Wednesday, June 22, 2016

So About This Democracy Thing

Gotta love Brighton :)
I've heard some very interesting ideas about what the UK will be like if we vote to leave the EU tomorrow.  These seem to include pretty much everything that is on people's wish-list for a fairer society including: nationalisation and a super tax on the rich.  Folk who are on the left of the political spectrum seem to think that this referendum is a kind of super general election, that will make us all happier, less "restricted: and better off.  I'm really struggling to get my head around why people think this, so perhaps it's worth just going over a bit about how democracy works in this country.

Post EU we will continue to elect the UK government with our first-past-the-post system - which appoints the Members of Parliament to The House Of Commons.  This system (as I've mentioned before, and I've not been contradicted on this yet) favours the incumbent government, since they can change boundaries as they see fit.  This means currently we are looking at a majority Conservative government or a coalition of some sort.  I favour coalition, but it means trading off manifesto issues and tends to end up with lowest common denominator politics rather than great social strides, so I'll leave that to someone better qualified to explain.

Don't forget that our second legislative chamber is The House Of Lords, which is entirely unelected, so again favours the incumbent government since it appoints them.  That's right folks, we can't name them, didn't elect them and can't kick them out!

I think it's most likely that Cameron will resign following a Brexit, emboldened by their win the right wing of the Conservatives and Ukip members (who will go back to being Conservative) will demand a pro-Brexit leader to take them through the negotiations, stating that it's "the will of the British people".  This is likely to be Boris Johnson and please don't let anyone underestimate him, he's a very popular politician who will say pretty much anything to be PM - so he has the best chance (The irony that he will then be an UNELECTED leader of our country, hasn't escaped me).  There are still four years left on the term of the current government so that will cover the EU exit negotiations with a bit to spare.  Since nothing much will change in that time and anything that goes wrong Boris can handily blame on the pesky "faceless bureaucrats" (thank you Ukip for that lazy and derogatory term) in the EU I believe he will get another term of 5 years (that's up until 2025).

So how do we know what a post-EU Conservative government will do in the next ten or so years?  That's very easy, you look at their manifesto.  They will carry on with their own ideas, with renewed vigour since we are now free from "pesky EU interference".  In essence this will mean, for the time being, austerity.  This is basically cuts to services, including schools, policing, benefits and healthcare.  When possible they will endeavour to cut taxes for the rich and the middle classes, in the false belief that this benefits everyone - it doesn't, it benefits those who pay most tax, i.e. the rich and the upper middle classes.

The earliest that the Conservatives can make any changes to their manifesto will be in 2020, roughly the time that EU subsidies run out (the promise to keep them until 2020 is EU policy, they are promising what will happen anyway!).  Will increased subsidies for the poorer parts of the UK (notably Wales and the North-East) be added to their manifesto?  Perhaps, but I don't think so, I think that in the unlikely event that there is spare money it will go in tax cuts.  Austerity is likely to still be running (it's currently due to run until at least 2018) or, perhaps, being reduced (it could also increase if the economy sinks, but let's not get too depressed here), but this won't help the poorest regions quickly.   The same goes for farming subsidies: the EU is one of the few organisations in the world rich enough to pay farmers to manage their land as countryside even if they can't make a profit from it through farming.  I don't recall seeing set-aside subsidies on the Conservative party manifesto, but perhaps they'll add it in my 2020?  In the meantime once these subsidies are withdrawn farmers will have no choice but to sell off unprofitable parts of their farms.  What happens to it after then is up to whoever buys it.

I could go on here, but actually I will just re-iterate that in order to understand what post-Brexit UK will look like you need to read the major party manifestos.  This is NOT a General Election, you are NOT choosing who is in power tomorrow (it's the Conservative party) - you are only voting to remove what the EU gives us and for that I hope you will take a few minutes to read my previous Blog on this very subject.

A vote for real democracy is a vote FOR our continued membership of the EU - if you don't believe me, then please research how democracy really works in the European Union.  Oh, and if you don't know the name of your MEP - then effing well find out!  You can vote for them and you can lobby them for change.

PS For more about how EU subsidies are decided and who in the UK receives them, then this is worth a couple of minutes of your time.

PPS Dorian Lynskey has expressed this even more eloquently here.

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