24 June 2016

Selling England by the pound

I have been getting more and more disenchanted with the political process for at least 25 years: a few days ago I started a blog post on this theme, quoting from A Day of Infamy | Coffee House: "I cannot recall ever feeling worse about this country and its politics than is the case right now."

Now matters have gone even further. Never have I felt as dismayed about the state of politics, the country, the continent, the world, as today. We have been let down by politicians abdicating responsibility for one of the most fundamental elements of our political and economic existence, by handing the decision on whether to remain in the European Union or leave it to that bluntest of democratic instruments, a referendum: and compounding their error by abjectly failing to explain to the voters how to make an informed decision. Had a majority in full possession of the facts voted to leave with a good understanding of what they were leaving, and what they were leaving it for, that would have been a very different matter.

Worse still, older voters have caused immense damage to the futures of their children, grandchildren and further generations. Figures which have been bandied about on the Internet purport to show that almost twice as many younger voters as older ones voted remain, but they did not prevail in a matter which will affect them much more than it will people of my age or older.

The campaign has focused on immigration, though much of it comes from outside the EU and the topic is therefore about half irrelevant (and to the extent that it is relevant, it ignores the contribution made to our economy by workers from countries such as Poland, without whom the service sector would grind to a halt). It has also focused on sovereignty, despite the fact that Parliament remains, and has always remained, sovereign - a matter which will soon, perhaps, be demonstrated when it refuses to pass legislation to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make provision for Brexit. (A good friend, justifying his "leave" vote, cited as one of his reasons the way EU legislation was made, proposed by unelected Commission officials: just like in the UK, where legislation is drawn up by unelected civil servants before being debated in Parliament, exactly as happens in the EU - except that so much of the UK's legislation comes in secondary form, made by ministers using delegated powers, with Parliamentary scrutiny little more than a fiction).

And, as if to rub salt into the wound, there are at least a couple of leave voters - young ones - on media websites, being interviewed by news reporters, saying that they didn't think it would matter which way they voted, and actually they didn't want to leave at all. Proof, it were needed, that the whole exercise was not taken seriously enough. Proof of the infinite stupidity of some parts of the electorate.

I had my fill of political campaigning years ago. I am completely cured of any impulse to go out knocking on doors or handing out leaflets. But I feel not a little guilty about leaving this important matter to others - I thought it was in the hands of the professionals. Jeremy Corbyn is now threatened with a vote of no confidence: had I been him, or perhaps his evil Machiavellian twin, I would have been tempted to support the remain campaign as lukewarmly as I could get away with, in the expectation that when the Conservative Party and the government imploded I might pick up some rather juicy pieces ... But, as we can see, that would have been a very dangerous game. The prosperity and standing of our country is not something to be treated lightly.

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