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All that is good for us.


WRITING IN THE Times on 4th June, Nick Clegg asserted that it was the moral duty of pro-EU MP’s to oppose Brexit. Public opinion remains split down the middle on the issue and this is despite the barrage of anti-Brexit sentiment and predictions of economic disaster expressed on the BBC and in much of the press.

Nick Clegg just doesn’t get it although he should by now. As deputy P.M. he presided over the near annihilation of his party. In the 2010 election the liberals unexpectedly won 57 seats. This dwindled to 8 in the 2015 election. Deservedly, Nick Clegg lost his seat. The loss of popularity centered on the Liberals dumping their manifesto promises, particularly their promise to scrap tuition fees.

Nick Clegg argued that they had to in order to form a coalition government with the Conservatives. The British public argued in the next election, that the Liberals couldn’t be trusted. Faced with a choice between power and honouring promises, the Liberals rushed headlong into power.

In a way this is funny. The small parties have a habit of attracting votes with populist promises in the sure and certain knowledge that they will never have to keep them. Now we know, that if they ever have to, they won’t.

When Nick Clegg discusses the EU he does so in tones of exasperated reasonableness, as if we, the people, weren’t good enough for democracy.

When Nick Clegg discusses the EU he does so in tones of exasperated reasonableness, as if we, the people, weren’t good enough for democracy. On this, he is in quite good company. The ancient Greeks thought much the same. Until recently, we didn’t have universal suffrage and even now we have a representative democracy designed to thwart the will of the people. The Swiss, on the other hand, have a system of referenda tilted in favour of what the people want. With relatively few signatures the Swiss can, and do, call referenda, on any issue, to repeal or introduce and at every level of government. As a result, Switzerland is a well run country largely in harmony with itself.

I lived in Switzerland and saw that, because the people can actually decide, issues are carefully considered and sensible decisions are taken. Switzerland’s association with the EU, puts this system of democracy at risk, where EU edicts can override the will of the people.

This then is the battleground. Power has steadily been wrested from individual nations and concentrated in the EU Commission and Council of Ministers. The people of Europe don’t like this much more than the British do. It is not as though Brussels is giving us a healthy diet of economics and social justice. Policies on migration and the Euro have been ruinous for some nations. It is about time we all followed the Swiss and allowed the people to decide.

Nick O’Hear is chairman of Tension Technology International, Ltd., based in Schoonhoven, The Netherlands.

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