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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tony Benn on the Death of Democracy

The BBC reports on Tony Benn's speech on the EU constitution:

"If this goes through Gordon Brown will not be the prime minister of Great Britain, he will be the mayor of the Greater British Authority".
Benn said power should be restored to nation states to opt out of the treaty if their people wanted it.
He said he feared the "death of democracy" in a wider sense - with the increasing dominance of unelected bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and multinational corporations.
Even Labour's own conference, which has voted to end emergency motions proposed by delegates and trade unions, had stifled democracy, he added.

Of course Benn is right. Democracy is under threat everywhere we look. Over the last twenty years or so, more and more powers have been surrendered to unelected bodies, such as the WTO, the IMF, the EU Commission, the World Bank and last, but certainly not least to multinational companies and financial institutions. Restoring these powers back to the nation state is an urgent priority: national sovereignty matters not because we are nationalists, but because we are democrats.

There's more on Tony Benn's speech over at Charlie Marks's excellent blog.

1 comment:

David Lindsay said...

Such a referendum would deliver a Yes vote. In 1975, the federalists managed to convince two thirds of the electorate that they were merely voting for “a free trade area” called “the Common Market”, even though the first clause of the European Communities Act was, and is, a textbook definition of a federal state.

This was achieved by persistently putting up Tony Benn and Enoch Powell to state the case for a No vote. Most people voted instead for the position espoused by politicians with whom they felt more comfortable. The same thing would happen again.

Powell’s place would be filled by that nasty fringe which holds his economic views untempered by his romantic Toryism. Such would be the sole No campaigners on at least two out of every three, and quite possibly three out of every four, programmes. The rest of the time, Benn would be back. No Ian Davidson. No Frank Field. No Kate Hoey. Just Benn occasionally, and the Genghis Khan Institute the rest of the time.

For good or ill, even fewer people would identify with Benn now than in 1975. And do even tribal Tories, never mind anybody else, believe in unrestricted immigration to feed unbridled capitalism? Or the total deregulation of alcohol, gambling and pornography? Or the legalisation of drugs and prostitution? Or the wholesale privatisation of health, education and pensions? Or the abolition of farm subsidies?

“Well, then,” the federalists would say, “what makes you think that you agree with these people about this, and this alone? Their position is coherent. It all fits together. And your views don’t fit into it at all. Vote Yes, if only because they want you to Vote No.” And people would.

Instead, Parliament should do its duty by throwing out the Constitreaty without any need for a referendum. Not least, the unions should be refusing to fund any MP who does not vote in Parliament both against the Constitreaty and in favour of securing workers’ rights (among other things) through the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and should instead be undertaking to fund alternative parliamentary candidates who will do both of those things.

For we don’t need the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, we need a proper party like Labour of old, dedicated to just that: securing workers’ rights (among other things) through the Parliament of the United Kingdom.