by John Ward
Double-Dutch, Barmier Brussels, fulsome French politicians and the second coming of Silvio Bollocksconi are what makes the EU such a must in the future life of all right-minded Brits. But clearly, the main thing Europe can teach the UK is that referendums are never a good idea.
They just had a referendum about stuff in Holland. The Government lost. So now the Dutch Government is to introduce a law to ban referendums. A number of Opposition MPs say (and they aren’t just taking the piss) that the country needs a referendum to decide if referendums should be banned.
The idea seemed to be gaining ground, and so naturally the Government brought out the whip….thus, a narrow majority in the Tweede Kamer supported the government’s plan to abolish the advisory referendum; and there will not be a referendum on this abolition of referendums.
“The referendum will go into the trash because the government wants it”, SP parliamentarian Ronald van Raak said. “But the referendum is not for the government, the referendum is for the voters.”
In making that point, I think Ron captured the essence of this affair – which is that the government is being a terrible spoilsport with no sense of humour. After all, this could have turned the debate into something longer running than even London’s famous Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap.
To illustrate the point: the government bans referendums, than a referendum is held to see if the People agree about banning referendums, and they say they don’t. So then the Opposition proposes a referendum to insist that laws to oppose referendums should be declared unconstitutional. A Constitutional Conference is then hastily arranged by the government to see if referendums declaring any law unconstitutional are, as it were, constitutional. The guy chairing the conference is bullied by the Attorney General into saying they aren’t, so then the Opposition says let’s have a referendum to see if we agree with what Conference Guy says about referendums declaring any law unconstitutional being unconstitutional.
There are a million laughs to be had about this. In the light of the UK’s Brexit referendum, you can see why any “democratically elected” haha government would want to ban direct democracy. I too have my doubts about referendums. But I suspect they’re not the same as the Dutch Government’s.
Meanwhile, back at Brexit, Top EC Wally Michel Barnier has delivered a news conference speech in Brussels that makes Hitler’s Berlin Sportpalast effort of 1941 goading President Roosevelt seem like a model of dove-like restraint by comparison.
Forgetting momentarily that the UK is leaving the European Union, Micky Barmier-than-Most made this remark from his redoubt on the 9th moon of the Planet Lilliput:
“We cannot accept that a jurisdiction other than that the Court of Justice of the European Union determines the law and imposes its interpretation on the institutions of the Union, but the role of British judges will be respected. Without an agreement on governance, there will be no withdrawal agreement and so no transition period.”
It’s a comment that defies any form of parody, but I am always up for a challenge. Were he to be in charge of Eurovision, on the above basis Michel might argue as follows:
“Having examined the entries in the Russian Federation Song Contest, we cannot accept that a jurisdiction other than that of the Eurovision voting juries can do other than impose its supreme interpretation of what music is upon a Russian talent show that allows a song ludicrously entitled ‘Vee like Vladimir’ to win. Simply on the basis that there is no boom or bang or Israeli transgender singer to be seen among those responsible for this fantasy winner, we must insist that Moscow gives up all its nuclear and cyber music weapons, otherwise there will be no let-up in our sanctions upon Russopop policies”.
Monsieur Barndance went on to accuse Britain of “playing hide and seek” in the negotiations. Hide and Seek is a game in which the players in the game hide from the seeker. As the UK’s seekers seek, so to speak, to be not in the game any more, it seems odd that he wants those not playing the game to be subject to an ultimate Court of Judgement ruling solely over those still daft enough to be in the game.
Let’s not beat about the bush, what we need to sort this out is a referendum. The referendum will ask the following easy question dumbed down to allow even the most mistake-prone EU subject to give the right answer. My suggestion is this:
‘Do you want the European Union Court of Justice to rule upon all things inside and outside the European Union, or do you want these uppity will-o-the-wisp Brits to keep on playing games forever?’
That seems like a model non-directional and totally unbiased referendum question to me.
We had a lovely touch of Clochemerle here in my local village yesterday. Entirely as a result of the sound stocking policies and instinctive entrepreneurial marketing of my chum Valérie, the local grocery store has moved from the old original épicierie premises to a spanking new development in partnership with the town hall. It now looks and behaves like a proper grown-up supermarket, but with the feel of a village shop.
Because some public money had been invested in the project, the Mayor organised an official inauguration of the new building, and to improve his standing further in the community, he invited two politicians (one a councillor at the département prefecture, the other the local MP) to address an assembled crowd of locals. It is amazing how the ability of one citizen to get off her arse and produce something good for the community attracts the vote-catchers like bears to a honey-pot.
So anyway, the Mayor gave an introduction that went on a bit. Then the MP gave a speech that went on a lot. Then the councillor gave an address about how she was working hard to defend small retailers against les grands surfaces (the hypermarkets) that went on and on and on and on and on. Finally, the Mayor asked Valérie if she wanted to say something, but the power behind the pomp looked pointedly at her watch before politely declining the offer.
It was the most delicious example of how three politicians – all elected of course – had the time to blather and boast, whereas the real job-creator was far too busy doing to engage in talking. But it also put me in mind of the 100% assumption in England that electing the new Second Chamber is positively the only route on offer. As the House of Commons is a cesspit of whores – and elected officials are the same bloated blimps and showboaters in every State around the world – I fail to see why it wouldn’t be a good idea to have the new people helping to govern chosen in a different way entirely and then made to face election should they wish to continue.
People roll their eyes in horror when I suggest this, often adding that this would lead inevitably to “unaccountable oligarchies”. As this is precisely what we have now, the point is lost on me.
Maybe this is another chance for a referendum. I suspect it could be. But then everyone would vote for the New Lords to be elected, because they can’t think outside that particular box of tricks.
So a referendum it is, then. There’s nothing like a predictable referendum to cheer up an Establishment that agrees with the proposition on offer.
A court in Italy has just given a ruling of such patriotic largesse, we may rest assured that Italy’s problems are over: the former three-times PM, media mogul and longtime chum of Tony Blair Silvio Berlusconi is now eligible to seek public office again, after having his prison sentence for a tax fraud conviction slashed by 75%. Thus, Bunga-Bunga Man having served just under a year in prison (and given proof of good conduct during that time) the other three years of incarceration will now not be necessary. Englishmen called Tommy Robinson banged up for no good reason at all should not expect to get any similar change out of the British judiciary.
The tribunal letting Berluscrony off cited “prison overcrowding” as a prime reason for their decision, but I suspect they are just being either ironic or modest: Silvio the earnest Remainer fixer of Italy’s place in the euro is now free to pursue a political comeback when the Boot goes back to vote yet again – which will happen as and when the current coalition collapses.
The ways and means of keeping an Elmer Gantry Show on the road are many and varied, but they almost never involve referendums.
Enjoy your Sunday lunch.