Those readers who have also been following Dr Richard North’s developing theme of Referism over at EU Referendum may remember his original post on the subject early in May.
In his piece, Richard made reference to a piece by David Cameron in the Barclay Brother Beano in April 2010 titled ‘My credo for my Country‘. Cameron’s piece is insightful as he underlines in his own words the fact that this country suffers a democratic deficit. Cameron actually validates the need for people to take back power from the insular, self regarding and self serving political elite. Consider these words from Cameron’s op-ed:
Thankfully, the gods were smiling on me that night in June 2001 and I was elected MP for Witney. Barely a week later, my party leader resigned and I found myself being canvassed by this paper on how to revive the fortunes of the Conservative Party following its second defeat at the hands of Tony Blair.
The party has to change its language, change its approach, start with a blank sheet of paper and try to work out why our base is not broader,” I told the reporter, with what was, looking back, alarming confidence for someone just starting out in Parliament. “We need a clear, positive, engaging agenda on public services.”
Did you notice what was missing? In describing what he felt the Conservative Party needed to do to revive its fortunes (i.e. win a General Election) nowhere did Cameron say anything about asking the people what they want.
This is not an example of representative democratic politics. Cameron knew then as he knows now that once safely in office there is no need to pretend to consult the people and seek to follow their wishes, hence his autocratic and arrogant pronouncements on issues such as the EU. As Prime Minister he presides over a Cabinet Government (junior to our EU government) that can basically do what it likes (within EU law and bureaucratic control) domestically until the next election. There is no need to refer to the electorate. That is why Referism matters.
Cameron went on to add:
Believe me, I’ve had some run-ins, but I never wanted to annoy party stalwarts or pick unnecessary fights. I just knew that unless we got in touch with the modern world, we would not get the chance to bring our beliefs and values to bear on the challenges of the hour.
Therein lies the problem. It’s all about internal party spats, control and personal agendas. In a referist system there would be no need to talk of getting ‘in touch with the modern world’ because politicians would have to listen actively and continuously to the wishes of the people before embarking on activities that require the spending of our tax pounds.
The political class would know our views, our concerns and our priorities and it would have to react to them and present plans to address them. Cameron rounded off his pre-election pitch thus:
So, I have the team, I have the ideas, I have the values and I have the energy to show you, to show Britain that a better future for our country is not only possible but is just weeks away.
Sadly what he did not and still does not have is a pair of ears, or a desire to listen to our wishes and take heed of them. Power must be wrested away from the political class and they returned to their proper role – that of servants, not supposed masters. Until we have the power and politicians are required to refer to us to seek our approval for their legislative and governance agenda this country will not be democratic.