Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Liberals continue ditching democracy

As well as the party's youth wing changing the name and ditching "Democrats" (see Young Lib Dems to become a lie?), the party is retreating from democracy in other areas. Nick Clegg has announced that his party will vote against letting the people of this country have their say on whether or not political power should be transferred.

Many often argue against referendums, making the case that we elect Parliament to make decisions for us. And this is true. But that is a very different thing from whether or not Parliament should have the right to give powers away; powers that will be very hard to retrieve. There is an unwritten agreement between Parliament and the people, and any changes to that agreement should be assented to by both.

Nick Clegg seems scared of a referendum - does he think he wouldn't win one? Doesn't he have the self-confidence to put the case for the treaty to the people? If so then he truly is a yellow politician. Instead he's calling for a basic referendum on whether or not we should be in the European Union at all - a worthy thing in itself but since such a vote is currently unlikely he is merely using it to appear to support democracy whilst in actual fact undermining it.

And at the last general election all three parties promised a referendum on the Constitution. That the treaty is very similar is a conclusion reached by even the committees of the House of Commons, so the nomenclature is no excuse for backing away from one. As Austin Mitchell said in the Commons:

If it looks like a constitution, if it smells like a constitution, if it reads like a constitution, so far as I'm concerned it's a constitution.
(Source: BBC News: In quotes: EU treaty debate
One of the reasons for the great alienation from the European Union in this country is the way that politicians have sought to keep the debate amongst themselves, telling the people that it was all about free trade as an ends in itself and then claiming the project was just about "modernisation" and "expansion", rather than being open about the goal of European unity. A referendum would give pro Europeans the opportunity to put their case to the people and seek to re-engage the public on this issue. Instead politicians like Nick Clegg (a former Member of the European Parliament) choose instead to perpetuate and extend the democratic deficit.


David Boothroyd said...

Austin Mitchell applies the 'duck test': "If it looks like a constitution, if it smells like a constitution, if it reads like a constitution, so far as I'm concerned it's a constitution."

Unfortunately for anyone wanting to pursue this line the Lisbon Treaty looks, smells and reads nothing like a constitution. It looks, smells and reads just like an amending treaty. See full text; what constitution starts "The Treaty on European Union shall be amended in accordance with the provisions of this Article"?

Manfarang said...

"There is an unwritten agreement between parliament and the people..."
When did Britain become a republic?


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