I had believed that when I composed my previous article for my Brexit blog that was the final article, it was the end of the matter and my blog. After all, the EU referendum had been and gone. The result had been declared in favour of Leave. I would no longer be required to write additional articles as the politicians of Westminster would comply with the referendum result which by a House of Commons vote they had all sworn on oath to put before the electorate and not only abide by the outcome of that decision but to implement that outcome in its entirety. By taking part in the Commons vote, irrespective of which way they voted, all MP’s bound themselves into this contract between themselves and the electorate. To break this contract would be an act of deceit and deception upon the electorate, breaking the sacred covenant held between the politicians and the electorate.
Now thanks to a ruling in the High Court, Brexit must now be debated and voted upon by both Houses of Parliament. Both the MP’s and the Lords must vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU for this now to become an actuality. The fly in the ointment to this recent ruling is that the overwhelming majority of members sitting in both Houses are openly opposed to Brexit and wish for the UK to remain within the EU. We have now reached a bizarre situation where there are pro EU MP’s whose electorate in their constituencies voted in favour of Brexit by large majorities. So the question must be; will those MP’s comply with the will of the majority of their constituents and vote for Brexit in its entirety? Somehow, I very much doubt it. I can envisage their bloody minded arrogance, their conceited pomposity, believing that the majority of their constituents who voted for them to become a Member of Parliament are in this instance totally wrong and at fault. I can well believe many of these MP’s will choose to block Brexit at every turn and opportunity. Or at the very least water down Brexit so much so that the UK ends up being little better off than Norway’s model. By doing so, these MP’s will be displaying a level of superiority to their citizens which has not been observed since the 1700’s. Indeed, the last time this level of defiance by sitting MP’s was last seen was in 1773, only to be followed by the Boston Tea Party and the loss of the Americas. It is an honour and a privilege to be an MP but, in this modern day and age do they really need to be reminded of their position in society? That they are the servants of the people and not their masters who reside in petulant judgement over their citizens? If our MP’s willingly choose to annul the outcome of a referendum then this will break a bond of trust which has been held between MP’s and their electorate for centuries. To break that bond in times when people have little respect for politics is to set a foolish precedent. Why will any citizen in future bother to turn up at their local polling station and vote? When more people have voted on this occasion than ever before only to have that outcome denied them? What will be the point of voting? None. That is a depressing and negative outcome for the citizens of any country to face.
As for the House of Lords? These members are totally unelected. It was different in the past when the peerages were carried down family lineages. Those members knew from a young age the responsibility that they would hold in future life. They were prepared for all eventualities. Yet now, we have actors, celebrities and suchlike who now reside in those chambers as members of the House of Lords. I am certain there are even more inexperienced members who reside there, well out of their depth of understanding. These members will no doubt take much delight in voting down Brexit. Unelected members denying the voice of the majority after they have spoken.
So it is with much sadness I have returned to my blog. In retrospect looking back at the Brexit campaign I did learn one thing of importance and value. Like the overwhelming majority of Brexiteers I was in the camp of being pro Europe but not in favour of the EU and it’s level of political control. It was a constant battle to convince the undecided voter that we were in favour of Europe just not in favour of our nation losing its sovereignty. It is not as if the UK were the only nation to be disgruntled with the EU. If you were to travel to Greece, Italy or any of the poorer EU member states I am certain you will find many dissatisfied citizens who have lost their voice entirely to those who reside on the EU Council and Parliament. And that is part of the problem faced by the EU and the rest of the world. The political classes of the modern world seem ever eager to form ever larger centralized governments, being over eager to form new larger federal nations in the hope of carrying more political clout on the world’s stage. Simultaneously, there is this narrative desire to shape and mould the citizens of the world into a “one size fits all” or “catch all” system where we are all interchangeable with each other. All with the same requirements and needs, which is utterly preposterous. A prime illustration of this is the Eurozone of the EU. Countries which should never have been allowed to enter the Eurozone in the first place are now held politically and fiscally captive at the mercy of foreign nations, governments and their laws. These nations have lost all self determination and by doing so are unable to fulfil the basic needs and requirements of their own peoples. All because these political and legislative powers have been centralized and removed from the citizens.
Bereft of much of their individuality, all of the member states of the EU are required to act as an individual nation, speaking with one voice no matter their cultural and historical differences. All sovereignty and the right to self determination long since lost. As I campaigned for Brexit, being uncomfortable with the level of power being exhibited by the EU, I had a “Road to Damascus” epiphany of my own. And the recent High Court ruling cemented that epiphany. While campaigning I found my political views becoming more and more Libertarian. By the end of the referendum campaign I had come to realize that the unpopularity of the EU and many of its faults were due to its vast size, their centralized governments filled with unaccountable bureaucrats and the inability of this faceless behemoth to communicate, let alone converse with or listen to its citizens. But many of the undecideds and remainers responded with the reply that the UK was not much better off by having the unelected House of Lords and no voice in England outside of London and the centralized political power held by Westminster. I found I was unable to disagree with them or find fault with this fact.
I realized; was the political animal that is Westminster, with all of the centralized government that is Whitehall along with Parliament that much different to the centralized behemoth in Brussels that we criticize so much? The answer to this, is probably there’s very little difference at all. The solution to this in my mind is a new political template which incorporates ever more decentralized government at its core, with devolved powers being shared out amongst the regions and to those citizens who inhabit them. As citizens we may now be living in a 24/7 global world but this does not mean that our requirements and needs are the same the world over. During the Brexit campaign not only did I argue the case that the needs and requirements for British businesses and British citizens were different to the needs and requirements of French or German businesses and citizens, I would now go a step further. I would claim that the needs and requirements say for example of Cornish fishermen were different from those of the fishermen who work off the coast of the North East of England. But then surely, don’t the needs and requirements for all the Cornish people differ, if only slightly from the needs and requirements of their neighbouring Devonians? In some instances surely the needs and requirements of the Cornish living on the north coastline differ from the Cornish living on the southern coastline? Yet the centralized powers of Westminster would be incapable of differentiating from the needs of someone living in Exeter City to the needs of someone living in Mousehole. That is the problem. All life is viewed the same outside the London political “bubble”. There is London, then there is “other” to which the centralized political machine is utterly oblivious to.
