Monday, 28 August 2017
Labour shuffles towards sanity
The big political news of the weekend is that Labour has realised it would be a good idea for the UK to remain in the EU single market for a transition period after Brexit until trade deals with others have been sorted out.
That this should be big news, hitting the front pages and leading the bulletins, illustrates the pathetic lack of backbone in our politicians. Note what policy has actually changed. Not what surely is now obvious, that we should stay in the EU, but just stay in the single market. And not in the single market permanently, but just for a traditional period..
So effectively, if this Labour idea wins the day, we are lumbered with the Norway option, of obeying all EU rules but having no part in making them, and then just for while until we plunge out into the commercial cold.
Politicians with any guts would have had the courage to state, immediately after the advisory referendum, thanks for your advice but, on such a small majority after a flawed referendum and fraudulent campaign, we won't take it: we'll stay where we are but give urgent priority to those issues which we think motivated you, quite rightly, to give us a metaphorical kick in the teeth.
Either that or the rather less courageous Liberal Democrat option: we will waste time in carrying out negotiations to leave, and then have another referendum on whatever deal we achieve.
Some time ago a leading Labour politician, I forget which, admitted that, if public opinion changes Labour's policy could change too. This is spineless populism: tell us what your principles are and we'll adopt them. The late Tony Benn delighted in pointing out that he regarded his function in politics to be a signpost and not a weathervane. Our political parties should have the courage to lead and not be blind followers of a superficial public emotion whipped up by well-financed agitators and a biassed press.
In fairness it may be that Labour are playing a long, or "softly-softly" game in which, to curry favour with their Brexit voters they have initially adopted a policy identical to that of the Tories. Now they have shifted a bit. Maybe, in some sort of Fabian gradualism, there are more shifts in the pipeline. I hope so.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but, as the overwhelming evidence of the folly of Brexit is revealed day buy day, it is both timid and time-wasting.
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Politicians with any guts would have had the courage to state, immediately after the advisory referendum, thanks for your advice but, on such a small majority after a flawed referendum and fraudulent campaign, we won't take it: we'll stay where we are but give urgent priority to those issues which we think motivated you, quite rightly, to give us a metaphorical kick in the teeth.ReplyDelete
Isn't that… incredibly patronising?
In my view it's common sense. Sometimes it's better to admit mistakes (eg allowing a referendum without the necessary rules)rather than continue with a policy that is bad for the country and the people you represent.Delete
But isn't it incredibly patronising to tell people, 'We know what you voted for better than you do'?Delete
I mean you're basically treating them like children.
(By 'the necessary rules' do you mean, 'the rules which would have ensured that the option I like won'?)
At the very least the "necessary rules" should have included:Delete
1. Something akin to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act of 1983 to try to achieve a greater level of honesty in the campaign and
2. A requirement for a "super-majority," which even a golf club or a music society normally needs to change its constitution,to authorise such a major change.
That MPs of all parties (and members of the House of Lords, many of whom are highly qualified lawyers) failed to include such obvious safeguards is scandalous. Those still in parliament are culpable, should apologies and take any blame which may emanate from outraged Leavers.
For a more thorough discussion of the pros and cons see:
and hyperlinks to other posts.
You concede the point that it's incredibly patronising then?Delete
(Was the campaign not already weighed unfair enough against Leave by the way the entire machinery and money of government was turned towards getting a Remain result? You want to slant the paying field even more? How could Leave ever have won then?)
Yes, but the counterweight was the money from various sources that went into the Leave campaign (including, it is now alleged, some jiggery-pokery with the betting odds) and the bias of the popular press, much of it owned by foreigners and tax exiles.Delete
Re "patronising," I agree there is an element of that in a representative democracy. In theory at least we choose wise persons to debate great issues and then use their judgement to make decision on our behalf.
The Remain campaign had the entire weight of the Treasury behind it, though (for example there was that Remain leaflet, printed by the government, that was sent to every household in the country, which I don't think was even counted towards campaign spending because it was put out before the official campaigns started).Delete
So I don't think that Leave had much of an advantage there, and was probably actually behind.
Adding additional hurdles like a super-majority just makes it look like you weren't interested in it actually being a fair attempt to find out what people want for the future of the country, and more like you're trying to stack the deck to ensure that your preferred outcome won.
There may always be an element of being patronising in a representative democracy, but surely there's a big gap between 'an element' and explicitly telling millions of people, 'you didn't understand what you voted for, we know what you want better than you'.
What if they did understand? What if they aren't stupid, or brainwashed? What if they just disagree with you on a fundamental level?
This deserves more than just a comment. See previous post (when I've written it.)Delete
The trouble with referendums - and why they are widely discredited - is that people don't always answer the question posed, but view it as an opportunity between general elections to annoy the government of the day.ReplyDelete