Thanks Caroline -- interesting food for thought.
Whilst I did note above that the Tories are as confused as anyone else -- and certainly more so than the Lib Dems -- I wholly agree with you about Labour. Corbyn has done precisely what Cameron and May did, yet with even less credibility. He has bizarrely waffled on Brexit (first avidly for Brexit, then limply against it, then again avidly albeit incomprehensibly for it), and has wholly sacrificed long-term UK prosperity to a fantasy of party unity even less plausible than Cameron's or May's.
I also agree with your reference to "the majority
of the British people", although I draw conclusions very different
from yours. Brexit has been a textbook example of wholly confusing,
indeed wholly collapsing democracy into brute majoritarianism, into
crude populism -- the opposite of how every other mature democracy in
the Western world was ever designed to work (as particularly evidenced
by the utter slenderness of that "majority", which in no other advanced
democracy could ever effectuate such far-reaching change).
Indeed, if there's a difference between genuine democracy and paltry populism in your account, I hope you'll point it out. Anyone with a megaphone can be a populist. You reiterate Gary's original dichotomy between "the people" versus "the elite" which has certainly supplied perky soundbites throughout whole process, but, as I explained in my second posting, have no meaning at all in terms of what the Brexit referendum is or does. So I repeat: a genuine democratic vote explains what change the voter would be voting for, and not merely some abstraction from what the voter is voting against.
I see no problem at all with a second referendum -- the Brexiters wanted democracy, no? Since when does democracy say: "Ok, now the deliberation stops!" What I'd like this time is a genuinely democratic referendum which makes clear to the voters all options in express terms, as opposed to the leap into the dark that was offered last June.
Yours still undaunted,
Many thanks Caroline --
One point of at least partial agreement. You write that, "before the vote, very few people kicked up a fuss about having it. Cameron, Corbyn, and Sturgeon presumably thought the British people would vote to remain, so they allowed it to go ahead."
course, many people did kick up a fuss. Many pro-Remain politicians
and experts signaled loudly and clearly the dangers of populist
adventurism at the polling stations, given the incalculable consequences
of Brexit. You're right of course that party leaders ignored those
warnings, though certainly not motivated by the country's best
interests. Cameron wanted to unify the Tory Party and Sturgeon was only
ever eying independence. As for Corbyn, would he even know how to
manage the budget of your local Frisbee team?
-- only partial agreement on your view about a second referendum.
First, from a legal standpoint, let's be clear. There is absolutely no
way any government can foreclose future legislation simply by tossing
around brochures with the inscription "This is your last chance,
folks!". Indeed what is even meant by "generation"? Does the present
"generation" end, say, at 4:36 am on Christmas 2028? Or 5:28 pm on St
George's Day 2043? Only in British politics could so many people take such a
gesture to be anything more than empty rhetoric. If final and
definitive law could be made simply by the government in power passing
around leaflets -- phrased in such open-ended terms -- Her Majesty's Stationery Office would be busy indeed. There is no such thing as irreversible legislation, except maybe in North Korea.
if your real point is about PR, namely, that the public would simply
resent it -- "Keep voting until you deliver the result we want" -- then,
yes, that's a plausible and a weighty objection. I'm tempted to
propose a Referendum About Having Another Referendum, simply to punish everyone for their stupidity.
You and I do probably agree, then, on the most important point. Ultimately, this all remains in Parliament's hands, including what I believe could be a wholly compelling and wholly dignified withdrawal of the Article 50 declaration. That's why I continue to insist on the democratic illegitimacy of the referendum. That point needs to be repeated as often as necessary, so that if Parliament does face an overriding case against exiting, then perhaps it can change course with greater confidence of the electorate.
Yours with trust eternal in the forces of boringly sober moderation,