Posted by: aboutalbion | June 22, 2016

EU referendum vote (7)

Tomorrow is voting day, and this post will indicate the way I shall vote.

I have found the nature of this prolonged referendum debate disappointing, and my inclinations about voting have not been consistent.

I find both sides have preferred to inhabit fantasy-role play scenes.  A common question on the ‘Leave’ side has been, ”If we were outside the EU, would we vote to join the EU now?”.   On the ‘Remain’ side, the assertion has repeatedly been made that “you will be better off remaining in”, implying a little more pocket money … against a backdrop of the ongoing years of ‘necessary’ austerity measures.

I find that both sides have declined to offer (and to refer to) a political programme for the remainder of this five year Parliament.  This lack of detail about the immediate political future seems to me to affect both sides.  The ‘Leave’ side, manifestly not a united ‘party’ (not even on the type of trade deal to be sought with the EU single market), are asking the electorate to sign a blank cheque.  The ‘Remain’ side, while relying on a vote to maintain ‘business as usual’, seem to me to have missed an opportunity to signal how concerns about immigration will be addressed.

I find that both sides have been unrealistic about the influence of the UK in the world, and about the associated security of the UK (especially for refugees).  As far as I can make out, neither side has mentioned the agency that launched a successful lethal nuclear strike on a UK resident in 2006.  I can’t recall either side referring to the need for a forceful response after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko.

I find that both sides have misrepresented the “control” concept.  I find that both sides have overstated the degree of “control” they would like (or have) because both sides have conveniently forgotten to mention that the UK has a significant national debt to UK government bond holders.  In my understanding of the real world, the behaviour of these bond holders exercises constraints on the degree of “control” exercised through the sovereignty of Parliament.  I find myself in agreement with those who say that the decisive vote of these bond holders will be expressed in the days immediately after the referendum vote closes.

I find that both sides are compromised over the status of the referendum.  Both sides seem to me to want to maintain the supremacy of Parliament, and at the same time to want this referendum result to be “irreversible” and binding on Parliament.  To me, these two desires are not compatible.

In 1978, Lord Hailsham [Lord Chancellor 1979-1987] wrote: “Referenda are of different kinds.  In what circumstances is it to be thought proper to have resort to one?  …  Is the referendum to be taken before, or after legislation has passed Parliament?  Is its effect to be conclusive or only advisory?  …  What subjects are to be referable?  Who may set the machinery in motion?  …  I do not claim to be able to answer these questions.  …  What is strange is that there has been practically no discussion as to how, or in what form, the institution [of a referendum] should be systematized.” [1979 (paperback) The Dilemma of Democracy. London, Collins Fount, p176f.]  To my mind, it is foreseeable that a LEAVE vote will be followed by years of constitutional “civil war” over the status of tomorrow’s UK wide referendum.

For myself, I want to protest about the childish way the two sides have conducted themselves.  Left to just myself, I would abstain from this referendum vote.

However, ‘no man is an island’, and I have children and grandchildren.  Tomorrow, with my immediate descendants very much in mind, I shall vote REMAIN in order to avoid the foreseeable “civil war” which the alternative outcome is likely to entail.  But I also wish my vote to be advisory to (and not binding on) Parliament because I do not wish to dilute the sovereignty of Parliament.

And, finally, in voting to stay in the EU tomorrow, I would like my vote to be understood as a vote to stay in the EU until the either France or Germany leaves the EU.  When either of those countries leaves, then that will be the appropriate time for the UK to leave as well.

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