Well the great day is nearly upon us and 36 hours later we will know what decision the British people have arrived at . . . or will we?
Whilst the democratic track record of the EU was good in the early days of the Common Market, some would say, it has since become increasingly questionable. I would venture that 40 years on and it has now deteriorated to a point where it is virtually non-existent!
In 1973 the then Prime Minister, Ted Heath, signed us up to membership of the Common Market on the message that ‘closer ties with Europe could only benefit trade’. The year before, Ireland and Denmark had joined but Norway decided not to. Then, there was no fuss but a simple acceptance of the democratic decision of the people.
During those days, support for the Common Market was good, with good connectivity by voters demonstrated in high turnouts ranging from 65% to 87.6% (The latter was Sweden against the Euro). The exception was Greenland who, having joined in 1973, 6 years later rejected membership and in 1984 the country left the communities.
Since those days, we now know that Heath was ‘economical with the truth’ in what he told us about the simple “trading association” with the other members, in the certain knowledge that much wider control was on the agenda with Brussels.
Voter turnout has declined over the years, substantially with some countries like Italy which in 1979 stood at 86.5% and in 2014 managed just 57.2%. All members, new and old have followed a similar pattern of falling turnouts, with the exception of the UK whose (already low) numbers grew slightly from 32.35% to 35.60% over the same timeframe. (Source UK Political Info)
It was not in Europe but in America that the whole process by which democracy functions in this 21st century has been brought into question. We are talking here the re-election of George W Bush in 2004, by a very narrow margin over his opponent John Kerry.
Whilst at the time Kerry played with a straight bat and conceded the election to Bush, a year later the powerful and non-partisan Government Accountability Office confirmed the then ‘conspiracy theories’ that Bush had no right to be in the White House.
Voter fraud had occurred in a number of areas of the process and included mal-functioning voting machines, individual votes were altered to support another candidate and the falsification of election results by uncertified voting system software. The whole event received no mainstream media coverage whatsoever.
What is particularly worrying for me is that the same team that manipulated Bush into power have since been used by our Tory party and may well be behind the dubious results of last year’s election, where just 24% of the electorate provided a majority government which, on those numbers, is not representative of the people over whom they hold sway.
If we now move into Europe, we have had wholesale abuse of the referendum aspects of the EU treaties by Brussels, initially demonstrated by two ‘no’ votes by Ireland to (2002) Nice and (2009) Lisbon Treaty ratification.
These negative votes threatened their required unanimous membership adoptions and went to second referendums to get the results Brussels was seeking. Whilst not fraud in the true sense of the word, after 30 years, pressure was now being put on member states to comply with Brussels dictates.
If we now move on to 2011 we have the first Greek referendum, which asked the Greek people to accept the terms of the Troika for a haircut of debt. This was in direct opposition to what the Troika wanted and Prime Minister George Papandreou acceded to their request by withdrawing the referendum and subsequently resigned.
Just 4 years later and the newly elected Syriza government flew in the face of Troika demands and actually held a referendum for the people to decide on accepting, or not, the bailout terms requiring more ‘austerity’ measures. The people overwhelmingly chose not to accept the terms and this wholly legitimate act of democracy was simply ignored by the lenders, as well as the European Commission.
That all three members of the Troika were themselves unelected, points to their contempt for this democratic process and their application of even more onerous terms upon the new government and its people as a punishment.
In 2016 an unelected European Commission announced it was ignoring the two thirds Dutch majority vote and would be railroading through visa free travel to 45 million Ukrainians.
Brussels has also recently ignored another respected democratic process, when over a million people signed a petition to halt the odious TTIP trade agreement. With the pending referendum, Brussels has not sought favour with the electorate over this issue, by discussing it or even mooting possible amendments. Rather it has simply gone very quiet, suggesting that once the referendum is over negotiations will be resumed with added vigour and continued contempt for the wishes of the people.
More and more political commentators are voicing the opinion that the EU is teetering on the brink of both financial and political collapse because of incompetence and arrogance. America has much to lose if the EU fails, in both trading terms but more importantly as a strategic base for its growing stance against Russia and China.
I also think it significant that Switzerland has, this week, withdrawn its dormant 1992 EU application as, according to one headline, ‘only a “few lunatics” now want to be involved in the bloc’!
Hannes Germann of the Swiss People’s Party compared the symbolic nature of the vote to Iceland’s decision to drop its own application in 2015. “Iceland had the courage to withdraw their application for membership and no volcano erupted,” he joked. Was this directed at the British people . . . who knows but the timing must be significant, in my opinion.
Given the considerable pressure now being placed upon the British people to vote ‘Remain’ by no less than the US President, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Managing Director of the IMF, none of whom have been elected by us and none of whom are British citizens, it is does not take rocket science to work out that a lot is at stake for their particular vested interests.
Given also the narrowness of the vote between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’, just like that of the Bush re-election, let us hope that, in the event of a win for ‘Remain’ we do not hear in a years’ time from our own Electoral Commission that it did not represent the will of the people. Let us also hope that we are not too taken into an illegal war by people we have not elected to power.
We have already given away a lot of our sovereign power to Brussels as an act of trust and I question tonight whether that trust has been honestly repaid over the last four decades.
Whatever the outcome, we will have to take responsibility for our individual actions and therefore can only vote with our conscience, whether it be to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ and I offer you my respect for what we are all facing at this time.
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes