Alphen, Netherlands. 3 February. Democracy was strangled last week in the Mother of Parliaments. By killing the EU Referendum Bill on instruction of their gutless, Machiavellian political masters in the House of Common unelected Labour and Liberal Democrat peers set out with the express mission to thwart the will of the people. This is but the latest example of Europe’s steady retreat from democracy as the will of the people is replaced by ‘we know best’ elitism. The very real and frightening prospect of European autocracy now beckons and the European people must fight it.
The hypocrisy demonstrated by Britain’s not-so-great and not-so-good last week was breath-taking. The whole point of referenda is to put to the people issues of profound constitutional importance that change the relationship between power and the people. Instead, what has taken place in the EU over the last decade has been a massive shift of sovereignty from national parliaments to the unelected Brussels bureaucratic elite. And yet, the people have either been denied a voice or their views simply ignored.
In 2005 the so-called EU Constitution was put to referenda in France, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands and all of them said no. Rather than heed the will of the people the elite simply re-packaged the Constitution as the 2007 Lisbon Treaty and told the people to vote again until they got the answer ‘right’.
Britain did not even get that far. Tony Blair had promised the British people a referendum on the draft Lisbon Treaty. He then promptly broke his word when it became clear the people had profound concerns about handing over so much British sovereignty to Brussels. David Cameron made the same promise and then retreated using the spurious argument that the horse had already bolted by the time he came to power.
The people were correct. Thanks to Lisbon over 50% of all ‘British’ laws are now made beyond the compass of the Mother of Parliaments with the phrase “new European regulations require…” a daily reality. Consequently, Parliament, like so many legislatures of EU member-states is a shadow of its former self with Britain a hollowed-out state that this year could collapse. Turn out at elections is in precipitous decline partly because there is little point voting for politicians who upon being elected tell the people they no longer control borders, security or much else.
The experience of the Netherlands is little different. Thierry Baudet, an academic and commentator, gathered 60,000 signatures which was sufficient to trigger a debate in the Dutch Parliament on a popular vote on Dutch membership of the EU. The Dutch Parliament dismissed the idea of a referendum out of hand.
The irony is that a referendum will indeed take place in Britain this year on Scottish independence. Permitting only 8.3% of the British people to decide the fate of a country of 65 million people that has existed since 1707 is an obscene caricature of democracy. Moreover, having conceded to the Scots the right to referendum the systematic denial of an EU referendum is rank political hypocrisy but then the voice of the English in particular is systematically ignored by Westminster.
The elite trot out the usual nonsense that referenda never answer the question put or are mere comments on this or that government. They suggest the people can in any case express their views via general elections which involve a whole rag-tag of issues. Such assertions reflect utter contempt of the elite for the people.
The irony is that the denial of national democracy could paradoxically strengthen the European Parliament and European federalists. The likelihood is that the current wave of anger with Europe's incompetent leaders will see a huge protest vote in the May elections to the European Parliament. The emergence of a European Parliament that begins to function like a real parliament complete with a loyal opposition challenging the usual motley crew of rubber-stamp European federalists could see Brussels take on the appearance of a Washington or Canberra.
However, the rise of Euro-realism and Euro-scepticism in the European Parliament will reinforce the belief that the only debate that now matters is in Brussels (and absurdly Strasbourg) because that is where power now lies. Holding the EU bureaucracy to account will thus become more important than pointless regard for shrivelled up national parliaments and parliamentarians whose only power it seems is to vote themselves into history and irrelevance.
The problem is that Brussels would only look like Washington or Canberra. If the European Parliament were Europe’s real legislature effective representation of the European citizen would be diluted from the current one deputy for every 50,000 people, to one for every 500,000. Moreover, such are the differences in political culture, language and needs across Europe that the EU bureaucracy would drive a London double-decker bus through parliamentary oversight.
By denying the people a right to a fundamental question on a fundamental issue democracy was strangled last week in London. In Europe it will not be too long before national democracy exists in form only with the once great countries which did do much to spawn freedom in Europe reduced to little more than serf-like enablers of Brussels Law.