Thursday, 8 April 2010

Now double standards on democracy

Suddenly, Gordon Brown is a convert to holding referendums.

In 1997, we were promised a referendum on the euro, should the government ever decide to recommend membership.

There was much talk of '5 economic tests', but most could see that the real reason the vote was never held was that, contrary to the government view, people would have voted overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the pound.

In 2005, we were promised a referendum on the EU Constitution.

But when, having been rejected by the French and Dutch peoples in their own public votes, it was renamed as the Lisbon Treaty - "substantially equivalent" to the EU Constitution, according to the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee - the government nevertheless played out a charade that it was a completely different document and shamefully wriggled out of their election promise.

Here in 2010, another referendum 'promise' is now being dangled before us by the same people who have repeatedly failed to deliver such promises in the past.

In a
speech to Centre Point yesterday, Brown proposed a public vote on reform of the electoral system for the House of Commons and on changing the House of Lords to make it elected.

Necessary changes, you may think. But why does such a domestic rearrangement warrant a referendum if transferring the actual decision-making powers of those institutions to external bodies beyond meaningful democratic control apparently doesn't?

Brown's double standards are exposed once again.

As a result of his plans, "Britain’s democratic future", he said, "will not belong to any politician or party. It will be up to the people."

Mere months after handing over a range of new decision-making to EU institutions and denying any of us the say on that fundamental shift of power that he promised us at the last election.

Actions, not words. Brown has already shown very clearly his real attitude to democracy.

There has indeed "been a fundamental rupture in the bond of trust between those who serve, and those who they are sworn to serve."

Gordon Brown's problem is that he himself has acted so shamefully, and so conspicuously, to diminish our democracy that it is now far too late for him to hope to regain that trust.

In truth, those who act to degrade democracy deserve only to lose their position within in.

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