Abandon Brexit? Be prepared to embrace plutocracy

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A recent YouGov poll asked the question, “How would you feel if Brexit didn’t happen?” Respondents were allowed to choose up to three options ranging from “Betrayed” or “Angry” to “Delighted” or “Relieved”.

As expected, the most common response among Remainers was “Relieved” with the majority of Leavers saying they would feel “Betrayed”.

What caught my eye, though, was the number of Remainers who admitted that they would feel either betrayed (3%), angry (4%) or disappointed (6%) if it didn’t happen.   In other words, despite the fact that they voted to remain in the EU, they would not wish to see the government renege on its promise to implement the result of the referendum.

Personally, the very fact that this question is even being asked, makes me feel betrayed, angry and, despite it not being an option on the poll, fearful for the future of our democracy. For while it is heartening to see that a small number of Remainers recognise the fact that having a government that does what its electorate asks it to, is more important than seeing their own personal wishes implemented, the fact that the option of not implementing the Brexit result is even being discussed, should alarm everybody who genuinely believes that Britain is a democratic country.

Make no mistake – if Brexit doesn’t happen this will not only be the biggest betrayal by the UK government of its citizens and its democratic mandate, that I have known in my lifetime. It will also be a clear signal that our democracy is a sham, that our nation truly is a plutocracy in which the rich and powerful minority are able to exert their will over the majority in all matters.

Think I’m being hysterical? Consider the fact that the vote for Brexit was not only won via an absolute majority of votes (52% to 48%) but that, had the votes been counted in the way they usually are in a general election, i.e. on a constituency basis, the ratio of Leave to Remain votes would have been 69% Leave vs 31% Remain.

If the UK parliament can fail to implement a decision that was endorsed by 69% of constituencies, and 52% of all citizens, and doesn’t find itself overturned by popular uprising as a result, then why should it not take that as a clear message that all future general election results can be ignored?

Fast-forward to the 2022 General Election. Maybe Theresa May has managed to cling on to power. Maybe she’s been replaced by Boris Johnson, or Jacob Rees-Mogg, or David Davis, or, God forbid, Philip Hammond. Either way, unless something pretty drastic has happened in terms of Tory party policy in the intervening years, chances are they are even less popular than they are right now. Let’s now assume that the Labour Party, still led by Jeremy Corbyn, still making promises in opposition that he knows he can’t possibly keep, manages to secure a majority of seats in Parliament.

Oh, the celebrations among idealistic Corbynistas! I can just see it now – the street parties, the victory speeches, the chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” throughout the streets of Islington. Corbyn himself going to meet the Queen and agonising over whether or not to bow when he does so.

And then the crushing disappointment and aghast disbelief, as moderate Labour MPs join forces with Conservative MPs to hold an immediate vote of no-confidence in the new Prime Minister, and replace him with a more Blairite alternative. Not Blair himself, obviously – that really would be a step too far, and would be illegal given Blair is no longer an MP – but somebody who could be trusted to toe the centre-left line that the UK parliament has been treading for so many years.

“Centre-left?” – you cry. “Don’t be ridiculous – those right-wing Tory bastards have been in power for the past 7 years – we dream of centre-left policies!”

Well yes, notionally the Tories are in power, but they’re not really, are they?   You only have to look at how left-wing all our public institutions are, to see who really runs the country. Schools, universities, the police service, social services, our national broadcaster – all are rabidly left-wing. Capitalism is evil, diversity is all-important and anything that could even vaguely be considered hate speech is to be rooted out and destroyed – these are the principles that drive our public services. In the meantime, government policy is dictated to by think-tanks and lobbyists dedicated to special interests – and funded by the rich and powerful.  No wonder the country is so divided.

There is no question that the logistics of leaving the EU will not be easy, and that the process will take time. Negotiating trade deals with the EU and with non-EU countries, and agreeing which European institutions we wish to remain part of and which we wish to leave, are not processes that can happen overnight, nor should they be rushed. But the referendum to decide whether or not Britain wished to remain part of the EU, was legal, and those who voted, did so in good faith that their vote would be counted. The voting papers explicitly stated that the government would implement the decision of the British people.   For the government to even suggest that the decision should not be implemented, either on the grounds that it is too difficult, or too risky to the economy, or simply “the wrong decision”, would amount to a betrayal of our democratic process the likes of which we have never before seen.

