Monday, March 03, 2008

Give us a referendum …

Obviously taking a cue from the Greenie protesters last week, two demonstrators have scaled a large crane in Parliament Square overnight, to unfurl a banner demanding a referendum on the constitutional Lisbon treaty.

Compared with the coverage given to the Greenies, however, reports are few in number, the main source being this Reuters' report. This tells us that police were called to Middlesex Guildhall at 2 am after reports that protesters had unfurled banners at the top of a large industrial crane.

The report is also carried by The Daily Telegraph though, but it is from this report that we learn that the crane is sited at Middlesex Guildhall on the south west corner of Parliament Square, and that the building is being renovated in preparation for its use as the new "Supreme Court" from autumn next year.

The irony of this is obvious. Whatever it wants to call itself, this institution is no longer our supreme court. That resides in Luxembourg, rejoicing under the highly misleading title of the European Court of Justice. It isn't a "European" court but one of the institutions serving our supreme government in Brussels, making it the European Union court. Of course, it has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with political integration.

Anyhow, the demonstration makes the leader in The Daily Telegraph rather apposite. It comments on yesterday's mini referendum result, noting:

Not for the first time, the political class has been caught off guard. The consensus was that nobody much cared about the European Constitution (now the Lisbon Treaty). The campaign for a referendum went largely unreported. Ours was the only newspaper to cover last week's lobby of the House of Commons.

Elsewhere, five demonstrators on the roof of the building were considered more newsworthy than thousands of concerned citizens queuing politely beneath. Meanwhile, the fact that 10 constituencies were casting representative votes for the rest of us was chiefly ignored.

Well, it can't be ignored now. The results are astonishing, and have left opponents of a referendum opening and closing their mouths like Appalachian mountain men.
Well, it can be ignored – as will be today's demonstration. But what all these activities have done is put down a marker. The have exposed for all time that which we knew already – that the European Union, and this treaty, has not one shred of democratic legitimacy.

Furthermore, the mini referendum has confirmed that which we already knew: the main reason this government does not want a referendum is because, if it did allow one, it would lose it.

However, governments can ignore the wishes of the people for so long before they, the people, extract their revenge. We know not how we will do it, or when, so the only promise we can offer is that we will. There are few certain things in politics, but that is one of them.

Thus, the message could not be clearer: give us a referendum … or else!


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