The Brexit vote wasn’t democracy in action. It was populist ignorance on a grand scale.

I agree 100% with this, and will also continue to campaign for the United Kingdom to remain a full member of the European Union. As the grim economic reality starts to bite, I think many will wake up and stop the madness before it’s too late.

Pride's Purge

No-one else seems to be saying this, so I will.

Way back in 1988 – when the Thatcher government passed the infamous anti-homosexual law known as Section 28 – a majority of the UK population supported it.

I was one of the minority who was against it.

Even as late as 2000, polls showed around 52% of the UK population were against the Blair government repealing the law.

Despite being in the minority – I was never in any doubt that the majority were wrong.

These days, of course, everyone claims they know Section 28 was wrong. David Cameron – a strong supporter of Section 28 at the time it was introduced – has even apologised for it.

So we – the minority who were always against Section 28 – were in the end proven to be right.

That’s why Remain supporters need to get their balls back. Because being in a minority doesn’t make us wrong.

Politicians are too afraid…

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45 Responses to “The Brexit vote wasn’t democracy in action. It was populist ignorance on a grand scale.”

  1. telescoper Says:

    I remind potential commenters that I do not accept comments I consider to be offensive. That includes any describing me as “rabid”…

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    “Democracy doesn’t mean accepting bad decisions made by a bare majority of uninformed, ignorant, small-minded voters.”

    Setting aside the description, it does, actually.

    • telescoper Says:

      Democracy in the UK does mean accepting the decision of the electorate in a properly constituted election. The EU referendum was purely advisory so it’s up to Parliament to decide what to do next. I do not accept that the EU referendum requires us to leave nor do I think it is in the UK’s interest as a whole to do so. Over the last few weeks it has become clear that the economic and other consequences of leaving will be drastic and that the Leave campaign was based on lies. In due course I think the argument for remaining will become overwhelming.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Why bother having the Referendum then?

        Constitutionally, we are – or claim to be – a “representative democracy”, ie one in which the people elect representatives to, er, represent them. On some occasions the people are consulted directly, and if the representatives claim to rule in the name of the people then they should respect the result. They may claim that they rule for other reasons, of course, but then it isn’t democracy…

      • telescoper Says:

        The referendum could have been made binding via the Act that enabled it (cf the Act related to the referendum on the Alternative Vote) but a decision was made not to do that. The problem now is that we have no idea what form of relationship the UK people want to have with the EU. In my opinion all the alternatives are worse than what we have now, and people are seeing the evidence even though we haven’t even started the process yet. In the meantime, investment is drying up the economy is heading for recession. The Bank of England tried to do something about it yesterday but it can’t do much more, as it has very few tools in its box and by the time Article 50 is triggered and the real crash begins it will be powerless

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        That the Referendum was not binding in law isn’t particularly relevant to my comments about representative democracy and the question of why bother having it at all.

        Tough times are ahead economically, as they were had Remain won. Cause and effect isn’t easy in economics given the consistent failure of economists to predict.

      • telescoper Says:

        Cameron called the referendum for internal Tory party reasons, a gamble that backfired enormously!

        Tough times may have been ahead, but I can’t see the sense of making them tougher. I think the EU economy will continue to grow, while the UK will fall into recession unless we remain. European businesses are already preparing to write UK firms out of their supply chains.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        No business is going to change its supplier unless tariffs make its current supplier less competitive or the goods involved fail to conform to EU standards. Whether those things happen has not even begun to be decided given that Article 50 hasn’t been invoked yet. If any business has said these things, I suggest it is a large one whose boss is being leant on by pro-EU forces, or one that was already considering doing this and is making its statement public for political reasons.

        I think in contrast that the UK economy will grow whereas the Eurozone will shrink, but we both know the hazards of economic prediction. The trouble with economics is that for every argument there is a counter-argument (that is why both sides got away with lying their socks off in the run-up to the referendum). To decide which of two competing economic effects is dominant involves quantitative comparison, and going quantitative in macroeconomics is known more honestly as guesswork!

        I agree with your view of why Cameron called the Referendum but, once a referendum has been held, it would be an undemocratic act – literally, in view of the etymology – to ignore it.

      • telescoper Says:

        Actually I know a whole bunch of SMEs in the digital area who are planning to relocate to Berlin if Article 50 is triggered. Tariffs will be imposed if the UK leaves. Without the UK, the EU will become far more protectionist. That will be partially offset by the falling pound, but we import more than we export so that’s also got a downside.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        We’ll see about tariffs, as it would be the EU shooting itself in the foot.