Our current democratic process is shaky at best. The extent to which public policy is decided by those lobbying on behalf of the rich and powerful, should not be underestimated. Whether or not our government implements Brexit, will be the litmus test – it is absolutely clear that the rich and powerful are lining up to defeat Brexit, and if they are allowed to do so, there can no longer be any illusion about who really runs the country. So while Remainers may cheer at getting their way on continued EU membership, their cheers will turn to bitter disappointment at realising just how little influence they have over how their country is governed. The day that Brexit is defeated will be the day any illusion of living in a democracy dies.

 

 

 

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23 Responses to Abandon Brexit? Be prepared to embrace plutocracy

  1. Andrew Clayton says:

    Saying 69% of constituencies wanted to leave is just manipulation. I would counter that less than 30% of the electorate opted fir the leave option so it hardly counts as a ringing endorsement, or even a majority. Usually when major upheavals are voted on a simple majority is not considered enough. In many ways the referendum fell short of a mandate for the upset it is causing.

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  2. This is complete hogwash and relies on the assumption that the electorate is stupid.
    The fundamental problem is of trying to impose binary answers onto non-binary situations.
    The fact that the referendum asked a binary question is of little relevance because it was or s the wrong question.
    The right question is what does the electorate want? But the answer to that is very complex.
    The solution is to Rumsfold: divide the problem into known knowns and known unknowns: what so we know we know, and what do we know that we don’t know.
    We know that the referendum asked a simple question.
    We also know that the referendum was advisory.
    Some have argued that it was not advisory because the government promised faithfully that the result would be enacted.
    If the government can be trusted to always keep its promises then that argument holds.

    The government are trying to hold that line: “We promised to enact the result, we always keep our promises so we will enact the result.”

    That is a binary statement: either it is true or it is not. If it is true, then Brexit happens.

    Else we have to consider what else we know…
    We know that the electorate knew what it was voting for. We know therefore that it knew that the referendum was advisory.

    If the referendum was advisory then parliament must give the advice due consideration alongside everything else that it knows and then do what it thinks best.
    And Parliament was very clear that it though it best to remain in the EU.

    That is what the issue boils down to: either we trust the government to always keep its promises or we trust parliament to do what it thinks best.
    Do we let the government claim that trust or do we force them to admit that they cannot be trusted?

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  3. Tom says:

    Your whole premise that the referendum was a democratic exercise is erroneous. If you believe that it was democratic, you need to reach this article: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

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    • ilikewords23 says:

      Ah yes, the big data story – seen it before, as well as various follow-ups. All very interesting and I won’t try to trivialise it in any way but it in no way means that the referendum was not democratic. People are only ever susceptible to influence by information that is relevant to them, that confirms their pre-existing beliefs or that is sufficiently compelling to get them to alter an already existing belief. Just look at all the Corbynistas who simply don’t care about all the overwhelming evidence coming out of Venezuela that socialism is a disaster. You can bombard them with as much information as you like – they will flat-out ignore it; whereas those of us who already know what a disaster socialism is, will madly share every story we come across in the vain hope that we’ll change the minds of those who think it’s great.

      The fact that we are now all at risk of having our opinions and voting decisions influenced by nefarious companies via social media, rather than simply via traditional campaign messages and the mainstream media, in no way changes the fact that each person still voted based on their individual beliefs. And if you honestly think that it was only the Leave campaign that exploited data analytics to target their messaging at individuals who would be susceptible, and that the Remain campaign didn’t do the same then you really are falling for the Guardian’s “big spin”.

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      • What makes the referendum undemocratic is the lying about the nature of it.
        It was sold as an advisory referendum and switched for a binding one without notice or authority.

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      • ilikewords23 says:

        Now you’re just making stuff up. The ballot paper clearly stated that the government would implement the decision taken by the referendum. All the campaigning made that point clear. If you were under any illusion that the referendum was purely advisory then you clearly were not paying attention.

