The Death of Democracy?

Leavers like to say that a referendum on the deal would be “the death of democracy”.  A stronger argument is that democracy, if it hasn’t been killed, has already been given a severe kicking.

The structure of the 2016 referendum was a poor, cobbled together affair voted through by parliament because of a lie.  In the face of considerable opposition to the referendum proposals David Cameron promised MP’s that they needn’t worry because the result would be advisory.  The result was the referendum structure and content was passed and immediately David Cameron announced the result would be binding.  Strictly speaking the referendum result is not binding legally but politically it is another matter….with alarming ramifications.

Lies;  Remain vs Leave

Leavers like to claim that there were lies on both sides, that the economy did not instantly tank and that therefore any leave lies can be ignored because there is parity.  Both sides lied so it cancels each other out.  It doesn’t.

The most one could accuse Remain of is lies of exaggeration….we did not go into instant recession (but on the other hand the Bank of England immediately released huge amounts of money to ensure that we didn’t).  If the treasury’s forecasts were overly pessimistic they remain more accurate than those of pro-leave Minford……and the trend they predicted is correct….ie down.

 

forecast wars

(Chris Giles, Financial Times, April 27, 2018)

Leave also had exaggerations too; and they were monsters!  Turkey was nowhere near entering the EU then and isn’t now.  An EU army requires unanimous agreement from the member states and though it has been pushed up the agenda (since Trump has shown America cannot be relied on and Russia is more bellicose) it still remains true.  If the UK as an EU member opposed an EU army we could have blocked it.

Leave additionally had lies of fact….lots of them.  Not just the infamous £350m on the bus (which some people still believe) but also polar bears…..

.polar bears

Tea….

tea

 

 

 

And of course geography, the implication being that we would be flooded with lots of brown faced, not Christian, potential terrorists…

turkey

A meme Nigel Farage used to great effect while ignoring that non EU immigration is nothing to do with the EU and is outside of Freedom of Movement

.breaking point

and who was supporting Brexit.  In fact Nissan, who supported Remain, sued Vote Leave – though by then of course the damage was done.

 

nissan

(Simon Goodley, The Guardian, 20th June 2016)

NOT JUST LIES BUT ILLEGALITY TOO.   Remain vs Leave

Remain:  80 transactions were found to be lacking adequate receipts and were fined £19,000.  The leaflet by the government, though contentious was legal because it was produced and released before the regulated period.  Arron Banks provided £12 million in services during this period too.

 

Leave: The electoral commission found that Vote Leave and BeLeave had coordinated their campaigns (illegal) and overspent by nearly £500,000 (illegal) almost all of which was spent with targeted FaceBook ads.  Vote Leave has been fined £70,000 and Darren Grimes of BeLeave £20,000.

A question mark also exists over the source of Leave funding.  Arron Banks donated more than £8 million but from where?  Banks is refusing to say (a weakness in UK electoral law) and the case has been passed to the National Crime Agency.  Russia is known to have meddled with Brexit and Arron Banks is known to have close links with Russia, including a rather suspect Russian diamond mine deal.

The summary is Remain has been fined for poor accounting.  Leave has been found guilty of breaking electoral law and there is a strong possibility that foreign funding (illegal) was used in the vote Leave campaign.

 

What About Democracy?

The irony is that were the referendum binding rather than advisory then the result would have been thrown out and the referendum re-run.  Whether the result would have been different had Leave not broken the law is a moot point.  The olympic sprinter who wins the race on drugs might well have won without them….but is still disqualified.

The situation is actually a very bad joke.  The high court accepts that there is  a legal case which could be made against vote leave and for an overturning of the result but said that it is now too late as the case would have to be put within 3 months of the expenses being lodged….except that no-one knew a crime had been committed then.  It’s rather like saying you cannot try someone for murder if the body isn’t found for a year.  Ridiculous.

Lawyer Jessica Simor explains to James O’Brien on LBC

 

A Second Referendum….Democratic or Not?

Given the illegality of the first referendum a vote on the deal is actually an opportunity to restore democracy rather than overturn it.  Cries to the contrary are, I believe, not based on concern for democracy but more because Leaver’s believe they might lose.  (One Leaver rather sweetly admitted this on the Leave.eu twitter feed).  Even leavers agree it’s a good idea…..or they did except they feel they might risk Brexit.  Jacob Rees-Mogg famously said a second referendum on the deal would be a good idea and David Davis said that nations are not democracies if they cannot change their mind.

Personally I think Leavers might be worrying too much anyway.  A recent survey found that 40% of voters think no deal and remain are the same, others still believe the £350m on the bus, still more think WTO will be just peachy (despite even some leave activists saying it will be a disaster).  The Leave group is back to spreading lies so even as a remainer I don’t regard a second referendum as a done deal…..it’s just the other options are worse.