Never in the fields of ingenuity – and marketing resources – have so many people been so deluded by the prospect of this season’s must-have item: ‘independence’ from the EU.
Forget arguments about economics which cannot be proved either way until events transpire to overwhelm us. Forget arguments about immigration/ control of our borders/ racism. Having continued access to the single market promised by the Leave campaign requires agreement to the free movement of people (ask Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein). One argument that has resounded again and again and has never been analysed in any depth is the idea that voters in the UK can ‘take back control of their government’.
Let’s break down what we mean by government here in the UK.
First, the government in Westminster is called ‘HM Government’ which means ‘Her Majesty‘s Government’.
Second, though Lizzie Windsor has always maintained – in public, at least – a politically neutral position, she retains the power to dissolve parliament. Remember that the UK is a constitutional monarchy (albeit one without a written constitution). These vague powers also require that her First Minister of the Treasury (or, what you oiks call a Prime Minister) attend on Lizzie to give her a regular update on the business of her parliament.
Third, just because HM Government has debated and voted on what items should be made into law, those bits of legislation don’t reach the statute and become law until Lizzie Windsor signs them off. Every odious bit of rank bullshit passed by HM Government in the last six years – including the additional taxing of bedrooms required by disabled people for medical equipment/ live-in carers etc – has been signed into law by Lizzie. And don’t say she can’t refuse because on at least one occasion – The Local Government etc Act (Scotland) 1973 – she has. (Thank you Fife Regional Council for digging your heels in on that bit of needless meddling by Westminster).
Fourth, the monarchy is not the only unelected, antidemocratic force in the UK, whether in or out of the EU, at this time. The House of Lords. That’s 800 gallows needed right there. A mixture of tax-dodging political donors and former MPs thrown out of office by voters who wanted someone to better represent them in the lower House of Commons. Only the Chinese government has more uneelected bums on seats making laws.
Fifth, the presence of unelected Parliamentary Agents in the House of Commons. There are at least five appointees with the power to order your elected MP out of the chamber. You can’t get rid of these people who variously represent the monarchy, The Corporation of the City of London and others.
Sixth, and perhaps not least. Before we were members of the EU, everyone was a ‘subject of the Crown’. In effect, you, your family, your possessions, your right to fair representation in the courts and so on, were at the discretion of the monarch, which is to say that you were property, a slave in effect if not in so many words. Today, you are a citizen of the EU. A citizen is one who takes part in the process of selecting governments and in other civil acts. If, after today, you are not a citizen of the EU, you are demanding the right to once again wear the shackles that previous generations fought so hard to be rid of (and that, Jeremy Corbyn, is the argument which as Leader of The Labour Party you should have been making). Even if you like Lizzie Windsor and willingly refer to her as your queen*, do you trust the people advising her?
For all its apparent complexity, the EU works on simple basis. The EU Commission proposes laws to national governments. Those elected governments then debate between them what should be considered for legislation. This proposed legislation is then put to the EU Parliament where MEPs elected by you then debate the merits of these proposals before voting on them. There are 50 thousand bureaucrats for the whole of the EU (of which a third are translators making sure that the laws are properly codified and stated for all 28 member states). There are ten times that many bureaucrats for the UK alone.
If you think the EU is anti-democratic or unrepresentational then perhaps the problem – and the solution to that perceived problem – is closer to home. It might be a different referendum from two years ago but the same issues remains in contest: who should lead us?
Remember that when you vote today.
(* I’ll call her ‘queen’, ‘Your Highness’ or whatever when I get a chance to vote on who should be my Head of State… which kind of defeats the point.)