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Democracy is as democracy does

Posted by Helen Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Commissioner Chris Patten, putative candidate for the presidency of the European Commission and a man who seems to know some European history, unlike the Prime Minister – he mentioned Agincourt and Waterloo as examples of non-agreement between England or Britain and France – seems to be a little unclear on the subject of democracy.

He has told reporters that he deplores Mr Blair's decision to call a referendum, as this would be a serious threat to parliamentary democracy. He then added rather opaquely:

"They [referendums] produce tabloid politics and they are opted for by prime ministers not to open up debate but as a way of closing down debate."

How touching of Mr Patten to care so much about parliamentary democracy. One wonders why he does not feel the same way about the fact that parliament has no right to reject legislation and regulations that are pouring in from the EU, each initiated by that very unparliamentary body: the Commission.