Democracy Or Efficiency: Your Choice

Both of the established “leave” campaigns are so far doing far more harm than good. Neither the Toryboy money obsession of ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’ nor the UKIP-like immigration fixation of ‘Leave.EU’ address the central concern of those campaigning for the “leave” outcome in the coming referendum—namely: Who governs Britain?

Should supranational EU institutions have the power to compel the United Kingdom government to act against the wishes of the British people or should the British electorate have the power to vote for representatives who are able to hold the government to account in Parliament? Simple.

Furthermore, the binary choice between “leave” and “remain” is perfectly clear, yet the legacy media seem determined to distort these straightforward propositions. First, there was a wholly misleading front page splash about Article 50 in the Independent on Sunday. Then there were a cavalcade of opinion pieces declaring that Britain should vote “leave” in order to “remain” in a “reformed EU”. Perhaps not coincidentally this is also the view of ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’ CEO, Matthew Elliott, and leader of ‘Conservatives for Britain’, Lord Lawson.

Whether the legacy hacks are aware of it or not—I suspect that most of them are merely blundering about in the undergrowth searching desperately for something “original” to say—this is laying the groundwork for Cameron’s offer of “associate membership”, trailed in The Fundamental Law of the European Union.

To be clear, associate membership—or whatever Cameron ends up calling his package of “reforms”—is “second-class membership” in a two-tier EU which would leave Britain isolated—unable to affect meaningful decisions taken by Kerneuropa (the ‘inner core’) without first joining the euro—and still without full self-representation on the world governing bodies, such as UNECE, the OIE, the IPPC, Codex, etc., that agree global trading standards.

In an interesting exchange, Pete North elicited the following statement from europhile commentator Jon Worth: “You either have quicker decisions (QMV), or states hold vetoes (slow). Latter not efficient”. Pete North disputes whether supranational EU decision-making, based upon Qualified Majority Voting (QMV), is in fact more efficient than intergovernmental agreement at a global level, with each state holding a national veto, but, putting that argument to one side for a moment, I think the dichotomy Worth proposes deserves further clarification.

Which would the British people prefer: faster EU decision-making allowing supranational EU institutions to compel nation-states to act against their best wishes or slower intergovernmental decision-making which ensures that parliamentarians are accountable to their electors?

This may just be what Dr Richard North calls the schwerpunkt of the referendum debate. Should Britain accept second-class membership in a supranational treaty union that does not value our membership for anything other than the money we contribute or should Britain have full self-representation on the global bodies where international regulations are negotiated and agreed, with parliamentary oversight and a national veto to ensure that the interests of the British electorate are properly protected?

One thought on “Democracy Or Efficiency: Your Choice

  1. I totally agree with this. I, too, am motivated primarily because of my concerns about sovereignty. Government should rightly exist at the level(s) where people feel a sense of connection and community – this is why we have town councils and a national government in Westminster. It is the underpinning of the nation state. There is no agreed sense of “European-ness”, and the EU is nothing more than the attempt to add an extra layer of government, superior to national parliaments, where there is no corresponding sense of community.

    However, I am coming to realise that people like us are in the minority. Rightly or wrongly (ok, wrongly), most people aren’t that motivated by the dry academic discussion of sovereignty, even though it is fundamental to all of our freedoms and our democracy. They care about “pocket-book” issues first and foremost. I have no love for either “Vote Leave” or “Leave.EU”, and particularly the motivations of some of the founders and chief funders. But they are not entirely wrong to focus on money and immigration – these issues arouse strong feelings in people, and drive them to the polling booth.

    Much like Dr. North, I want to see British sovereignty restored and the nation state re-invigorated. As per the Harrogate Agenda, I also believe we urgently need a constitutional convention to determine how we govern ourselves once we leave the EU. But I just don’t think that talking about these things to most people – much as they motivate me – will win many hearts and minds. I would love to be proven wrong.


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