So I now realize that even the discussion of devolving powers to the regions of East Anglia and the West Midlands is nowhere near small nor adventurous enough. The needs and requirements of inner city Birmingham and Warwickshire are vastly different to neighbouring rural Worcestershire. Indeed, Worcestershire offers a salutary lesson to all, especially those who favour centralized regional government. This is merely swapping one behemoth for multiple versions. Between 1974 and 1998 Worcestershire lost its “Shire”, becoming merged with Herefordshire. By and large this new “Hereford & Worcester” was a failure, letting down the people of both Shires. Even though they were neighbouring Counties, both largely rural at the time of being formed, the needs and requirements of both Counties were so different that there was disagreement at nearly every level and in every sector. During this period much of the discourse boiled down to which County had autonomy or rule over the other County and which County controlled the funds? Even though Hereford & Worcester was merged into a single County, they still saw themselves as two Counties in partnership, debating over which was superior to the other. On the one hand the centralized government of the EU believes that it can deal with every member state as if they were part of a single nation, and Westminster believes that it can deal with the needs of England as an entire entity; yet on the other hand two similar neighbouring Counties were ultimately incapable of successfully working together cohesively due to the differing needs and requirements of the authorities and citizens from both Counties.
Ultimately, I believe it would be far better to decentralize and devolve power to the level of Counties/Shires, each separate with their own sitting Assembly. Each elected member of this Assembly could be chosen either by using the old “Hundred” divisions in rural areas, or a set number of streets, or an estate for towns and cities. Each County/Shire Assembly Member would then be accountable, transparent and visible within their designated ward.
Best of all with this new tier of decentralized government, Assembly members would know the members of their ward on sight. At least at this tier of politics, it would bring an end to the party machine and party politics. Assemblies would be filled with independent, non-affiliated, non-partisan members, who would have no overall allegiance to either main party nor political leader. The archaic two-party system would be at an end at County level. No fear of de-selection from their chosen party, as party politics would be neutered from the grass roots at ground level. The real fear for members would be that of dismissal from the Assembly for performing below standard and not acting on behalf of the members of their ward.
If the centralized government of Westminster gave autonomous power to these County/Shire Assemblies, allocating funds to each County Assembly on an annual basis, they would then hold the sole responsibility of running that County on a day to day basis for the well-being of its citizens, while distributing those funds to the Local Councils and the NHS. Therefore, if the Assembly members were to misappropriate funds or, to show poor decision making when allocating funds, being a transparent visible face within the community, they would find themselves answerable to that community whereby they could face a hearing and ultimately dismissal so as a new member could be elected in their place. Holding onto one’s position would solely lay with the ability to effectively and efficiently perform tasks while being accountable to the local populous and their requirements at all times.
Say for example that a County Assembly is investing poorly in certain areas of the NHS where that investment is needed. Hypothetically, say there is a lack of investment in nursing care for the elderly in a County where the age of the population is much higher, where funds are being misdirected to another area of the NHS which that County is less effected by, then the electorate would be able to take those Assembly members to task and in due course have them removed to elect new members in their place.
These County/Shire Assemblies could also serve another purpose. Each Assembly could select a leader or representative who would sit in the House which would replace the House of Lords. Each representative would be instructed by the Assembly beforehand in which way to vote. Even Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could adopt this tier of politics and they too could dispatch Assembly members to sit in the new House. This new House would be comprised of Assembly Members who were independent and non-partisan, free of the machinations of the political machine of Westminster.
MP’s sitting in the House of Commons could concern themselves with matters of national security and defence, international affairs and matters that concern the nation as a whole. While the day to day running of the country, the policing, the health care, education and infrastructure could be left to be autonomously run and maintained by the local members of the County/Shire Assemblies. This way the majority of political and fiscal powers would be devolved to a County regional level. This would be the first time since the Magna Carta in 1215 where the people could claim to have a say in politics. For the first time in our history there could be a political system run by the British people, for the British people. Indeed, with a new House filled with representatives of these County/Shire Assemblies, by their very presence and transparent actions, they would neuter the level of power that is wielded by the Commons.
If County/Shire Assemblies had already been in place and if the electorate had to chosen to vote for Brexit candidates then the electorate would be all too aware at a local level of the popularity of that vote. County Assembly members could have been dispatched to their House with a mandate to vote Brexit through. That way the MP’s would have been completely aware of the amount of groundswell popularity for the leave vote and for Brexit. With a sufficient amount of pro Brexit Assembly members in favour of the referendum result, neither the dissatisfied remainers nor the MP’s would be in any kind of position or power to go against the outcome of the referendum. While all the time that popularity for Brexit would be transparent so there could be no redress or complaint from any side. Indeed, for many powers to be decentralized and devolved to County/Shire Assemblies, the most positive step to this smaller tier level of government would be the extra transparency shown towards the electorate. Ultimately, that can only be a positive step towards involving the electorate in the future of modern politics.
What are the chances of my generation bearing witness to such a political upheaval and to see the end of current partisan party politics? In reality, probably slim to none. Nor I doubt will the next generation, nor the one after that bear witness to such a change in our political system. After all, a turkey has never yet volunteered to vote in favour of Christmas!