Sunday, 22 May 2016

A letter to British voters

Dear British voter,

Terribly sorry to interrupt your largely apolitical lives with all this referendum nonsense. Must be an awful chore to have to inform yourselves about something and make a decision. This is normally what you pay politicians for.

The problem is, as you have probably noticed of late, the politicians don't do a particularly good job of it. Much of the reason for this is they are trying to do the job with one hand tied behind their backs. They have to implement law we had little or no say in, and those laws tell us what we can and cannot do - which means we can only do some things within certain parameters. That is why it doesn't matter who you vote for in a general election.

But after forty years of this arrangement our politicians have grown to like it. They get all of the perks, get to go to Brussels and feel important but take none of the actual responsibility. That is why most of them don't want to leave the EU. Saves them having to do any real thinking.

Some of us though, believe that this is no way to run a country and while it already has cost us jobs and growth we believe it will cost even more jobs and even more growth. We think that a system of governance designed in the last century is no good for the globalised internet connected world and now that the rules are made at the global level it might be a good idea if we were allowed a free vote and a veto at that level. The EU prevents us from doing that.

The corporates who have a big say in the making of these rules and regulations prefer it that we don't have a say so they also want us to stay in the EU. In fact everybody who doesn't want British voters taking an interest and participating in real politics wants us to stay in the EU. Change is something they definitely do not want. To my mind this is exactly why we should want to change things.

By now you will have been told by the great and the good that the sky will fall in and nobody will want to talk to us if we leave the EU. You strongly suspect it's bullshit and you are absolutely right. But then if you have looked at the Leave campaign you've seen tosspots like Boris Johnson blithering on about bananas and concluded it's not that important. You're half right. Johnson is an idiot, but regulation is mega important and it's everywhere. It touches almost everything you do.

Idiots like Johnson want to get rid of it all. That's largely because he doesn't know what it's for and hasn't bothered to find out. But it's here to stay. What matters is who makes it and whether we can say no to it. Increasingly the EU is not the top table we have been led to believe it is. It is a redundant middleman which has been obsolete for some time and it prevents us saying no to rules we don't want. We are becoming passengers, robbed of our rights.

So what does happen if we leave? Well, to be honest, not a lot to begin with. Not so you would notice. After forty years of political and economic integration, leaving it overnight is impossible. If you vote to leave it's just an instruction to send the process into reverse. We will leave the same way we went in. Gradually.

So why bother? Well, the EU isn't a trade bloc and it's not an alliance. It is a political entity with its own ambitions of becoming a supreme government for Europe, and it does not in any way believe in democracy. It thinks things work better without it. A lot of people actually agree with that view and there are some days when it's hard not to disagree - especially when you look at the bozos in Westminster.

However, democracy (people power) should not be given up on. We have loaned our collective power to our politicians in Westminster and they have, without our permission, given those powers away - and there is nothing much to stop them giving the last of it away either. And that's not good.

Democracy is very easy to give up on but very hard to get back. It seldom ever happens without civil unrest or all out civil war. We on the leave side have many disagreements but we are all agreed that the EU project will not end well.

You may also have got the gist that this is also about immigration. That's true. It's not about keeping Europeans out and that freedom to work and travel to Europe will remain. But the current immigration system is a mess, badly in need of reform and definitely won't be reformed if we stay in the EU.

In fact, virtually nothing will be reformed if we stay in the EU. Getting twenty eight countries to agree on anything is next to impossible so once something is settled it is seldom up for debate again. That means a bad policy imposed on us without our consent is usually here to stay. If we leave the EU we will be free to complete rethink trade, energy, agriculture fishing and environment issues. It will be the biggest shake up of government since World War Two. And not before time.

I make no bones about it. This is a huge change in our relations with Europe and it is a revolution in government at here home. It will cause a period of political disruption and like all change there will be winners and losers. But this is not about the next five or ten years. This is about the long term future of Britain as an independent nation, capable of self governance.

I take the view that whatever it may cost, it will be worth it. Things do need to change and after nearly twenty years of watching the EU closely I believe we will be safer, better off and more democratic if we leave.

If you have kids, I know you'll be worried about their future. You know full well that democracy is dying, homeownership for your kids looks improbable and things don't seem to be getting any more peaceful. I don't believe for a minute that staying in the EU will deliver more jobs either. I think we've been lied to. I think it's time we sent the politicians a message and it is definitely time for reform.

If I had to sum Brexit up on one word I would say it's primarily about change. We've had more or less the same system since the war and it has failed adapt to the times ever since. The EU is a massive obstacle to major democratic reform, not least because that is what it was designed to do.

Our rulers fear democracy. They fear change. They do not trust the people and believe the only way to keep the peace is to rob us of our power. That has never worked and I cannot think of anything more likely to shatter the hard won peace of Europe.

This is not about leaving "Europe". This is about ending the supremacy of a remote political entity which has no democratic mandate. There may be a price to pay if we leave, but we can manage. But history shows us that people without democracy will always pay a far heavier price. It is better that we pay for our mistake now than to pass the consequences of our political cowardice onto the next generation. Our democracy is not ours to give away. We are only custodians of it. History will think us fools if we surrender it so easily. Please, vote to leave.

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