In early March I was delighted to host a guest blog post on the subject of the EU Referendum debate by Alison Rowland. In her piece, Alison pointed out that even then the debate was being framed around the issue of sovereignty without any real content or substance to the argument. Two months later and, if anything, the level of debate has reached new depths of depressing inanity and danger in its level of superficiality. There has been no advance on the problem highlighted by Alison where people seeking answers and guidance on fundamental issues are met with politicians throwing around comments on Hitler, engaging in power games and trading personal insults.
Both sides are guilty of this approach. For the Brexiters the very autocratic power they claim to be wielded by Brussels also operates in the UK – an unaccountable monarchy system, the Privy Council and Royal Prerogative for a start. It appears they want power for the few with little accountability or control over the exercise of that power by citizens. We need to know the nature of this supposed recovery of sovereignty, how it is to be exercised and for whose benefit. Furthermore we are presented with no plans for filling the gaps in workers’ rights, LGBT rights etc.
Listening to the Remain campaign is similarly infuriating. Depending on the European Union for rights presents an equal danger. The argument that we are dependant on a benign EU for protection of citizens is not something with which we should be comfortable. What if we are entering an era where the EU is a far less benign force (as indicated by the TTIP negotiations and an autocratic Central Bank arrangement)? Furthermore, it seems that the Remain camp are not allowing for the possibility of the EU falling apart whether or not we stay; a distinct possibility with the strains of the refugee and financial crises If the rights are important let us enact them in the UK independently of the EU. To an establishment which has boasted about the Magna Carta it is incredible that we cannot set up these protections for ourselves.
For both sides there is appalling lack of planning and timetable for reform. We ask the questions but get the same stock answers seemingly culled from the playbook of Brexit and Bremain with no real thought of what is being said. I spent last Saturday at the wonderful Levellers Day in Burford (my post here) and wonder what the Levellers and other parties to the great mid-17th Century debates would make of the current superficial approach to the development of our rights. Maybe the epithet that we get the politicians we deserve is correct after all!