Saturday, 5 November 2016
Laws and Asses
Well, what a rum old do this is. Since the 24th June, although many did indeed accept the admittedly slim outcome of the referendum, some on the remain side have hardly covered themselves in glory by belly-aching at every turn and cheering on every dip in the value of the pound or the FTSE or the employment figures that seemed, however fleetingly to prove their thesis; their thesis that Britain outside the EU could not possibly survive. They seized on every negative announcement as proof that Brexit would bring the sky down but when those expectations largely failed to materialise they did their level best to wish economic and cultural disaster upon us.
It would be impossible to ever calculate, for any turn of events, how much was caused by genuine fears regarding Brexit, as opposed to confected fears spread by influential Remainers. Investment and success in business and in the markets is often founded on and driven by optimism and perception. It is entirely possible to destabilise individuals, companies and even the whole economy by indulging in morbid pessimism. Call it a Ratner moment; telling everybody “We’re shit” is hardly likely to improve things. In the meantime, of course, many £billions will have been made by the fundies and other speculators, relishing the chance to indulge in a bit of profitable mischief.
Whatever else may be at stake, make no bones about it, there are many, in government and beyond, who do not and will not accept the now decried ‘will of the people’ and the referendum promise made by David Cameron’s government has become ‘advisory’. Yes, we know the referendum was not made legally binding – some say to this very end – but it was promulgated very clearly that whatever the electorate chose would be carried out. At the moment, the 48% believe they are the majority; in the future, the writing on the barn door may yet be mysteriously altered to reflect that ‘fact’.
The Remain trope and taunt: “You wanted parliamentary democracy; now you’ve got it you don’t like it!” holds no water. Whether wilfully or through actual ignorance the Remain lobby simply do not understand one of the principle reasons the vote went against them; the sense that democracy had been given away to unaccountable and distant elites. It doesn’t really matter if those elites are in Brussels or here at home, if the machinations of law are too complex, too subtle for voters to grasp then there is something wrong with the law.
Nuance is the problem – if this meaning of law is so friable that we need expensively trained and remunerated lawyers to tell the little people what it means, then the law is no better than the koran or the bible. (Religious scholars are a con; charlatans purporting to interpret the literal word of a non-existent god.) If legal decisions can be appealed and appeals overturned by examining the same texts then we are not dealing with anything solid but shifting sands whose navigable channels can be bought by the highest bidder, the law is, in the eyes of the masses, just wrong. And every legal decision unintelligible to the average man – such as not deporting violent criminals with multiple convictions because they have rights their own actions denied others – heaps mockery on top of suspicion.
The sophistry being used to justify in retrospect that which should have been clear from the outset is not an honourable use of law. I agree we need checks and balances on the power of governments and high officials, but those checks and balances are supposed to return the power to ‘we, the people’. Odd then, isn’t it, that the noisy demonstrations, the hysterical rhetoric, the wailing and gnashing of teeth having largely been ignored as the protests of bad losers, the large part of the establishment who want to remain in the EU are now relying on a supposedly private citizen’s action to get their way. And relying in turn on unelected and possibly biddable lawyers? Because, of course, no judge has never been found wanting in moral fibre or propriety, have they?
I always expected I’d be long dead before Britain became a truly successful, independent nation state again, but I thought I might get to see a glimpse of the optimistic upturn as we left the sinking EU tramp steamer. That is looking less likely by the day. Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. I’m beginning to believe that the current interpretation of parliamentary democracy may well be the worst form of democracy.