        May I ask you to perform a gedankenexperiment? Suppose Remain had won the referendum and a bunch of Brexiteers were insisting that the result was not binding. How would you react?

      • telescoper Says:

        Same way. It’s not binding. In fact Farage openly stated that if it went the other way by 52-48 it would be “unfinished business”.

        As for tariffs we will indeed see…but I don’t see the UK getting a generous deal in any way.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Withdrawal from the political project that is the EU gives no logical reason why either side should penalise the other in trade – which is mutually beneficial. I trust that the EU would not act out of pique? If so, who wants to be partners with politicians like that?

      • telescoper Says:

        The European single market comes at a price. If we don’t pay the price we don’t get access to the market. If someone leaves a club, is it an act of pique to deny them the benefits of membership?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Remember that free trade is *mutually* beneficial. There is going to be a lot of lobbying of EU politicians by continental businesses who have trade relations with us *not* to be vengeful, and I wouldn’t bet on the outcome. If the EU politicians do behave out of spite, moreover, harming their own businesses and ours, we are surely better not being in a political union with such people.

      • telescoper Says:

        There’s nothing vengeful about it! If you leave the club, you lose the benefits. Trade is indeed of mutual benefit, which is one if the reasons it would be crazy for us to leave the EU.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        We don’t understand. We need to renegotiate, but why should both sides wish to hobble something that is of mutual benefit?

      • telescoper Says:

        The UK has voted in a referendum to do precisely that.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Sory Peter, I changed horses in midstream and edited badly. The first word of the preceding post should be “I”.

      • telescoper Says:

        You can’t teach an old leopard to change its spots in midstream…😀

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        And the first word of that one should be “sorry”!

        I’m going out for the day, and will return to the subject later. Sadly not to Edgbaston although an intriguing day’s play is in prospect. I hope you are unpacked in Cardiff!

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Make hay while the sun changes its spots. The England cricket team did.

  3. Looking in from outside, it seemed clear that a great deal of the information propagated by the ‘Leave’ campaign was either exaggerated or downright untrue. Meanwhile, attempts to explain the potential downside of a Brexit were labelled as ‘Project Fear’. So I think it’s perfectly possible that Brexit is an example of a democratic decision that was based on faulty information – the outcome of anti-EU propaganda by a tabloid press and, yes, the Tory party.
    In other words, just because a decision is democratic doesn’t mean it is the right decision for the country. But I don’t see how any PM can ignore the vote. As regards this particular PM, it seems to me that every action Teresa Maye has taken so far l is focused on the Tory party, rather than on international relations. …

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I really think it is distortion to accuse only one side of lying. Both did.

      • telescoper Says:

        An example of a “remain” lie, please?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Here is an example. A few days before the Referendum, David Cameron said on LBC radio about Turkey joining the EU, “The issue simply isn’t going to arise. This is the reddest of red herrings. At the current rate of progress, Turkey could qualify to join in about the year 3000.” Yet EU diplomats stated that talks on Turkish membership would reopen the week after. That is a clear example of Remain’s champion saying what he hoped would increase the Remain vote in the face of facts he assuredly knew.

        The discussion above about tariffs is a better example of the overall issue than I had realised. Tariffs would be slapped on by politicians, against the will of people who run businesses in both Britain and continental Europe. And that exemplifies the problem with the EU project – it is politician-driven not people-driven, and increasingly often against the will of the people. Markus Kerber is the head of the BDI (the German CBI), and he said shortly before the Referendum that it would be ‘very, very foolish’ for the EU to punish the UK with tariffs in the event of Brexit.

        I do accept that many people in Brussels are not working clandestinely towards a United States of Europe. I suspect that a small number of very senior people would like to be senior federal administrators within a USE because they would get great power, but mostly the problem is as follows. When you put in place a huge bureaucracy that is dedicated to “ever closer union” then it has to find ways to justify its existence. For, if it ever admitted “this is close enough” then tens of thousands of bureaucrats would put themselves out of jobs. Either they have to keep thinking up new ways of making the union ever closer, or they face losing their jobs and salaries. It is obvious which of those alternatives is going to happen, and I would ask where the process is leading. Many proposals are increasingly intrusive on business and on the individual, moreover. Perhaps some people across Europe are happy to have their laws made by people who have never lived inside their national borders and don’t speak their language, but I’m not one of them.

