EUROPE DEBATE: Lack of democracy is UK problem, not EU

European and British flags.
European and British flags.

In the absence of any rational arguments, the Brexit campaign is trying to turn this referendum into an irrational ‘heart over head’ argument.

‘We’ll show those foreigners and the establishment by cutting off our own noses’. Or ‘we don’t want them telling us what to do’. The fact is that it is Whitehall, not Brussels which tells us what to do. EU regulations are more fiercely imposed and often ‘gold-plated’ by the UK Government, compared to other member states. The two greatest-ever catastrophes for our rural economy, mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease, were entirely caused by regulatory failures in London, not Brussels.

One criticism of Continental member-states is that they are too bureaucratic. That is largely because they have two or three additional layers of government which give local communities real democratic control over their lives.

The major damage to democracy in the UK has been caused by our own Government. Those who rant at Brussels conveniently forget the losses to our local democracy and the emasculation of local authorities through the squeezing of funding by Westminster and the removal of many of their responsibilities and powers. The failings of cash-strapped local government are criticised by the cynical Westminster politicians responsible for slashing their funding. You only need to read the Gazette to observe our failed democracy as local communities struggle against often-feudalistic, speculative developments imposed by diktat from Whitehall – not County Hall or Brussels.

In this London-dominated society, it is no surprise that 20 times as much is spent on government-funded infrastructure projects per head of population in the capital as in the North East.

Should Westminster really have such total, unchallenged power over the British people without local or European input? We have lost district councils, leaving only an impoverished, weakened county council, and now we risk losing the chance to elect our MEP. Should our ‘democracy’ really be reduced to a five-yearly vote for a Westminster MP? The appalling example of our own MP switching to an extremist Brexit position immediately after her election, despite her manifesto showing no hint of her true intentions, highlights the danger such people can pose for democracy.

It is no surprise that the charge out of Europe is led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who are both journalists. The Brexit campaign would be nowhere without the right-wing media and its tax-avoiding paymasters in Monte Carlo, Los Angeles and the Channel Islands. Is it really better to have this handful of sinister, self-serving aliens dictating policy than democratically electing MEPs? This referendum has been labelled ‘post-truth politics’. Intelligent, reasoned debate is terrifyingly swept aside. While Cameron and Osborne have made some silly statements, the Brexiters simply don’t understand the meaning of ‘the truth’. They persist with their dishonest claim that ‘we’ pay £350million per week to Brussels. The UK is an economy slightly smaller than France and a bit bigger than Italy, so our real contribution of £115million lies where it should be, right between theirs. Poorer regions of the UK, France and Italy receive EU support, while the remaining net one per cent of public spending from our wealthier economies goes to support the poorer member states recovering from dictatorships like the Soviet Union.

Research clearly shows that those most likely to vote for Brexit are not the young, the well-educated or the well-off, but older men who are already struggling in lower-paid jobs. They are being maliciously deceived by billionaire media owners and the likes of Boris (who is paid £250,000 per year for a weekly newspaper column) into believing that their problems are caused by immigrants ‘stealing their jobs’, rather than by the extremist ‘free market’ ideology of the Brexiters which has seen millions of skilled British jobs sent abroad, just as they have in America.

The American experience is the same as the UK’s. Average real earnings have not increased for decades, leaving working families struggling with debt. In contrast, the richest one per cent have seen their wealth soar. Like the Brexiters, billionaire Donald Trump misleads voters by blaming Mexican immigrants rather than the economic dogma which has intentionally concentrated wealth into the hands of his own kind. In the UK, multi-millionaire Brexit-backers like Arron Banks, who wants to privatise the NHS, and Peter Hargreaves, who is happy that a Brexit-induced recession would give working British people a ‘wake-up call’, are weirdly claimed to be on the side of those people!

According to the world’s economists and every international financial body, this mean, cynical encouragement to vote leave will cause serious damage to ordinary British livelihoods. Of course, their shadowy puppet-masters will ensure that Johnson and Gove remain extremely well-off, whatever the outcome of their shameful, dishonest propaganda.