Thursday, 3 November 2011

Undemocratic Democracy

Well, here we go again.
The Greek Prime Minister may not have been making too many wise choices recently with regard to his country's finances but just the other day he distinguished himself. His call to give the Greek people a referendum on the latest Brussels-imposed series of swingeing austerity measures was like a breath of fresh air, and for two reasons. Firstly, because the Greeks ought to be given a voice. Their whole society is undergoing rapid and far-reaching change and it's only fair they should be consulted. But also secondly, and I feel far more importantly, because of the outcry it's provoked. Across Europe leaders of every flavour have been queueing up to denounce the Greek decision and say what a terrible idea it is that the people should be given a say in what their politicians are doing. One Radio 4 interviewee this morning expressed his fuming outrage at this "total lack of Greek support for the European project".
Interesting comment, that. The truth is that the European leaders do have a project and it's most inconvenient for them when democracy gets in the way. The Euro is a prime example. The Greek economic crisis is not a new thing, their economy has been in a mess for a good fifty years; they are vastly indebted, hardly anybody pays their taxes and their highly-paid public sector is vast and flabby. Anybody with half a brain could have seen the problems coming and that according to the figures Greece should never have been allowed into the Euro in the first place. But the figures were an inconvenience to the great European agenda so they were fudged, and here we are today. And it wasn't just Greece - several other nations were borderline cases for Euro membership too but were nonetheless triumphantly welcomed with much European flag-waving and booming recitals of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
Most European governments do everything they can to avoid consulting their people on anything concerning Europe, our own included. They always have, but in recent years their fancy footwork to sidestep referenda on Europe or the Euro makes Strictly Come Dancing look like the painful hobblings of an old man with a stick. And what about the referenda we do get? Think back a little and you may remember that the Irish voted 'no' to the Lisbon treaty in 2009, and what happened? They re-ran the vote! Imagine if our next General Election didn't elect the government those in charge thought best for us. What would we say if they discounted our choice and told us to keep trying until we see it their way? Over my dead body - but that's what Europe did in 2009 and the Irish government let them.
An isolated occurrence? I'm afraid not. The Danes voted 'no' to the Maasticht treaty in 1992 and that one was circumvented as well. No wonder then that the Danes were denied a referendum by their own government on the Lisbon treaty in 2007. Wouldn't want the Danes throwing a spanner in the works a second time, would we?
Europe, when it was formed out of the ashes of the second-world war, was a good idea with noble aims but where are those aims today? The current crisis is exposing just how undemocratic Europe has become and how far it has strayed from its original purpose, and it is also exposing some senior Eurpoean politicians for the duplicitous and self-advancing scum they are. Which ones? Well, why don't you listen to their own voices on the radio and the TV and decide for yourself?

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