      • telescoper Says:

        I’m not a fan of Cameron at all, but I don’t think that qualifies as a lie at all. Turkey has been in talks for decades and has made negligible progress on most of the points. Cameron’s statement was a direct extrapolation. In any case we have a veto on new accessions, as does every other EU country. And there is absolutely no chance of it joining for the forseeable future after the coup attempt and Erdogan’s crackdown. Turkey truly was – or should have been – a non-issue.

        As for tariffs, no doubt some businesses would prefer not to pay taxes either. That doesn’t necessarily equate to what ordinary people want.

        It may be that the UK can negotiate access to the common market, but I doubt this will be the case as it would require acceptance of free movement of people and the anti-immigration sentiment in the UK forbids this.

        For the record your “huge bureaucracy” is smaller than that of a medium-sized County Council in the UK…

        And, finally, EU laws are made collectively with the participation of all member countries. That’s something I am entirely happy with.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Regarding Turkey, the coup came after the referendum vote, so it isn’t relevant to whether David Cameron was lying during his Remain campaign. I don’t see any point in widening the discussion from whether Remain was lying to whether Turkey was suitable to join the EU; things have changed there. Before the Referendum was set in stone Cameron had been the strongest advocate in the EU of Turkish membership, though. To say he is two-faced – to the Turks and to his own electorate – is an understatement.

        There is no analogy between tariffs and taxes. A government levies taxes on its own businesses, and tariffs on the goods of foreign businesses. Or not. Free trade enriches both parties to a deal, so that trade wars impoverish both sides. There is a motivation for both sides to cooperate in not levying them. There is no inevitability to tariffs following Brexit, or moral justification for them.

        You say that the size of the EU bureaucracy is similar to that of a medium-sized UK county council. That matches Nick Clegg’s claim in a debate two years ago, when Derbyshire CC employed 36,000 and the European Commission employed 33,000. But there is far more to the EU bureaucracy than the Commission, and nearly a decade ago there were already 170,000:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/2535295/EU-bureaucrats-outnumber-British-army-two-to-one-say-campaigners.html

        Another Remain lie was Mr Cameron claiming that the EU’s free-movement-across-borders policy, which among other things makes forward planning of infrastructure impossible, would continue to be reformed in the event of a Remain majority. He said this in the last round of interviews before the vote, but was within a few hours explicitly contradicted by Mr Juncker who said that Britain had already received “the maximum” on offer in the February talks which Mr Cameron had conducted to strengthen Remain’s hand. It is inconceivable that Mr Cameron did not know that.

      • telescoper Says:

        170,00 is still a lot fewer than Whitehall!

      • telescoper Says:

        Just for the record, Turkey applied for EEC membership back in 1987. Formal negotiations to join the EU began in 2005. Since then only one of the 34 accession criteria have been met, and negotiations on 19 of the chapters haven’t even started yet. Turkey was never going to be in a position to join the EU soon. It was quite right to pursue negotiations, in my opinion, as the process would have helped Turkey become more democratic and economically stable, though even if they meet all 34 requirements, I suspect a number of the member countries will veto them anyway. If the UK remains it will have a veto, but if course if it leaves it won’t. That means any Post-Brexit arrangements with the EU would have to apply to new accessions.

        I think in principle Turkish membership of the EU could be a good thing but it’s so far off being a practical possibility it seems bizarre to me that it was so prominent in the Leave argument, except of course as a cynical appeal to racism.

      • telescoper Says:

        Ps. People from Wales are free to move to England whenever they want and vice-versa. This doesn’t make planning infrastructure impossible within the UK.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The issue of Turkey, which has a very different history from European countries – which obviously influences it today in the same way any country is influenced by its past – raises the deeper question: what *should* the criteria for EU membership be? How much shared history, culture and geography are necessary, and why? Is a set of economic criteria sufficient – which might encapsulate the relevant parts of those other factors? As I am against the entire EU project I have no preferred answers to those questions, but I’d read with interest a discussion of them among those who support the EU project. It is exclusively the politics of the EU project that I’m against (to repeat myself); as part of my identity I feel European. I also feel English and British. I deeply believe that these aren’t narrow either/ors.

        The standard of living varies much less across the UK than between the richest and the poorest countries in the EU. The latter divide is much more likely to stimulate large-scale immigration that makes forward planning of infrastructure chaotic. The unspoken expectation in the Eurozone is: Hey, Mediterraneans, leave your extended families and your national culture and go north if you want a job. I think it is inhumane to expect people to leave lands where theirs is the first language inorder to provide cheap labour elsewhere, but that is the effect of monetary without fiscal union, as in the Eurozone. This is an argument that the old Left agrees with. Jeremy Corbyn takes this view; he was lifelong anti-EU until he became Labour leader.

