Friday, 3 November 2017

Following the mob

On Wednesday, one of Wales’ former governors, William Hague, told us that he could not and would not support a second referendum on Brexit, because any such campaign would be ‘divisive and hate-filled’, even though he still believes that leaving the EU with no long-term deal in place – the favoured option of many of his political colleagues, and the outcome looking increasingly likely – would not be a good outcome.  It’s is clear that he believes that ending up with a poor outcome is better than the likely impact of a second campaign because of the way that campaign would develop.
In fairness, I think his fears about the nature of the campaign are well-grounded.  We’ve already seen the very ugly side of British nationalism at its worst on display in some of the tabloids – calling judges enemies of the people, and labelling opponents as traitors.  And that’s quite apart from the upswing in random racism and discrimination against foreigners.  I don’t doubt that it would get much worse than that in the event of any attempt to change direction, even if the condition which I’ve talked about before were to be met (i.e. evidence of a significant and sustained change of opinion). 
Notwithstanding that the promises made by the Leavers during the last referendum have been exposed for the lies that they were, and notwithstanding the increasing hard evidence of the impact of trying to implement that decision in a short timescale, any attempt to give the people a chance to express a different opinion would be fought tooth and nail by those who support Brexit, and we already know that truthfulness would be unlikely to feature in their response.
But here’s the question which Hague and others who take that stance need to answer: if it were to be clear that opinions had changed, and if it were to be clear that a change of direction would be in the best interests of the UK, would you really argue that we can’t have a second chance because those who ‘won’ last time round would use divisive and hate-filled tactics to try and repeat their victory?  Isn’t that at least a little bit like surrendering to mob rule?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I entirely agree with your comments here. And I hope you will remember such should Scotland or Wales vote for independence one day only to realise the immaturity of such a decision the next day.

Nothing should ever be set in stone as we have seen in Spain recently. Catalunya was independent for a matter of minutes but then the people came to their senses.


John Dixon said...

"I hope you will remember such should Scotland or Wales vote for independence one day only to realise the immaturity of such a decision the next day" The fact that you chose to spoil a perfectly sensible comment by labelling a decision as 'immature' is the only part of this with which I would disagree. As I've argued before, ALL boundaries and states are, by their nature, transitory, and all decisions taken by people on their future are open to change. And it would be inconsistent of me to argue that a decision to seek independence should be any more immutable than any other decision. I would say, though, that history isn't on your side here; there isn't exactly a whole heap of precedents for countries deciding to be independent and then changing their minds.

"Catalunya was independent for a matter of minutes but then the people came to their senses." A rather sweeping assertion there, methinks. The 'independence' didn't come to an end because the people changed their minds; the evidence is, on the other hand, that the majority for independence would be higher now than it was before the vote on 1st October. A nationalist and centralist government using its power to disband a duly-elected parliament can in no sense be interpreted as a change of mind by the people who elected that parliament.

Huw Meredydd said...

(I agree with you JD on Catalunya, by the way)

The (UK) Government, once it sees that there has been a clear change of heart on the part of the majority of the British electorate should do what David Cameron should have done in the first place - establish a Royal Commission to gather evidence on how the matter should move forward - remember Crowther, Kilbrandon, etc. - whihc it should really have done before the referendum, and on any constitutional matter - seeing as the UK has no constitution (in order to allow the Establishment to divide and rule as it always has done - but that's another story).

Leaving the EU would still be perfectly possible and the Commission might look at the mechanisms, the timetable, the committments to future spending, etc. etc. I suspect that they would come to the conclusion that the cost would be extreme and well beyond what the state and individuals could afford or be willing to pay. Essentially a choice between keeping the NHS and leaving the EU.

People should stop talking as if leaving the EU is inevitable - it is not. Most people now see the dog's dinner that it is, but keep hearing talk aboout "when" we leave the EU. We aint going anywhere anytime soon.