While the politics of fear has so far gripped the campaign to remain in the EU, there is one shining beacon of hope left for anyone who believes in a principled debate around one of the most important decisions to be made in British political history: democracy. The lack of discussion around the issue is testament to the EU’s stifling affect on the democratic process within sovereign nations and the political imagination that once was found within them. The EU is undemocratic and the European Community the British public voted to join in 1975 is no longer represented by the technocrats who inhabit the European Commission, ruling over the Union of nations. What was once a trade agreement that strengthened the place and role of Europe collectively against developing economies, the United States and Eastern bloc, has become a Orwellian nightmare.
There are clear and present reasons why democracy has not featured. The EU has sucked the life out of the democratic process, preying on the death of political imagination, and the feeling of apathy that pervades is a symptom of the understanding that the technocracy of the EU has trapped us within an iron cage.
The fact of the matter is that the EU only had a very slim chance of succeeding as a political union. Representation runs at a rate of one MEP per 1.2 million people, for example. But this is not the main problem we can find with representation of the people within the EU. The foundations of a sovereign nation based on a shared history, common culture and language cannot be found in the EU, which give rise to a political imagination that can lead people to be inspired and show patriotism for their nation. Recent events in Greece and Spain only lay claim to this. Without an ability to present a common political narrative, pro-EU or deference-EU parties, were unable to win power. Instead of accepting defeat at the hands of popular consent of the people, the EU technocrats took a stranglehold of both nations, running roughshod over the political decisions that had been taken by the people of the two nations.
While trampling over the sovereignty of other nations, the EU doesn’t even uphold democratic values within it’s own institutions. MEPs have no right of proposal. They cannot represent the views and needs of their constituents through putting forward proposals for legislation which surely they have been voted in to do. While we complain, rightfully, about broken election promises and politicians lying at home, within the European Parliament elected officials cannot even represent their constituents. However, in a Union as diverse as the EU this would be practically impossible and the lack of political imagination within European politics does not help either.
However, this is what the European Commission wants. ‘Why listen to the plebs? Why take into consideration what ‘they’ want? For we know what’s in their best interests.’ This is the mentality of the Commissioners and this is, ultimately, why the Remain campaign can only employ fear as a campaigning tool. ‘We know what’s best’, is also their prevailing message in an age when their is no political imagination.
Although the Remain campaign goes even further. Not content with telling us plebs that we don’t know what’s in our best interests, nor have a way of understanding it, they present a future without the EU as one in which they are incapable of wielding power and acting in the best interests of Britain. Voting to leave will only leave us at the mercy of those countries that remain members of the EU, according to the cowards. Whether its claims of certain economic disaster due to being pushed adrift, our weak position when coming to renegotiating trade partnerships and deals, or the fear-ridden message that Brits living abroad in Europe will suddenly be unceremoniously sent packing, the Government presents itself as weak both in terms of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power. But, again, this has been an explicit aim of the EU to undo national sovereignty and sow the seeds of uncertainty, presenting Brexit as a step into the deep, dark unknown.
What we need now more than ever is political imagination. The political imagination to see the unknown not as a threat, but an opportunity. The opportunity to step into the unknown conceived of as a new place in which to forge a new future. Democracy can be chaotic and uncertain, but it holds the only real hope for individualism to flourish, placing responsibility back in the hands of every man and woman to direct their nation and be governed by popular consent. The EU cannot offer any of these.
I will be voting to leave on June 23rd with the hope that we can regain a political imagination that champions the individual, champions sovereignty and the rights of every individual to decide what is in the best interests of their own nation and for themselves.