Tuesday 16 December 2008

Time to take a stand against elitism

Another week, another voting scandal. Yet again people foolishly imagined they were being invited to make a democratic choice, then found that they had been conned into casting meaningless votes because only the views of the so-called experts actually counted.

In the case of Strictly Come Dancing, the internet is abuzz with suggestions that the judges might have engineered Saturday night’s debacle as their revenge on the public for backing John Sergeant in previous rounds, in defiance of their instructions.

At least there is no need to waste time dreaming up conspiracy theories in Ireland. Anyone there who believed that voters’ rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum earlier this year would kill the project stone dead, as legally it should have done, would have had to be even more stupid than the stereotypical characters in those jokes we are no longer allowed to tell.

To absolutely no-one’s astonishment, the Irish people are to be required to vote again, after some small amendments to soothe their feelings. Just as the voters of Denmark were made to reconsider after they rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

Only the Dutch and French votes against the European Constitution in 2005 caused the juggernaut to brake, and then only until its drivers had the brainwave of smuggling 99% of the Constitution into an unreadable Treaty with a different name, which would not require a second vote. Brilliant.

What else would you expect, when the founding assumption of the whole European project is that the people of the continent cannot be trusted to govern themselves?

The same cast of mind was all too evident in EU Commission Predident Barosso’s recent claim that “the people who matter in Britain” are warming towards membership of the euro. A move that should certainly become psychologically easier as the brilliant economic management of our world-saving Prime Minister and his Treasury satrap leads the pound to dive to parity with the euro, and quite possibly below.

The person who matters most in Britain today, Lord Mandelson, is certainly a long-term enthusiast for the euro. As for Gordon Brown, it has never been clear whether he is a genuine sceptic or was simply determined to obstruct Tony Blair’s strange desire to go to down in history as the man who abolished the pound and, with it, our last vestiges of national independence: a sort of counter-Churchill.

The reckoning is that mounting panic about the economy will make the voters of Ireland more compliant next year, and there will surely never be a better time to ask the British electorate to sign themselves over to Brussels than when millions of us are staring personal financial ruin in the face. Always assuming that a convenient loophole cannot be found that would permit euro membership without a referendum: making it a general election issue, perhaps?

From unitary councils to the naming of Blue Peter cats, the will of the people counts for nothing. Is there anyone out there who believes that they will be able to drive into Manchester in ten years’ time without paying some sort of congestion charge, despite the overwhelming vote against one last week? It is as likely as John Sergeant winning a beauty contest, let alone a dancing competition.

We are governed by an elite that treats our views with contempt, even as they insult our intelligence by preaching against elitism. Understandably, we return the compliment by increasingly tuning out of politics and ignoring elections. Just remember that this gives them an even freer hand. Their reckoning is that the most we will do is grumble in the columns of our newspapers or in our smokeless pubs. Perhaps they are right, but I long for the day when we have the courage to stand up to them en masse and declare that we have had enough.


Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

CC said...

So much for "escaping" to Europe from the mess we have on this side of the pond.
Enjoying your blog nevertheless.