Sunday, 15 May 2016
There is no faking democracy
A report form Eurobarometer suggests Brits know less about the EU than anyone else. That to me is a seriously good reason to leave. Without an engaged public you cannot possibly have a functioning democracy. To have a democracy you need a demos, and the lack of engagement in the EU is all the proof you need that there is no such thing. The proof of the pudding is that British culture is still centred around Westminster even though the EU is the supreme government for Europe. No engagement programmes from the centre is ever going to fix that.
Some remark that it would help if the British media covered the EU on a regular basis with accurate factual coverage but that is simply not going to happen.
The problem for our media is that much of what the EU does is hugely issue focussed, requires background expertise and would require actual journalists to make sense of it. Except there is no profit in that kind of journalism. Our newspapers are now more part of the entertainment industry, with Westminster reporting increasingly losing any distinction from any other celebrity gossip. That issue focussed politics is suffering is not just an EU problem.
But then europhiles have no right to complain. Media follows what it perceives to be power, and the EU, in collusion with our own government, has always sought to downplay perceptions that the EU is a government. So what we have is European administration instead of democracy.
This is a problem think tanks have been grappling with for decades. How does one make the EU a democracy. They continue to bark up the wrong tree, thinking the answer lies in the introduction of more voting rituals and raising awareness, but you can't force the public to be interested. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think. And so it must be exasperating for those who do want to reform the EU into a democracy. But the stark fact they cannot face up to is the fact that democracies cannot be artificially created. There must be a common binding that spans all generations and demographics.
The EU had hoped that freedom of movement would mean our young would make transnational connections. This has happened but it's never really going to happen for the Brits. It's mono-directional. The world comes to us. The young in Bulgaria learn English. The young in the UK do not learn Bulgarian. The language barrier is its own obstacle.
It's why I have no real interest in living and working in Europe. What the EU is offering, I and many like me simply don't want. Give us visaless access to Canada and the anglosphere and we might think differently. And is this because we're dismal little Englanders? Not really. There's just no real commercial advantage in learning Bulgarian on Swedish.
As much as the EU wants to be the supreme government of Europe and loved for it, it's a pipedream. What that has no popular demand. You can see it in euro election turnouts that any polls are just an opinion poll on the EU. It's why we end up sending Ukip drongos. The EU is a solution to a problem we don't have and nobody is asking for it. That's why the Remain camp have to scare us to death. There just isn't a persuasive argument that it's a good thing - only that it's difficult to leave.
That, however, is not a good enough reason to stay. Like I say, the problem with voter disconnect is not solely a UK thing. Throughout the public are growing weary with the political stalemate and even if Leave doesn't win the referendum, that discontentment will grow. A remain vote doesn't fix anything, nor is it a vote of confidence in the EU. All it will prove is that fearmongering works. The resentment will not melt away and will only fester until there is real reform.
That is why I'm voting to leave. I'm tired of politics as it is. EU membership means too much of our policy is decided elsewhere and set in stone. Government can no longer respond to change or meet the democratic will. It can't even meet us half way. Brexit is that catalyst. It is a reboot and it will mean sweeping changes to how things get done for the first time on forty years. A vote to remain is to keep a system in tact which needs to reform but won't.
If we want to see real engagement in politics then our politics must be responsive and must transcend dismal administration. To get that, politics must be relevant to the people. The EU never will be which is why even the Brexit debate fails to excite even this close to the referendum. There is no faking democracy and while we may tolerate the absence of it for a little economic security, there will come a time soon where we have need of it again. And when that happens that will spell the end of Britain's experimentation with political integration. Government must always be for the people rather than for the convenience of government. The people will not tolerate it any other way.