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Ben Chu

Ben Chu has been a leader writer at The Independent since 2004. Before that he worked at the paper on the comment desk, letters department and the personal finance pages. He studied history at Jesus College, Oxford between 1997 and 2000.

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The real democratic outrage over the Lisbon Treaty

Posted by Ben Chu
  • Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 11:06 am
The conventional view on the re-running of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is that it is a democratic disgrace. "You delivered the wrong answer the first time - try again" etc. You'll hear that view from both the left and the right, pro-European Union and anti. But the conventional view, as so often, is wrong.
          The democratic disgrace is not the repeat of the referendum, but the practice of putting simple yes/no questions to an electorate in the first place. And two excellent articles have explained precisely why. The first is by Peter Kellner in last month's Prospect here (unfortunately not free). The other is by John Kay in the Financial Times this morning here. Both talk sweet reason. But can reason overcome the populist force of the cry "let the people have their say"?

Comments

Broken Manifesto Commitment
boudicca_icenii wrote:
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 03:34 pm (UTC)
'Sweet reason' as you put it is immaterial. ALL the major political parties went into the last General Election with a Manifesto Commitment that a Referendum would be held on the EU Constitution (which is exactly what the Lisbon ConTreaty is, except it is now deliberately unreadable).

If Labour didn't want to hold a Referendum and believed the Government should have the right to decide for the country, it should have had the guts to tell the electorate the 'sweetly reasonable' justification for NOT consulting them about the future sovereignty of their country.

Labour didn't have the guts - so instead it blatently broke a Manifesto Commitment and proved beyond a shadow of doubt that nothing in its future Manifestos can ever be trusted.

The so-called populist force of 'let the people have their say' should stand - because that is what the people were promised.
democratic disgrace?
dubsoundbwoy wrote:
Tuesday, 8 December 2009 at 01:35 am (UTC)
yo chu!

so your suggestion would be don't let the people have their say? really?
let those with the expensive educations and lifestyles decide what is best for the ignorant masses, eh?

i couldn't disagree with you more, the question is very, very simple;
do we want to retain our national and individual sovereignty or be part of a europe-wide bureaucratic totalitarian socialist nightmare;
do we want centralisation of power away from the people to whom it rightfully belongs;

yes or no?



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