I’m not a Tory; I don’t agree with their economic policies, social policies; hell I’d be hard pushed to find anything that I’d agree with them on. But in the past the occasional Tory government did at least have some basic level of competency – it was not just an endless serious of shambolic decisions and U-turns.
Just take a look at this (which is just one week).
Now I’m not opposed to U-turns – if you make a mistake, staying with that mistake because to make a U-turn makes you look bad, is the worst thing you can do. But too many U-turns is a sign of something far more serious – too many mistakes.
Yes I know it’s all too easy to blame everything on Brexit, but sometimes it might just be true. I have a sneaking suspicion that any Tory with half a brain is in hiding until the chaos is over – whatever you think of their policies it is usual for at least some of the government to be smart, but the current government seems completely devoid of any clue.
It makes sense from their point of view – it would be better to have driven a stake through the heart of the Brexit concept, but without that option it is best to stay out of the limelight and look to picking up the pieces afterwards.
You probably will not be surprised that I do not agree with the hypothesis that blocking Brexit is “undemocratic”. Twitter trolls are rampantly gaslighting anything that looks like it supports blocking Brexit by accusing anything that criticises the current Brexit process as undemocratic.
In the referendum, I voted remain but would be quite content to see Brexit under the deal that was promised by the Leave campaigners. I would still oppose it and immediately it was complete would be campaigning to re-join the EU.
But we don’t have a deal that resembles what was promised (the fact it was an unrealistic promise is irrelevant); the EU has declared a deal looks to be impossible and there are reasonable suspicions that the government is angling for a no-deal Brexit.
Which is not what was promised.
And according to the government’s own realistic (not worst-case) scenario of what would happen with a no-deal Bexit, would include significant economic disruption, shortages of food, medicine and other essentials, and possibly rioting in the streets.
The referendum was legally an advisory result which means that it can be ignored by Parliament according to our democratic constitution. And yet Parliament is not ignoring the result – it is insisting that the government makes a deal that Parliament approves of, or seeks an extension – neither blocks Brexit.
And here is so much that was dodgy about the referendum that if it were binding, it may well have been overturned by the courts :-
Collectively the leavers exceeded the spending limits sufficiently to collect in the region of £300,000 in fines. That inevitably had an effect on the result – campaigners wouldn’t spend money if it wasn’t effective.
Numerous reports have emerged indicating the Russian interference with the referendum.
Leaver lies. The trolls would have you believe that the remainers also lied, but I have yet to see anything credible that would lead me to agree. And even if they did, lies invalidate the result.
Recent opinion polls show a clear (if narrow) majority in favour of remaining within the EU :-
If you are going to say that ignoring the referendum result is undemocratic, then I’m going to say that ignoring the will of the people today is undemocratic.
And finally, to repeat myself, Parliament is not blocking Brexit. It is instead requiring that Boris the Bodger produces a deal with the EU that Parliament can approve of, or that he seeks an extension; the only people suggesting revoking article 50 (without another referendum) are the Liberals after an election.
There are those (amongst the lunatic fringe of the Bexiteers – see this) who believe that the Supreme Court decision this week on Boris the Bodger proroguing parliament was an anti-Brexit move and undemocratic.
Nothing could be further than the truth; indeed it is possibly more important than Brexit. To quite from the Supreme Court summary of the judgement :-
It is important, once again, to emphasise that these cases are not about when and on what terms the United Kingdom is to leave the European Union …
It was about the so-called “unwritten” constitution (which is actually far too many bit of paper all over the place), and ensuring that Britain’s governance (not government) was in accordance with constitutional law.
Britain’s governance consists of three parts :-
The executive (the Prime Minister and the government they appoint) who is appointed by Parliament.
Parliament (the only part of governance that is democratically elected) which creates legislation and supervises the executive.
Finally the Judiciary (and the Supreme Court) that judges whether actions are legal, illegal, or unlawful.
The Supreme Court by declaring that the proroguing of parliament was unlawful, decided that the purpose of proroguing parliament was for the government to make Brexit arrangements without the supervision of parliament. Brexit can and must be delivered with Parliament’s blessing – anything else is undemocratic.
But more importantly, this was about a prime minister ignoring the will of parliament and using an instrument of state in a way that was never intended. This was effectively an attempt at dictatorship.
So in the end the Supreme Court decision was not about stopping Brexit but stopping a dictatorship now (which admittedly would have been a particularly limited dictatorship) and in the future.
Today Boris the Bodger called the privy council up to prorogue parliament to stop those ever so inconvenient representatives of the people from causing more trouble for his agenda. There are those who go so far as to call this a cout d’état – not entirely unreasonably although it is probably legal.
There are those who are disappointed that the Queen agreed to the proroguing of parliament, but why should she? Disregarding the ‘advice’ of the Prime Minister would go against what she has spent her entire reign doing – being a symbolic head of state in a parliamentary democracy.
Because it’s a lifetime ago, it is all too easy to forget that the Queen ascended the throne with the monarchy in crisis – her uncle had abdicated in 1936 and her father reigned for a relatively short time. She has spent her long reign rebuilding trust in the monarchy.
There are those who will say what happened was not democratic (and I’m inclined to agree with them) but the Queen can quite reasonably point out that she acted in a democratic way – she assented to the request of the Prime Minister elected by parliament.
If anything undemocratic went on, it was done by Boris the Bodger, and parliament has a duty to take care of that.
Back when the Brexit referendum result was announced, I (as a remainer) was reasonably content that we should have Brexit – and then start campaigning to rejoin the EU. But things have changed.
What has not changed (but is still worth reminding ourselves) is that the margin of victory was very narrow – the Leavers like to claim there is a clear mandate for leaving the EU. A mandate yes, but any referendum that is won by such a narrow margin is not exactly a “clear mandate”.
And it has become clear that the referendum campaigns were conducted in a way that was probably in violation of UK law – questionable funding sources, connections to some very dubious US ‘politicians’ and of course the Russian connection.
Various credible sources have indicated that Russian social media trollbots were very active during the lead up to the referendum.
Does this invalidate the referendum result? It would not be totally unreasonable to argue that it does – whilst disregarding the referendum could well be regarded as undemocratic, the level of interference in the referendum is also undemocratic.
But rather than concentrating on that, let us take a look at “no deal”. The referendum was not asking whether we should crash out of the EU with no deal; the implication was always that there would be some sort of deal to our benefit (although why the EU should agree to a deal favourable to the UK was always a bit questionable).
So all those who voted for Brexit were not necessarily voting for “Brexit under all circumstances”; they were voting for a Brexit with a beneficial deal. In these circumstances, it is more democratic to cancel Article 50 if no deal is possible – only extremists want a “no deal” Brexit.
Because that was the choice in the referendum – remain, or to leave with a decent deal – because all the leave campaigners were saying we would get a good deal.