Wednesday, 31 October 2018

We must rediscover the value of self-determination.

If you are a functioning intellect you should be able to look at your opponents cause and argue their case at least as well as, or better than they can just as a thought exercise. That is key to winning any argument. This is also why remainers lose the argument. They don't understand their opponents.

Very often I see somebody tweet something in respect of the economic effects of Brexit and inevitably someone will remark that we leavers just don't care. To a large extent they are right. What price do you put on democracy? Many of us leavers have their own distinct reasons for wanting to leave that do not involve immigration and freedom of movement is only a peripheral issue. Remainers, though, prefer to salve their wounded pride with the notion that xenophobia is the prime motivator. It at least affords them moral superiority.

Once you run wild with that notion - or the notion that leavers are thick, you're on a loser because you spend the rest of the time believing you are superior and your cause is the more righteous. Unsurprisingly that does not win friends and influence people. That is why Remain lost.

But then, for sure, there are those for whom freedom of movement was a very strong motivator in deciding to vote to leave. It is not without its problems. Predictably Remain set about a campaign of denialism which runs contrary to the lived experiences of leave voting folk. Much of the UK's problems stem from the fact that everything from hospitals to roads to sewers are running at capacity and investment cannot keep up. That has quality of life implications.

We also see how our city streets are used as transit camps by eastern Europeans - making them less safe and unsightly. I certainly didn't sign up for that. In fact, nobody did. We were never consulted and consent was never sought and the chief reason for that being that is asked we'd have said no.

Now that it's done remainers point to the very obvious economic benefits. We now have more goods and services available to us because we have an inexhaustible supply of cheap labour. Again remainers will deny the negative externalities of this and the point that it has changed the UK to a cash-rich convenience economy (with the cultural and attitudinal changes that come with it) is lost on remainers.

Much of the ire in relation to the EU is not specifically to do with the EU in that our continued integration with the EU is a symptom of our own political and democratic dysfunction where politicians deliberately exploit the overall lack of interest in the EU to take us deeper in by stealth. Moreover, because of the way the EU operates, measures which appear to be domestic are in fact on the instruction of the EU and so the extent of EU rule is generally obscured from view and not common knowledge.

Having been an associate of I have a long memory of it reporting "hidden Europe" where the media has utterly failed to detect the EU dimension to domestic law, particularly in matters of energy and utilities, and that is why remainers and many leavers in fact are appallingly ill informed as to how deep EU integration really goes. It is also why remainers have trouble believing that the EU controls us to the extent that it does. There is a singular lack of appreciation that the EU is a government.

What makes it hard for leavers is that though much is done without our knowledge and consent, it is often difficult to ascertain whether a policy failure is the result of EU or domestic measures. This is what we mean when we say there is no accountability. The government can blame its failures on the EU and vice versa.

We then find that EU measures are often quite popular in that they have laudable intent. On paper the Agency Workers Directive provides greater protections for temporary workers. In practice, though, it is my view that it has the precise opposite effect. That much is difficult to prove since there are policy overlaps with Westminster, but the central issue is that even if we could identify the culprit, and if it were the EU, we'd be waiting a decade at least for reform assuming  the Commission would even allow it on the agenda.

We are often told that the EU gives us workers rights. I don't think the levels of protection are necessarily superior or necessary, but the point being that in order for the EU to give us those rights it had to assume the power to do it which means that power is no longer our own to instruct our legitimate government in these such areas. Consequently our unions are redundant and have become obedient cogs in the machine.

Essentially this is that "democratic deficit". Here we get well funded EU activists like Femi Oluwole telling us that the EU is a democracy because we have perfunctory voting rituals at every level of the EU. It's that same denialism and an abuse of the meaning of the word democracy.

Keen to manage the perception that the EU has a democratic deficit it promotes its "citizen's initiative" supposedly enabling "EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies". This is tacked on to the Lisbon treaty as an accessory to address the basic oversight that citizens are not generally able to engage with EU policymaking. In a real democracy, however, citizen participation in the development of policy is the very essence of it. Again remainers are trying to spin away a gaping hole in their argument.

