This has been a very British coup

Prime minister Boris Johnson gives a speech at an event to announce the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest in central London on July 23, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)
Prime minister Boris Johnson gives a speech at an event to announce the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest in central London on July 23, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

From: Peter Webb, Glenleigh Park Road, Bexhill

I always enjoy reading Stephen Jackson’s letters. Even if I cannot always share his political views his commitment and vitality are the stuff that Operation Yellowhammers are made of. Until last week (6 September).

Stephen made three points which cannot go unchallenged:

1. “Which is it to be? Ballot box or the mob? Democracy or dictatorship”?

I’m aware of Stephen’s favoured answer (from his correspondence I believe he’s pro-Brexit) but I cannot work out his reasoning. The referendum was not fought through the “ballot box” – a term which only applies only to an election. The referendum was a plebiscite, not an election, and did not take place through the ballot box. Unlike an election it was advisory, took place outside any statutory framework, was not fought along party lines and could not be challenged in court.

“Mob” is a term which is often used in association with “rule” to signify the failure of an electoral system, breakdown in civil order, and lack of acceptance by the people of a dictatorial style of government, usually imposed by a dictator.

Personally, would prefer to live by the ballot box in a democracy.

2. “Remain refuse to accept the democratic decision of the people. If they succeed they will have set the most dangerous precedent of modern times.”

Now, hang on a bit there, Stephen!

Because only our regular elections, not our irregular referenda, are governed by Law, referenda do not have to adhere to any standards. Nor do their voting arrangements. Nor does their campaigning. This is why we saw the most deceitful porkies being told by the Leave campaign, eg, fraudulent advertising on red bus; long queue of “immigrants” curling their way towards the UK; all of Turkey (79 million people) planning to move to London.

What constitutes a “democratic decision”? I believe it’s one taken by the community, for the benefit of the community, in which everyone has a voice. And in order to properly analyse the results, this must be conducted on a fair and equitable basis, which the referendum most certainly was not. The referendum was not a democratic decision of the people. The binary question (stay/leave) was flawed, the campaigning was flawed, the voting was flawed, the financial backing was flawed. Democratic ideals cannot be served by the grossly imperfect 2016 referendum.

This being the case, it is an indisputable fact that the most dangerous democratic precedent in modern times has been set by the referendum which has been a very clever strategy waged against the British people by a tiny, extremely wealthy elite. Just look at the day-after-day anti-EU coverage spewed out by certain sections of the British press whose owners have millions to gain from Brexit. By 2010 the EU had recognised tax avoidance by the super-rich as a problem. In 2016 the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive was published which seeks to tackle the thriving culture of corporate tax avoidance.

From January 2020, the new law will require anyone with offshore accounts and investments to disclose them to enable full scrutiny so they can no longer get away with tax-avoidance and evasion. To these very rich folk it is imperative that we extract ourselves from Europe before 31 December 2019.

THIS is the most dangerous anti-democratic post-war precedent.

3. “Where is Huw Merriman in all this?”

Wondering what on earth has become of the Party for which he has stood in two elections, I shouldn’t wonder. He’s long been a committed Conservative and was President of the Durham University branch of the Young Conservatives 1994. What can he be thinking about Boris Johnson’s flagrant disregard for our democratic values, culminating in a five week suspension of Parliament? Can you get much more dictatorial than that?

This has been a very British coup.