The moment democracy became ‘undemocratic’
This is so frustrating. Living in this era. An immigrant, a foreigner, an EU citizen living in this United Kingdom at this specific moment in time. Amidst Brexit chaos, caught between two worlds and in political turmoil unprecedented in the recent years to local politics but not to me. As a Greek I have lived through the same uncertainty and chaos some years ago when Greece was in the brink of Grexit. Not because we wanted to but because the EU was so adamant to make an example out of us, out of a poor country who couldn’t keep up with the Euro standards set by the rich countries. So no! I am not the biggest fan of the EU but I do believe in it. I do believe it can work for the people, that it is a beacon of peace and prosperity for everyone involved. I believe in its potential. A potential that could be heavily influenced by countries like the UK. A rich and strong country with influence. Alas! People in this country never believed in Europe, never felt part of the Union. Isolated in their island and with a unique sense of pride they always associated EU with something outside of their psyche. Which is fine. I respect that. But not belonging in something to wanting out and seeking full isolation, is something I don’t understand.
I am still in awe in the face of blind persistence and displayed ignorance showed by many in this country. Just because they voted something 2.5 years ago based on pure emotion (and don’t tell me otherwise or that they knew what they were voting for when the question on the ballot was just “Remain”* or “Leave”) they still stick to their position with a dogmatic excitement that leaves no room for argument no matter what this may be from the ‘other’ side. The latest trend dictates that a second referendum would be ‘undemocratic’ because the people have already spoken. Allow me to very easily destroy this argument:
- The people have spoken indeed but 30 months ago. Since then more young people (who would be mostly affected by Brexit) are entitled to vote. More old people have died (most of them have voted for Brexit).
- Those who voted Leave as a protest vote (against austerity, against the Tories, against curved bananas, against God knows what else) are now more informed about what their superficial decision to vote as such, really entails. Of course there are those who sincerely hate the EU, despise the fact of belonging to a group of countries, hate foreigners or whatever but most of the Leavers are just sensible people misled by the lies of Boris, Farage and the rest of the ‘gang’ (coward wankers if you ask me). Now people know what Brexit really means. They know the FACTS versus the fantasy that was promised.
- In democracy people are allowed to change their minds and judge a situation based on new circumstances, based on the reality, based on facts. It’s the essence of democracy itself. That’s why we have general elections. Which by the way ARE legally binding. And a referendum is NOT legally binding if you didn’t know. It’s just the will of the people (well those who bothered to vote anyway) as reflected on a specific point in time and on this occasion answering a very generic and vague question. These people are allowed to vote again. They can speak again. Especially under the circumstances where is now revealed. In what universe asking the opinion of the PEOPLE is undemocratic?
- Of course the result of the referendum is respected. No matter how misguided the people were it was the people’s responsibility not to be misguided. I don’t argue with that. However in a democracy it is allowed for the other side of an argument to make their case heard as loud as they want. If Remain won, there would be no problem of Leavers protesting endlessly. Although in the past 35 years I don’t remember anyone complaining of being part of the EU and that’s what the Remain vote was. To STILL remain in the EU! It’s democratic to have a vote, to have a result out of this vote and it’s also democratic to challenge that result, to argue about it, to provide evidence and facts to make your argument stronger. And facts are 100% behind the view that the Leave vote was a mistake. My opinion of course! You DON’T have to agree with it but you can freely argue against it!
- Ask yourselves who is saying that a people’s vote is undemocratic? Jacob Rees-Mogg? Nigel Farage? Boris Johnson? The top Brexiteers? These coward plutocrats who will only benefit from a Brexit whilst the rest of you suffer the ‘short-term’ consequences. Short-term as in destroy at least a couple of generations. Sometimes it helps to see who is behind an argument in order to justify its validity.
- These people claim that the Brexit vote was a win of democracy over the bureaucracy of the European Union. In case you don’t remember out of the 72% who actually voted the difference was around 1.5 million votes (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/eu_referendum/results) so ok it was a win of the majority but one could argue that in such critical matters there would need to be at least a 10% gap to define the result. But anyway, it is what it is. But in our democracy we have laws. And the laws suggest that a referendum is NOT legally binding. But let us not repeat the same argument again. EU is bureaucratic for sure. But how on earth can anyone suggest that it’s not democratic? It has a parliament consisting of MEPs which the people of 28 countries vote for. It has fundamental democratic procedures embedded in it which are a fact and it’s ridiculous to even discuss about it. Is it fair? Not always. Is it controlled by Germany at the moment? Of course. Can the UK, the 6th largest economy in the world, change all that? Of course but they just don’t want to. They never did. UK always had one foot outside the door but it was part of it, had a voice on all decisions and was included in everything.
A People’s Vote is absolutely necessary to overcome the current impasse. Only the people can now offer advise on how the government should proceed since the government have proven to be absolutely useless and so is the opposition of the “I-don’t-know-what-I-want” Corbyn. You heard the people once, let them speak again. Maybe now they have got something else to say too. Maybe now after 2.5 years of REALITY some people can make better decisions. I am 100% sure that the vast majority don’t want a hard Brexit. So let them decide. May’s deal or no Brexit at all? Lose all the benefits but only keep the obligations or remain and become a force majeure in the European Union, influencing the lives of all of its people for the better and be a beacon of prosperity, hope, peace and open-mindness?
Oh and this time around allow also the EU citizens living and working in this country (say for at least 5 years) to vote. Why shouldn’t we have a say in all that?
*Actually those who voted “Remain” knew exactly what they were voting for. To stay in the EU and for things to carry on as they were or perhaps even improve. Ask ten Leavers what they “Leave” means to them and you’ll get ten different views.
**And say we have a second referendum and people again decide 60-40 that they want to leave. Fine. At least now they have made a more educated choice and of course we can carry on complaining about it. It’s within our rights. And it’s the government’s job to take that view and act on the country’s best interest. And there is absolutely no chance that a no-deal Brexit is any country’s best interest. If you disagree with that then I’m sorry but there is no help for you.