Wednesday, 23 December 2015


I've long known of and admired Tony Benn's five questions, and in recent discussions on Twitter I've realised that they underpin the basic reason why I want Britain to leave the EU.  In case you need reminding, the quote is:
“The House will forgive me for quoting five democratic questions that I have developed during my life. If one meets a powerful person--Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler--one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.”
I can't answer the last two in relation to the EU.  I'm unsure of the third, although I have my suspicions as to whose interests they serve (hint: not the voting public).  But it is the last question that is the killer.  Much as I disliked Blair and Brown and feel disappointed in Cameron, I know what I have to do in order to eject them and (in the cases of Blair and Brown) did precisely that.  So while I may have disliked the fact that Blair was elected into a position of power over me, I accepted the process.  Jean-Claude Juncker is a different matter entirely; I had no say in his appointment and I have no way of expressing my dissatisfaction with his work.

So there, in a nutshell, is my reason for wanting to leave.  I want to live in a democracy. 

That overrules everything else.  Talk for as long as you want about trivia like whether migrants should wait 6 months or 4 years for in-work benefits, I'm not bothered.  I want to have a vote as to who exercises power over me. 

I can understand that leaving will be very disruptive, and potentially quite expensive.  Well, principles are expensive, but you have to get the basics right.  Issues like "are we a democracy" are part of the foundations of our political system; everything else is built on them and it is essential that we get them right.  In time, the benefits of secure foundations will show. 

(Footnote: you may wish to relish this post, in which I praise the utterings of a hard-left politician.  It doesn't happen often.  I disagree with much that Benn said and did, but on the subjects of democracy and parliamentary privilege he was spot on)