Email of the day on disenfranchisement:
Comment of the Day

January 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on disenfranchisement:

business was based on, out of a whim? E.g. who told them to get out of the custom union? How dare them taking that prerogative?

The vote against the Deal is a gentle reminder to those people that the prerogative is with the parliament, thank you very much. I think this was another reason for the GBP to be up... a reestablishment of some normality in governance. Conversely, hijacking the country out of the EU seeking a no deal to deprive the parliament of its authority must be avoided at all costs, needless to say that; in that case I am sure the GBP would fall hard, and the citizens represented in that parliament (or investors relying on that governance) would be greatly impoverished.

Was it for gross incompetence or because of a conscious design to move towards an illiberal regime, I maintain that the referendum and the attitude of the government until now has represented a very substantial breach of trust in UK institutions. It will take a much more competent political establishment and some time to mend the damage that has been done.

Finally, I would be very wary of someone claiming the will of the people of Norway was overridden: the country is a perfectly well functioning parliamentary democracy. And it is in parliaments were the will of the people ought to be represented. This is a lesson learnt several times in human history, and usually the hard way. Let’s please never, not even for one moment, forget that.

Eoin Treacy's view

Thank you for this email which I’m sure will be of interest.

If you have a vote and your side wins you feel gratified. If your side loses you understandably feel disappointed. If you lose you can campaign for the decision to be overturned. That is your right in a liberal democracy and that right needs to be protected. However, it would not be correct to say that because you lost you have been disenfranchised.

On the other hand, if you win and the decision is not then acted upon then I believe you have just cause to feel disenfranchised since your right to self determination has not been upheld.

There are legitimate arguments about whether first past the post is the right way of dealing with such a momentous issue as whether to bring about the biggest economy and political change in decades. There are also legitimate arguments about the veracity of the claims made by both sides during the campaign. However, both of these issues while serious are the equivalent of semantics when we consider the right of self-determination. I don’t remember anyone complaining about first past the post before the referendum. I agree we need much higher quality of political institutions but that is totally reliant on people voting. If we look at the trend of political discourse however, I suspect it is going to get worse before it gets better.  

I’m a believer in referenda because Parliament is not wholly reliable in getting the best people into the best positions. If it really were a true reflection of the will of the people there would be no such thing as safe seats. However, citizens have the right to a fair and honest debate on the pros and cons of any question.

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