        Those 170,000 Eurocrats (as of 2008; presumably more now) will be on large salaries compared to English county council employees. but I’m tempted to ask – not entirely seriously – how many men, in the Roman senate, ran the whole of Europe…

      • “I do accept that many people in Brussels are not working clandestinely towards a United States of Europe.”

        Chemtrails. If you believe in conspiracy theories, try to provide at least some evidence.

        “I suspect that a small number of very senior people would like to be senior federal administrators within a USE because they would get great power,”

        Evidence?

        On the other hand, many people would like to be king of the world. That doesn’t mean that they present a real danger, though.

        “When you put in place a huge bureaucracy”

        As has been pointed out many times, it is not huge. Even if it is absolutely larger than that of Derbyshire, it is relatively much smaller.

        that is dedicated to “ever closer union” then it has to find ways to justify its existence.

        Stop harping on that phrase. I provided a link a while back from a respected fact-checking organization which pointed out that this is widely intentionally misquoted and/or quoted out of context. It doesn’t mean what you say it means.

        For, if it ever admitted “this is close enough” then tens of thousands of bureaucrats would put themselves out of jobs. Either they have to keep thinking up new ways of making the union ever closer, or they face losing their jobs and salaries.

        And why is this not a much larger problem in the UK?

      • “I’m tempted to ask – not entirely seriously – how many men, in the Roman senate, ran the whole of Europe”

        The Roman Empire was a fascist state. Such governments are notoriously efficient. Efficiency is not the only criterion.

      • “The unspoken expectation in the Eurozone is: Hey, Mediterraneans, leave your extended families and your national culture and go north if you want a job. I think it is inhumane to expect people to leave lands where theirs is the first language inorder to provide cheap labour elsewhere, but that is the effect of monetary without fiscal union, as in the Eurozone.”

        This happens with people from non-EU countries as well. Most immigration due to better jobs—mainly most of all immigration—into the EU is from countries outside of it.

      • telescoper Says:

        This of course ignores the millions of e.g. UK citizens who live and worK elsewhere in Europe…

      • “The issue of Turkey, which has a very different history from European countries – which obviously influences it today in the same way any country is influenced by its past – raises the deeper question: what *should* the criteria for EU membership be? “

        There are many people who support the idea of the EU but are strongly opposed to Turkey being a member. Helmut Schmidt was one.

      • telescoper Says:

        I certainly wouldn’t support accession of Turkey in its current political or economic state, but to separate it automatically from “European” countries. The Ottoman Empire encompassed modern Turkey and many “European” countries.

      • “This of course ignores the millions of e.g. UK citizens who live and worK elsewhere in Europe…”

        No. Maybe my numbers are wrong, but I suspect that there are far more Turks and people from former Yugoslavia (most countries of which are not in the EU) in Germany than people from other EU countries. The situation is probably similar in many countries, though in the UK and France there are many immigrants from former colonies.

        Depends somewhat on the definition, of course. Since EU citizens can now have dual citizenship in many cases, if someone has the citizenship of where he works, are they still an immigrant? What about their children?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Phillip,

        You responded to my comment, that if the EU “ever admitted “this is close enough” then tens of thousands of bureaucrats would put themselves out of jobs. Either they have to keep thinking up new ways of making the union ever closer, or they face losing their jobs and salaries.” You asked: “why is this not a much larger problem in the UK?” I don’t understand the question; please clarify it.

        I also wrote: “I do accept that many people in Brussels are not working clandestinely towards a United States of Europe.” You replied: “If you believe in conspiracy theories, try to provide at least some evidence.” I again don’t understand, because I’m saying that there is NOT a conspiracy. I’m suggesting that the EU bureaucracy is a vested interest that consequently has a momentum of its own towards a USE, because to cease enacting ever closer union is to put itself out of a job. If the EU does not implode under the tension that the Eurocurrency and the borders policy are now under, I foresee the union reaching a point at which a USE is just a small step which appears natural and inevitable, even though right now it seems a long way away. This can happen without any conspiracy at the top, because of the will of the bureaucracy to perpetuate itself and to expand – as we all know bureaucracies tend to.

        I believe my argument about vested interest is decisive over claims that “this is now close enough”. I didn’t invent the phrase “ever closer union.” In fact proposals were mooted within days of the UK referendum that would closen the union.

