Sunday, 12 November 2017

The battle for democracy has only just begun

Over on his blog, Oliver Norgrove remarks that "Three years ago I asked myself a very simple question. How do I, an EU citizen, influence EU policy? I came quite quickly to the conclusion that I couldn't, and I have not veered from this analysis".

That is really the essence of it. I know that in more than one instance I have influenced the national debate. The Leave Alliance bloggers put a number of arguments on the map. We may be losing the war against the Brexit ultras but we have not made it easy for them and in many instances have been well ahead of the pack in exposing their methods and motives.

Starting from a position of relative campaigning inexperience a number of our ideas have been aired in the Commons and there are occasional hints that some things we have said have been taken on board. We have punched above our weight. We are, however, up against a number of influential blockers with far greater resources and better access to the Westminster machinery.

This points to a number of problems in our own democracy not least the collapse in ethical standards which has led to the Legatum Institute becoming a privately funded shadow civil service. This has not gone unnoticed and in the near future we will have this out.

In fact, the main reason some in the media are alert to Leagtum is because we made it that way. With persistence, patience and skill, with only modest resources, it is possible to influence British politics. There are many questions to be asked as to have we can improve that, but it remains the case that we can at least make a difference.

Part of that reason is is the common language and culture of our politics. Westminster, for right or wrong, is the focal point, and our media is geared to that dynamic. That is the basis of a demos. Something the EU can never accomplish.

But in many ways Westminster and the EU share a number of similarities. For instance, Legatum Institute does not enjoy a position of influence from the quality of its work. Nobody with a grounding in the basics of trade, or with a working knowledge of how single market systems function, has anything good to say about Legatum Institute.

The way the Legatum serpent has coiled its way around the throat of government is to tell those with the power exactly what they want to hear. It is easy to gain influence in you skilfully play the vanity and ignorance of politicians. The system, therefore, is wide open to abuse by those with less than honest motives. Just like the European Union.

Norgrove asked how he could influence policy and concluded that he can't. He's right. He can't. Nor can I. But there are plenty of people who will tell you they can and they have. What they all share in common is that they have bought into the EU wholesale and have gone native. As we head into the most critical point in Brexit negotiations, they are the ones gaslighting for the EU.

These will be the bland, compliant functionaries of the Jo Cox ilk. Fully signed up to every soft left agenda of the NGOcracy and politically correct to to the core. Exactly the sort of people who will tell the EU exactly what it wants to hear - that we should have more EU regulation, more power for them and less for us.

Ultimately the EU only hears that which it wants to hear. Every single one of our MEPs could belong to a eurosceptic party, and irrespective of how effective they were, they would still not influence the technocratic agenda of the EU and would not be in a position to block initiatives even if they voted unanimously.

Were our Mr Norgrove to turn up to Brussels dressed in a blue and yellow leotard singing Ode to Joy, scribbling crayon drawings pleading for the EU to do more to reduce fossil fuel usage, he'd be on the cover of every glossy internal PR rag and eventually given a cushy Eurocrat job - on a very tidy salary. Not for nothing do NGO wonks have a life of frequent expenses paid travel to Brussels and Strasbourg to attend workshops and jamborees.

Ultimately the EU will never get the message because it's just not receptive to inputs contrary to its fanatical devotion to ever closer union. Consequently, it can only ever become more remote and out of touch. There is nothing to interrupt the the closed circuit. It pays NGOs to lobby itself to the point where it's stuffed to the gunwales with conformists, and then wonders why the public do not relate to it.

There is a well trodden career path for those who want a ride on the gravy train, but from the outset requires that all critical faculties are suspended and all scepticism to be spoken only in private. After forty years of membership we now have a well pensioned legion of Euro-aristocracy who will take their message of brotherhood and unity out to the plebs.

Having cemented itself so deeply into the civil institutions of the UK it enjoys unparalleled influence over UK political culture which explains the gulf between the establishment and the electorate. They inhabit entirely different worlds.

In this respect, Brexit is only the first battle in a long war for democracy. The EU successfully mounted a silent coup, taking control of the UK. What we are watching now is an attempted counter-coup by the Tory establishment. Neither side is interested in democracy and neither side will ever seek public consent for their agenda. They will simply use the mechanisms of state to manufacture the illusion of consent.

Though this is of grave concern, the point remains that through that same patience and persistence we have a shot at derailing the agenda of the Tory right. That is why localised democracy is the only real protection we have - and the only means by which we can usefully defend ourselves against unwholesome agendas.

Very often I am told by pragmatic remainers that if they have to choose between the EU regime and one of the Tory right then they prefer the devil they know. But to that I say we are not forced to choose between two equally dismal outcomes. We outnumber them, the power is ours and all we have to do is use it.

I have made no bones about this. Brexit is a revolution - but leaving the EU of itself is only the beginning of the process. The removal of the EU will lead to a power vacuum and the Tories are attempting to fill it. I do not see that they will succeed in that they have already overplayed their hand. The immediate battle, therefore, is to ensure they do not enact their scorched earth policy on the way out. Either way, the battle to "take back control" only begins on Brexit day. If you thought leaving the EU alone was "mission accomplished" then you never understood the problem. 

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