To Brexit or not to Brexit? The referendum on whether Britain should remain a part of the EU or should leave is just over 3 months away. Campaigning is getting into full swing, with the rhetoric ramping up on both sides. Unfortunately it is all doom and gloom stuff. Both sides are trying to scare the electorate to their point-of-view and putting very little forward to enable the voter to reach a carefully considered decision.
Alas, this is understandable. We are dealing with future-shaping issues and so both sides are campaigning based on the future as they see it. And the only thing we know about the future is that it rarely, if ever, turns out as we predict. Inevitably this means both sides will be proved wrong. Any decision reached will have both positive and negative consequences. Most will only be recognised after the event. So how do ensure that we reach a decision that will ensure the best future? As I see it, you can only do this by going back to principles and trying to ensure things are done according to the highest principles.
If only this had been done in the past we might not now be facing this existential crisis.
I say this because it seems that the EU has evolved through deceit. What started out as the “Common Market”, went on to become the EEC and then the EU. At each stage there has been “scope creep” with it becoming increasingly political and less democratic. More and more countries were added by bureaucrats with no voter approval. This has inevitably resulted in the kind of resentment that is fuelling the Brexit supporters.
The original intention of a common market is still evident in Free Trade initiatives being put forward today. This is further evidenced in TTIP and proposals to make corporate rights supreme, with precedence over national powers and supreme courts. This is why so many people on the left are finding themselves in a strange alliance with the extreme right. It also explains why, by-and-large, big business wants to stay in. It also calls into question just how powerful the human rights legislation lauded by proponents of the EU really is. What will happen when the two come into conflict?.
A further consequence is the extent to which we have given up key rights. “Regaining sovereignty” is a key issue for those championing Brexit. Yet yet their opponents claim it will make little or no difference. If they are right, it seems that many are fighting a battle that was lost a long time ago. In which case the whole referendum is little more than a dangerous sop.
The sovereignty issue is nevertheless a critical fault line. The crux of the issue, however, is whether there is any place for the national state. Could it be an historical anomaly unique to the 20th Century? Whether you agree or not, that is a question that needs to be asked and the subject debated. Certainly the global economy and the concomitant need for global action is creating a need for greater central power. The EU is testament to that and probably a reflection of it. Paradoxically this has also resulted in greater national identity, manifested by demands for independence from people such as the Catalans and Scots.
In this context, perhaps the EU does represent the future. If it does, however, these issues need to be brought into the open and discussed, rationalised and then debated. Even its protagonists admit that Europe isn’t working effectively. It is hardly surprising when you have 28 different countries all looking after their own national interests. This is precisely why there is such reluctance to bring this subject up. Yet there are valid questions about the EU’s ability to survive much longer in its current form, with fears that Brexit will make its demise even more likely.
All this makes Brexit an important issue. This is why the debate needs to be predicated on principle rather than passion. Only then can new ideas and solutions be put forward. Unfortunately, the stable door was shut on that possibility a long time ago, making this debate misdirected, too localised and too political to address core problems. Even if the campaigning was more positive, it would still only deal in hope rather than fear. Neither forms a good basis for decisions about the future. This makes the referendum a very dangerous exercise in futility, and one that may have very little long-term benefit for anyone, whatever the outcome.
Please get hold of my book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped read my ideas as to how we could change our economic systems and promote discussion and debate around them so that we can restore democracy and safeguard a better future for future generations.