Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Brexit is not enough

Every now and then we see television pictures of massive crowds marching on their governments. The sort of crowd sizes we just don't see in the UK. We've seen some sizable demos but nothing like a mass march. Generally the point of these mass marches is to bring down corrupt governments. They are revolutions - a show of force to remind the powers that be that there are more of us than there are of them.

Thankfully, we don't have to do that. We have general elections which on occasion are minor revolutions. You could say Blair's victory in 1997 was something of a revolution. Certainly in terms of how it shaped the governance of the UK, it really was. But ever since then, voting has become increasingly meaningless. General elections have been robbed of their revolutionary potential because all we have left are two burnt out husks for parties and the rotten excretions calling themselves The Independent Group. We may yet find ourselves taking to the streets.

Brexit has brought some remedy to this in that there is at least a vague distinction between Labour and the Tories. The widest gap there has been for two decades. Still, though, we are looking at two Westminster centric parties both competing to rule rather than govern - with the Tories being only marginally less dreadful than Labour. In the face of a Corbyn rabble, no matter how badly the Tories perform, we might well be lumbered with them for a while to come.

Whoever wins at the next election, though, Westminster will still be in charge. Our politics will still be conducted through the prism of the London politico-media cesspit. That general election, therefore, will have no revolutionary potential. At best it's a change of management.

This, as we know, is unsustainable. Removing ourselves from the odious empire, itself a democracy inhibitor, was simply not enough. Being run remotely by London morons is no improvement on being run by Brussels lobbyists. In a lot of ways I can hardly blame the Scots for wanting to dissociate from the UK. They prefer subordination to Brussels over London incompetence.

They could very easily go their separate ways, rejoining the EU or perhaps Efta, and at this point you could understand if they did. What the Scots fail to appreciate, however, is that much of the country feels exactly the same way they do about the Westminster shambles. I just don't think grovelling back to Brussels is anything close to a solution for either.

Here is where we need to reframe the debate about sovereignty. By leaving the EU we are notionally reclaiming our national sovereignty but that has never been the precise problem. Parliament is now claiming that sovereignty for its own purposes, and if parliament is sovereign then we are not. That is the essential problem with representative democracy. It isn't democracy. We are allowed to vote for our London dictators from a very limited stock of identikit dross to whom we are subordinate. Between elections they can do pretty much whatever they like to us and we cannot stop them. That's why they ratified the Lisbon Treaty.

If there is any destination to the Brexit process that makes this worthwhile it is the constitutional reform necessary to ensure that they never get to do this to us again; to recognise that we the people are sovereign and anything London wants to do to us must be done with our direct consent. Anything that does not warrant a national consultation is not the business of London at all.

Whatever political thinkers in the Westminster bubble dream up, they are never going to arrive at a solution when any real solution involves Westminster giving up control. Our politicians are control freaks. Whatever crosses their path they tax, subsidise or ban. This is the fullest extent of their toolset. None of these crude instruments are capable of resolving the intractable divide in the country.

The answer, of course, is not to try fixing it. It is not fixable. There is no way to marry up the values of a metropolitan global city like London with the regions. Similarly solutions devised for Scotland have little relevance to the Devon/Cornwall peninsula. These are fundamentally different places with their own distinct needs where really only they can decide what is best for them.

Very often we talk of London as though it were another country entirely. That's largely because, in effect, it is. It's an independent global city state that just happens to tell us what to do when it has no more right to tell us how to live than Brussels does. For as long as our electoral process only decides who rules us from London then we cannot say we have meaningfully resolved anything.

In respect of that, the next stage in the struggle for democracy after Brexit looks and sounds pretty much the same as the campaign to leave the EU. We need to "take back control" and restore our individual sovereignty, taking powers back from the faceless bureaucrats of Whitehall. If we want regime change then we are going to have to go further than simply leaving the European Union.

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