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What We Face 1 March 2007

Posted by David in Europe.

Just look at some of the comments on the BBC Europe Diary, it’s a wonder these pro-EU people manage to get out of bed in the morning without the European Commissioner for Getting Up In The Morning helping;

Look, let’s be frank… it’s RIDICULOUS to ask millions of ordinary citizens to give their considered view on something as complex as the EU’s constitutional arrangements. It’s accepted these days that “democracy” – vital though it is – has limits: most of the time we let better-informed experts (subject to the welcome push and pull of the political process, the media and NGO lobbying) get on with running our affairs, while we – the people – have a chance to give an overall judgment every few years in an election. That’s just as it should be: we don’t always see what’s in our own interest, and sometimes need our duly elected governments to decide on our behalf!
Angus Macdonald, Strasbourg, France

Mr Macdonald is rather strange is he not? “Ordinary citizens” are apparently inferior to elected self declared “better informed experts”? And “we don’t always see what’s in our own interest” he says, so we should trust someone else to know for us? If we’re all so stupid, why will the people we elect be any better?

Could someone explain to me why we cannot have an EU-wide referendum on a new constitution? After all, if would be silly to require every county to say yes in a referendum on a matter concerning the whole of the UK.
Chris Isbell, Southampton, European Union

Because, Chris, the UK is an accepted single political entity that was created over many hundreds of years through gradual and natural evolution. The EU is not an accepted single entity, and was created mostly by stealth and deceit (admitted by Edward Heath).



1. Carl-Johan Westholm - 1 March 2007

You can vote online about the future of Europe at http://www.freeEurope.info – ten points with a better Constitution.

2. Joe - 5 March 2007

I think the Nazis had the same idea as Mr McDonald.

3. Angus - 18 March 2007

Guys, there was an important qualifier in there: I said “sometimes”. When it comes to Big Things (like who governs me, or the laws I must abide by), I would always want a say. On some of the lesser things I would want a say too, especially if I have a bee in my bonnet about them. But – and here’s the point – not on EVERYTHING!

I would find it bizarre (and frankly rather tiring!) to be asked to give a view on every single piece of complex legislation that affected me – wouldn’t you? Neither you nor I have time or resources for that. So we delegate SOME of the decisions to people we trust, and mandate them to act in our best interest (and then rely on the eternal argy-bargy between politicians, the media – including this blog! – and civil society to stop ’em doing anything TOO stupid). This ain’t some radical opinion – it’s the plain fact of how modern pluralist democracy works!

I’m certainly not saying – as you unfairly suggest – that ordinary citizens are “inferior” to experts, just that some of the time, on SOME issues, they’re quite happy to nominate trusted intermediaries to do the thinking and deciding for ’em. Not everybody’s into full-time politics – sometimes people would rather do more fun things with their time…

4. The Bicycling Chameleon - 19 March 2007

Angus, welcome to the blog, but that’s not what you said. Are you really saying the European Constitution isn’t a big thing? The BBC comment thread was about holding a referendum on the EU Constitution, and you said “Look, let’s be frank… it’s RIDICULOUS to ask millions of ordinary citizens to give their considered view on something as complex as the EU’s constitutional arrangements.”

You mention that you want a say in “who governs”, but this is a fundamental part of the argument. Does the nation state govern, or the EU state? Many of the laws you must abide by are made by the EU. By being part of the larger EU, your voice within it is reduced. Also, much of the EU is unelected, with more being elected by the other EU members, and so you therefore have no say at all – whether you want it or not.

If you want a say on who governs you and the laws you must abide by, then you need your chance to reject the EU Constitution, not let politicians work it in their own favour.

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