In Europe, we see a worrying number of crises that are taking place. We see the rise in the number of terrorist attacks in our own borders; we have witnessed the rise of extremist politics, the Far-Right on a disturbing upward trajectory in the form of Golden Dawn, Front Nationale and the Alternative for Germany and we have seen the emergence of a brand of left-wing populism in Podemos and Syriza. We see a Eurozone economy in continual stagnation where youth unemployment remains high as well real wages on the fall and we witness a migrant and refugee crisis that the European Union has absolutely zero answers for; at least that is what we think.
But they do. In fact, there is an age-old "truth" that the European Union wears on its chest and has done throughout its history; that of being in order to solve these very serious problems, further EU integration is an absolute necessity. The argument goes that because these issues are so severe, the only way forward is to continue shifting power from a nation-state level upwards to a centralised EU. I visited the European Parliament Visitor's Centre in Brussels two summers ago, and this apparent certainty and self-confidence it has in itself was manifested there, with the material repeatedly insisting that "the EU is the only way we will keep the peace in Europe".
The only sensible conclusion we can draw is that the EU has had a contempt for democracy for a long time and it is fairly content with doing business as usual.
But we are not seeing peace. As time ticks by, Europe is becoming a less peaceful continent with the emergence of extremism- Islamist and the Far-Right; in response to the Eurozone crisis, migration crisis and the inherent democratic deficit within the EU institutions.
The EU's answer to it all is to strengthen the democratic deficit even further. But we cannot. It is Brussels' contempt for nation-state democracy that has been a massive driver of the extremisms that I have wrote about thus far. The nonelected European Commission is the only body that can propose legislation, having power over our agricultural sector, taxation rules, immigration controls and how we spend our money; and it is explicitly not even instructed to represent the citizens of Europe or the member states- the Commissioner's task is to do what is best for the interests of the European Union.
In Greece and Italy, we saw the overthrow of democratically-elected governments, replaced by EU technocratic governments to try and improve its economy. It did not do so- and it all came with a political cost. Moreover, the Greeks voted for an anti-austerity party in Syriza and voted against any bailout deal, only to be then forced by the EU bullies into accepting vicious austerity and the bailout deal. And with all this, the only directly-elected body, the European Parliament still remains relatively powerless in the grand scheme of policymaking. The only sensible conclusion we can draw is that the EU has had a contempt for democracy for a long time and it is fairly content with doing business as usual.
Naïve "Europhiles" have become slightly desperate. They remain adamant that we can get back our democracy through "reform". But nobody is being fooled. The EU agenda is to further political integration and always has been. Viviane Redding, the Vice-President of the European Commission in 2014 was quite clear in her desire to form a "United States of Europe", i.e. a further shift of power away from local people to Brussels and Strasbourg. This aim, to have more integration is completely paradoxical with notions of democracy. When institutions enlarge, there is the expectation that democracy will be conceded and indeed it will.
But this outlook and underpinning ideology is moreover paradoxical with combating extremism, because ultimately, it does not empower local people to shape their communities and country. When local people want a change of government but whatever government is elected is ultimately constrained by the EU autocracy, frustration will always set in. When the EU tells the Greeks that they voted for the "wrong" option, so they impose their own government or their vicious austerity, anger will set in among the Greek demos. It is a very natural feeling, to want self-governance, for a right to choose who shapes their country. And in the absence of a European demoi, a dream that will not be achieved by the bureaucrats because of the massive diversity of language, culture and economy, this desire will always remain. Yet "liberal" Europhiles have always denigrated this view- describing it as a vicious nationalism or a xenophobia that has creeped into our politics, so the solution must be further internationalism. But no more. In June, the UK has an opportunity to reject this. It has an opportunity to reject the patronising and condescending rhetoric spouted by the liberal elite, that says your decision is not valuable enough to choose your own government. If you dare vote against the norms and the values of the EU, they will take measures to correct your decision. The principle of having a government who you and your fellow citizens vote for is a principle that should be supported by liberal democrats, conservatives, Marxists and social democrats alike, and this will always be under threat whilst being in a federally-driven European Union.
If we leave the European Union, it will be Members of Parliament who we elect that pass ALL legislation. Many may like the EU because it is a constraint on a Tory government. However, this could be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity referendum, and you should not expect a Conservative government forever. In fact, leaving the EU may mobilise opposition groups to unite against the government for it is easier to really strive for meaningful change, at the request of British people, to be able to vote out a government you don't like and vote in a government that pushes for an alternative agenda- whether that be on the Left or the Right. Of course, you can vote out governments and vote in governments every five years, but I am trying to stress that every Member State government is always constrained by the European Union. And it will also inspire other pro-democracy movements across EU member states to do the same and will put the brakes on the worrying rise of domestic extremism, for it will give European citizens the means to push for change.
Do not let the political class or others call you out to be bigoted just for the very reasonable request of wanting self-governance. And in particular, do not take it from Welsh and Scottish nationalists who believe in self-governance when it is divorced from the UK, a far more democratic family of nations than the EU, but do not when it comes to a potential Brexit.
For our democracy, and the UK is the greatest democracy on the planet despite some of the electoral unfairness, then we must vote to leave in June.
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