participatory constitutional conventions and all the trimmings, with no stone left unturned and all elements of the European 'project' up for debate, revision, reform (and scrapping if necessary) would you get involved or would still take the view that nothing other than complete withdrawal is the only acceptable option?

Anonymous said...

Unity - What you're offering is not on offer from the EU and never will be: the leopard is not in danger of acquiring stripes. Name one power that's been repatriated by national parliaments since 1973 and then we can talk.

Anonymous said...

Unity's argument still comes down to the same thing: since the result of a referendum would be 'no, there can be no referendum.

The only situation in which Unity and Co. will accept a referendum is if it gives them the result they demand.

Some democracy.