Cameron’s style of democracy

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We live in a time where a British Prime Minister risks British lives and spends British taxpayers’ money supporting democracy around the world.

We also live in a time where a British Prime Minister publicly acknowledges that the British people are simply not to be trusted to determine their own destiny through a democratic mandate via the Mother of Parliaments.

Mr Cameron has sought to warm us to his concept of the Big Society to empower and enable the people; he also agreed that parliament would consider and debate issues of import when there were 100,000 signatures requesting that it do so.

Well, the people listened, the people deliberated and they got to work; collecting over 100,000 signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should be in or out of the European Union

Why does it now appear that Mr Cameron is outraged with the British people for having the temerity to expect democracy and more importantly, why are the people not more outraged that he has the temerity to ignore the rising voices calling for a say on our relationship with the European Union before we are unable to leave – this little bit in the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty kicks in around 2015-16.

I have no doubt that when he was a public schoolboy, Mr Cameron was made fully aware that the point of a debate is to review a subject, by considering and verbally thrashing it out to reach a winning conclusion. How ironic that competitive debates were modelled around the British parliamentary processes, while the prime minister tells his ministers to ignore any rationale but his dictate.

Mr Cameron expressly instructed the government (Liberal Democrat and Conservative) to pay no consideration to the merits of this debate and to vote against a referendum on EU membership; I would ask on what pretext he might claim that parliament has met his promise to debate.

It is difficult to see how anyone can claim to represent their constituents in the House of Commons with a closed mind. I raised my concerns with the Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, as my MP; he advised last week that he had already decided to vote against the motion (as per the government position). I will also follow how David Mundell votes with interest as part of his constituency is expected to merge with Mr Moore’s at the next general election.

In the farce on a debate for the in-or-out motion, the Liberal Democrats again show that they are neither liberal, nor democratic. Consider that the Liberal Party website maintained the promise of support for a referendum on the EU until three days before the debate. This promise arose when the party abstained during the previous Labour government’s bill to approve the Lisbon constitutional treaty; despite yet another manifesto promise that they would fight for a referendum on any constitutional document.

However, in the debate, they will not have considered its merits or their promise to support democracy on an issue they supported on their website a few days earlier.

If this contempt from our elected representatives does not tell the people of Great Britain that all pretence of democracy ended this week, nothing will. As our elected representatives continue to promise the world as easily as they deliver contempt for those who expect them to stand by their promises, patience wears thin.

The philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus observed: “The people must fight for their laws as for their walls.”

It would seem that even in our times, to retain a right to democracy, self-determination and sovereignty, we will need to fight for it; Mr Cameron should take note that we will continue our fight.

Steven McKeane

Galashiels