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    • It said nothing of the sort on the ballot paper and the government propaganda and promises on the subject should be taken in the same way that government promises are normally taken.
      What is very clear on the subject, and not only clear but legally and constitutionally binding is the passage of the European Union Referendum Act 2015 through Parliament where MP’s voted overwhelmingly for a referendum that was emphatically advisory.

      If you want to put forward the argument that you and the majority of the electorate are too stupid to understand how these things work then you are welcome to make the case, but the point is covered in more detail in my other post here.

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      • ilikewords23 says:

        I stand corrected; it wasn’t the ballot paper, it was the government-produced leaflet that was sent out early on in the campaign, in which it stated “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide”. So at no point was it considered “advisory”.

        Please note I allow comments on my blog because I do enjoy having my ideas challenged and I wish to encourage debate. But if you are unable to put across your arguments without resorting to insults then your comments will be removed and you will be prevented from commenting further.

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  4. Richard says:

    Margaret Thatcher told us that a referendum is the device of dictators and demagogues. This whole nasty, pointless and damaging affair could have been avoided in so many ways. For starters the threshold should have been set more realistically, such as a clear majority of 60% in favour of change. I don’t care how you manipulate or massage the figures (using constituencies to try and prove a point is just silly, referenda are not operated like that!) the the basic fact is that the result was pretty much 50/50. Totally not clear, and certainly not good enough reason to destroy the country and split the nation in an exercise that was basically intended to resolve an internal Tory conflict. Stupid, stupid in the extreme.

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  5. You should read it again more carefully because there is no insult there, but you appear to be asserting that the majority of the electorate (and yourself included) did not understand the voting process, specifically that the referendum was advisory.

    It is true that there was government propaganda making a promise to abide by the result, and I am sorry if you find it insulting, but in this day and age, you really do have to be stupid to believe everything that the government tells you.

    As I covered at length in the other post, it is precisely that point upon which the whole issue turns: if we trust the government implicitly then we can take them at their word and hold the referendum as binding, but unless we do then we cannot: we must hold the referendum as advisory and we should credit the electorate with the intelligence to know that.

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    • ilikewords23 says:

      I think you just argued my point for me. The whole point of my blog is that if we can’t trust the government to implement the result of the referendum – which was not at any stage sold as advisory – then equally we can’t trust them to respect the result of any future general election. You can’t have it both ways – either you believe in democracy and trust that the government does, too, or you embrace the idea of living under a plutocratic leadership.

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  6. It was not sold as a clusterfuck but there is no question that it was one. Likewise there is no question that the referendum was advisory. If you doubt that then you need look no further than the Supreme Court Judgment in the Miller case: it was unequivocal on the point.
    You can argue that you did not know that, that you accept the government’s supremacy over parliament, but that is fundamentally undemocratic: parliament must be supreme.

    Your argument also fails on the simple fact that we *cannot* trust the government to keep its election promises, we can only ever hope that it does its very best to try.

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  7. You have been very helpful in refining the argument: I think we have it nailed.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Are you really going to let me have the last word here?
    I am sincerely disappointed. 😦

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    • ilikewords23 says:

      Well your insistence that the referendum was advisory despite all evidence to the contrary, convinced me that any attempts to change your mind would be a waste of time. So yes, you can consider yourself to have had the last word.

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  9. KT Parker says:

    Had the vote been run on a constituency basis, voter behaviour would likely have been different. Comparing an all-country vote to a constituency vote is like comparing a journey in a plane to a journey on a bicycle. Both journeys, but completely different experiences. A spurious comparison.

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    • ilikewords23 says:

      Are you seriously suggesting voters would have voted differently if the vote had been on a constituency basis? Do you honestly believe people who voted leave, would have voted remain instead, or vice versa? On what basis are you making that assumption?

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  10. You like words. Here are two. Advisory Referendum.
    In our Parliamentary Democracy, the decisions are made by MPs voting after a debate.
    In this case, they have been repeatedly prevented from doing that.

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