This is essentially why the europhiles lose the argument every time. Leavers can be beaten with economic metrics, many of which are undeniable and the economic case for Brexit falls to pieces. Yet, still, even when faced with catastrophic economic harm leavers are still as determined as ever. 

We have an establishment which downplays the influence of the EU, its denizens not even knowing what it does or how it goes about appropriating more powers, denying the very nature of the EU, while the EU version of democracy is really just a PR apparatus. 

Were I a remainer, I wouldn't even bother trying to shore up the lies of the EU and the establishment - in much the same way as I do not attempt to shore up the idiocy of Brexiteers. I wouldn't pretend the EU was a democracy. I would simply sell it on its merits as a benign technocracy. 

For all that the EU is accused of being the "EUSSR" it does not disappear journalists and there are no gulags. It is only malevolent in its effects rather than its actions and intentions - and no better or worse than any nation state. It is not a democracy, rather it is a managerial entity which has taken control of economic and social functions to raise standards uniformly across the continent. 

One can easily make a case that the EU, having taken control and set the parameters of government essentially protects the public from the worst excesses of democracy - muting the abilities of extremes on both sides of the argument. It is a stabilising influence. If faced with either a Rees-Mogg or a Corbyn future, that argument has its own appeal.

But even then we can argue that the devalued vote has gradually eroded people's faith in their own democracies which has actually led to this state we are in today. Government is something that is done to us and is not something we have meaningful participation in. For a time when the EU was largely limited to common standards on meat hygiene and metric measurements it was a tolerable, if unwelcome influence. Now though, it can instruct governments to enact laws that not only clash without values but also have far reaching social consequences. 

In the end though, the Brexit debate has become two sides talking past each other. Remainers are still ploughing ahead with all the classic economic tropes while leavers, disbelieving of the warnings, are still more intent on Brexit to "take back control". It would appear, exemplified by the Brexit negotiations, that we can have democracy or economic prosperity but not both.

But here, though, I return to the charter of The Leave Alliance. "The prosperity of the people depends on being able to exercise the fundamental right and necessity of self-determination, thus taking control of their opportunities and destiny in an inter-governmental global future with the ability to swiftly correct and improve when errors occur. Within the United Kingdom, our vision is for a government respectful of its people who will take on greater participation and control of their affairs at local and national level".

The relative prosperity we enjoy presently irrespective of Brexit is on borrowed time. There are a number of economic and social stresses which cannot be reconciled without fundamental reform. Remaining in the EU ensures that reform never happens and we limp on in a state of political stalemate, with an inept political class disengaged from vital policy making, now largely in the hands of Brussels, where all it can do is concoct sticking plasters and electoral bribes to ensure they stay in power. Politics is then debased and for that there are future consequences. 

As the nature of work is changing along with demographics and with the onset of technology of unimaginable disruptive influence, as much as we need an entirely new economic paradigm, is is essential that we retain the ability to correct and modify policy in ways that simply isn't possible in the EU. The Posted Workers Directive took no less than seven years to reform but is still by its very nature flawed and unjust. 

Citizenship is more than just the rights conferred by a passport. Part of citizenship is respect for the rule of law. That respect happens only because the people themselves have a role in the creation of that law. It is from democracy that it has legitimacy. In legislating on labour and social matters the EU is using powers it obtained illegitimately in pursuit of a an integrationist agenda which necessarily requires that the peoples of its member states are not able to diverge. By definition that is not democracy thus there can be no legitimacy. 

It is ultimately this rule of law, combined with responsive and legitimate government which is key to our future prosperity. Further erosion of democracy and a further debasement of politics will see growing dissatisfaction and popular dissent. Democracy is not just some vague concept. It runs right to the heart of the argument in terms of what has been done to us over the decades where we are no longer meaningfully in control and we are told that sovereignty and self-determination are outdated concepts. 

We therefore have to either grudgingly accept EU dominion and that there is no alternative to a more transient, technocratic society, or decide whether we believe that democracy has to mean more than simply casting a vote in a hollow ritual every five years. This is the choice we were given in 2016. 

Since then we have seen that remainers have no faith in the British people, democracy or the abilities of this country and compel us to prioritise their immediate economic convenience over self-determination. That 48% would have voted for such a miserable proposition tells us that we've forgotten the meaning of the word democracy and why it is so precious. 

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