        “As has been pointed out many times, it [the bureaucracy] is not huge. Even if it is absolutely larger than that of Derbyshire, it is relatively much smaller.”

        But enormously more powerful…

      • telescoper Says:

        As has also been pointed out many times the UK has a veto on further integration. As long as it remains inside. Actually, I think a United States of Europe has much to recommend it, in much the same as the United Kingdom.

        I think it’s quite likely that if the UK does leave then the other EU countries will work more closely together, mainly to seize the opportunity for them to boost their global influence and trading potential after Britain’s self-imposed decline.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Time will tell, Peter. You are honest in commending a USE; others (I don’t mean Phillip) aren’t.

      • “I don’t understand the question; please clarify it.”

        You make it sound like all EU bureaucrats are megalomaniacs. However, there are many more people in the UK civil service, so why is that not a much bigger problem? Is a civil servant necessarily evil because he works in Brussels and not in Blighty?

        “I again don’t understand, because I’m saying that there is NOT a conspiracy.”

        OK, I misread this, probably because the bit before did sound like a conspiracy theory.

        “I’m suggesting that the EU bureaucracy is a vested interest that consequently has a momentum of its own towards a USE, because to cease enacting ever closer union is to put itself out of a job.”

        Again, why is this a problem in the EU but not in the UK? Or do you, by the same argument, advocate dissolution of the UK, or even a return to the seven kingdoms?

        I didn’t invent the phrase “ever closer union.”

        True, but it has been pointed out here, backed up with a creditable authority, that it does not mean what you insinuate that it means.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I’m not using what I like to call insinuendo, Phillip; I’m saying it straight out. I’ve stated above that I regard the self-interest of a bureaucracy in expanding itself as throwing into question all arguments that closeness of union won’t go any further. Fresh proposals were mooted within days of the UK referendum.

        “You make it sound like all EU bureaucrats are megalomaniacs.”

        I was trying to do the opposite, when I stated that I was NOT advancing a conspiracy theory. Bureaucracy is not neutral; it has self-interest. Viewed at the human level, this is a collective phenomenon.

        “However, there are many more people in the UK civil service, so why is that not a much bigger problem?”

        It’s a problem for people like me who do not want their country’s governance to be in considerable part from the outside.

        “do you, by the same argument, advocate dissolution of the UK…?”

        That is a matter for its peoples. The UK as presently constituted is about a century old. It appears to undergo changes of border on that timescale, but the sun still rises… If the Scots want out, it does have an impact on the English, but this Englishman at least has no objection.

      • “It’s a problem for people like me who do not want their country’s governance to be in considerable part from the outside.”

        Most UK MPs are not from Derbyshire, so the people of Derbyshire are mainly governed from the outside just as each country in Europe does not send a majority of EU MPs. I guess it depends on what one considers to be “outside”. It is certainly the case that, say, the German and Dutch (even despite WWII) feel much closer than, say, the English and almost any other population. It is certainly the case that the idea that the EU is governing countries from outside is larger in the UK than in many other places. This can, of course, provide an emotional reason to vote “leave”. It does not automatically follow, though, that there are no disadvantages to “leave”. It is certainly possible for something to be economically good but emotionally bad. In fact, this is probably how must workers see their jobs.

        I find it strange, though, that the “leave” campaign apparently needed misinformation (this probably tipped the balance in favour of “leave”) of an economic nature in order to succeed.

  4. “I certainly wouldn’t support accession of Turkey in its current political or economic state, but to separate it automatically from “European” countries. The Ottoman Empire encompassed modern Turkey and many “European” countries.”

    One has to draw the lines somewhere. Yes, the Ottoman Empire encompassed many “European” countries. There are people still alive who remember the oppression. 😐 For that matter, Russia is European in some sense; why not extend the EU to Vladivostok, by that argument?

    In general, though, why base it on accidents of history and geography? If anything, common values should be the criteria, so White Russia (Belorus) no, even though it is geographically in Europe, but, say, Canada yes, even though it is not?

    What has functioned, more or less, has been countries joining the EU after they had reached something of a similar standard. What has not functioned has been countries joining before this, hoping perhaps that somehow EU membership would magically eradicate corruption and so on, when if anything—since getting kicked out is difficult if not impossible—it has meant less pressure to change. Too much pressure to expand might backfire, leading to the election of those who would like to dissolve the EU, if that is seen to be the lesser of two evils (even if—see Brexit—this is not really the case).

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