Why do we have a parliament?
Why not just put everything to a referendum?
Let the people decide like they did with the EU?
This may seem like a strange set of questions to ask, but someone, somewhere, is asking them right now.
Here’s the thing, I dislike politicians, as a rule, I often disagree with decisions of parliament, I hate the way political parties work and the enforcement of the three line whip that colours so much of our democracy. I hate the cronyism and buying of influence by political donations. I hate first past the post, the constituency system, the lack of a truly reprehensive parliament made up by proportional representation. Yes, there is a lot I dislike about the current political system.
But I hate referendums a damn sight more.
We elect a government for a reason. We all stand in line and cast our votes and send them off to that big building in the middle of London for a reason. We proxy our democratic rights for a reason.
And it’s this.
We are stupid.
Not stupid because we do this, but stupid in that we, the collection of individuals who make up the population, do not have the will, the time, or indeed the desire to look at issues completely in all there detail and from all sides and reach a decision based upon this. Yet in a referendum, this is exactly what we should do. Should been the operative word.
That is what we normally send our politicians to parliament for. To cover the details of the questions before them and came up with the best plan. We may disagree with the plans they come up with. They may be tinged by party bias or the political philosophies of right and left. But they still have to understand the issue or at least have access to all the facts and the ability to comprehend them.
Which is not to say the general public can’t, simply that it doesn’t, won’t and in many cases is unable to. Not everyone has a degree in politics or economics for that matter. More importantly, not everyone is intellectually suited to the task at hand, or even interested. Which is why we elect politicians, on the vagaries of political stand points. To represent us in parliament and make the decisions we can’t. Just as we get a brick layer to build our extension or a doctor to stitch up the cut on our face, or transplant our hearts.
And then we have referendums, where the decision lays in the hand of the rest of us. Many of whom frankly are not educated in the fine point of international systems and politics.
I personally have studied politics philosophy and economics for 5 years, and I do not pretend to be able to predict all the outcomes of the Brexit vote. Though I did at least have some knowledge going into the polling booth to cast my vote.
Many others did not.
While I don’t give undue credence to some of the stories that have come out since the vote, I personally know people who voted out to ‘stub one in the eye of David Cameron’ and because ‘ they did not think out would win so it didn’t matter, just a protest vote…’
I have listened to local radio and seen video interviews with the vox pop in Barnsley where the vote was over 75% in favour of leaving, and the prevalent reasons giving for voting to leave are often nothing to do with the EU. The refugee crisis in southern Europe is a result of the Gulf war, and a long chain of mistakes and problems the Gulf war caused.
The infamous 350million a week we pay into the EU may sound like a huge amount of money, but how many of the voters understand what happens to that money, how much we get back directly, how much we get back indirectly, how that outgoing is small in comparison to the GDP gains involved…
Sunderland, one of the first regions to report, voted out by large degrees, a city who’s largest employer is the NISSAN plant who’s existence is a result of our membership of the EU, who’s existence is now under treat along with thousands of jobs by the time you look at the knock on effect the closing of the NISSAN plant could have on other employers and the local economy.
Cornwall voted out, yet the county gets 60 million a year form the EU that they now want from other sources.
Wales one of the largest beneficiaries of EU money in the UK voted out.
Why would these three of many example vote for the political equivalent of lemmings and cliffs?
Simply because the voters do not understand all the issues, they get clip notes from both the Leave and the remain campaigns, much is decided by media influence, and it comes down in many ways to who runs the better campaign for hearts and minds.
I voted remain; my political views lean that way, but this is not sour grapes. My problem is not that I was on the losing side of a popularity contest where the voters don’t fully understand the issues involved. Its that we have the popularity contest at all.
If I do not understand all the connotations involved, with my knowledge of politics, years of study, and taking an interest in the subject. How can we expect the average voter to do so.
We elect a parliament to make the decisions for us, we chose whom we believe will be the best proxies for our views. And then we should let them get on with it.
That way we can blame them is it all goes wrong, not ourselves …