Misc: Brexit stuff…

Teresa and I signed the ‘revoke article 50’ online petition. When we signed there were about 3.6 million signatures. It looks like it’ll exceed 6 million very soon. It’s by the far the largest number of signatories in a U.K. Parliamentary petition ever.

We, the signatories, have already received an email reply, saying the government will not revoke article 50. However, since then the Scottish parliament has voted in favour of revoking article 50. So the move to remain in the EU appears to be gaining traction even amongst some (S)MPs.

As well as signing the petition, I posted on FB encouraging everyone I know who shares similar pro-European feelings to do likewise, and I’ve also written both to my local MP, Stephen Barclay (Tory), and even Theresa May.

I doubt either will ever know I wrote to them, as I doubt either email will get past the filtering processes both undoubtedly use. So I thought I’d post my message to May here as well:

Theresa May

I have read online, in numerous places, that you have said to revoke Article 50 would be a ‘failure of Democracy’. In my opinion democracy as practised by the Conservative Party has already, and for a long time, been an abject failure.

For example, the Conservatives conducted a shameful and misleading campaign on proportional representation, a form of voting that could and should increase the real strength of democratic representation, which, like the Brexit issue, included the cynical use of a referendum.

In both instances the Conservatives were not seeking the best outcome for the people they supposedly represent, but the outcome that they themselves favoured. Properly implemented proportional representation would weaken the Conservative grip on power, and if the Conservatives really want to conserve anything at all (aside from, all too often, their own wealth) that grip on power would be it. And you’ve done a good job, occupying the position of ruling party for 75% of the time since WWII.

Mention of WWII brings me back to Brexit: one of the key reasons for almost all of the aspects of Pan-European cooperation since WWII has been to prevent the resurgence of petty nationalism, such as stoked the fires of the two World Wars. Yes, the institutions of Europe may be far from perfect. But many of us believe it is far better to work from within. If we leave the EU, we will almost certainly be precipitating further political fragmentation that may well usher in a more volatile nationalistic era in politics.

Do the Conservatives really want their international political legacy to be to return us to a pre-WWII state of affairs?

Whilst I doubt that you will see/read this, I hope that you do. And even more fervently I hope that you have the political and moral strength to admit that pandering to the anti-European factions in both your own party and the country at large was a mistake. Be strong, be courageous, be a real leader: revoke article 50.

Sebastian Palmer

What I think May really means, when she says there’s been ‘a failure of a Democracy’, is that there’s been a failure of Tory policy. The Tories opened this can of worms, but they don’t want to eat it. May now wants to worm out of her onerous responsibilities, by quitting her post when a firm steady hand is needed most.

The Tories have no fear or compunction about betraying or upsetting that part of the electorate that doesn’t agree with them. Their desire to ‘stand firm’ and not revoke Article 50 is entirely about conserving their own political following. Just as they didn’t want PR, ’cause it’d weaken their grip on power, they don’t want to alienate their hardcore anti-European followers. Screw the rest of us!

Interestingly, and tellingly/unsurprisingly, the way the Tories are handling Brexit, including their use of referenda, relates very notably to their approach to PR, by which I mean proportional representation. The 2017 general election saw a difference of approx 2% in the number of votes cast for Labour and the Conservatives. And yet, with our current system  that translated into an 8% difference in number of seats. That’s the kind of ‘democracy’ the Conservatives are so keen to, erm… Conserve!

And the will of the people? Which people? The turnout for the Brexit referendum, from a potential total of just over 46 million voters, was about 72%. And of that 72%, about 50% voted leave, and 48% voted remain. So, just as the first past the post system we currently employ can and does deliver a party into government on an approximate one-third support basis (and not even necessarily the party with the highest number of votes*), so too with Brexit. As things stood at the time of the referendum, the leave vote represented roughly one-third of the eligible electorate.

* This has cut both ways: in 1951 marginally more people voted Labour than Conservative, but the number of seats didn’t correspond, and the Tories won. In 1974 the roles were reversed, when a fractionally higher Tory turnout returned a Labour government!

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