"Whenever the legislators endeavour to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."
John Locke (16321704)
The subject has reared its head yet again amongst MPs and political commentaters with the forthcoming debate this afternoon in the House of Commons on the European Union Bill. It has to be said that I am, like it is believed so many others, totally bemused by the attitude of so-called Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and those commentaters on Conservative Home.
John Redwood, for example, writes in the Time (£) - which due to the paywall means I am reliant on the extracts pubished by Open Europe in their press summary today - and states:
"Sovereignty will only ever effectively be reasserted when a government seeks to repatriate powers from the EU........While Parliament debates sovereignty in the abstract, it is ignoring momentous events on the Continent…The EU’s need to strengthen its economic governance of euroland offers the UK an important negotiating opportunity. The EU will need the UK’s consent to any treaty change or major transfer of powers…What better demonstration of British sovereignty could there be than repatriating powers?"
and comments on his blog:
"If Parliament can make and unmake laws, raise taxes and spend them without interference from the EU or judges, then the people are sovereign, because they can dismiss the Parliament in elections and influence it between elections through the pressure of public opinion. If the EU and judges can now make law against Parliament’s wishes, or by ignoring Parliament, then the people have lost that control they should exercise through the pressure of public opinion and the votes of elected representatives."
Paul Goodman writes on Conservative Home:
"I believe that there are amendments which could usefully be made: for example, why shouldn't the Commons, rather than Ministers, decide which future transfers of competences should be put to the people in a referendum?..........Many want to see the repatriation of powers, and liked the three proposals to do so in the Conservative manifesto. They'd therefore prefer a referendum on a repatriation of powers package to a poll on a binary In/Out proposal. However, the renegotiation proposals were dropped as part of the Coalition Agreement, and my impression is that most Conservative MPs will go along with this, however reluctantly, as part of the price of sustaining the Coalition."
If John Redwood believes that if the EU and judges can now make law against Parliament’s wishes, or by ignoring Parliament and that results in the people having lost that control they should exercise through the pressure of public opinion and the votes of elected representatives, then how can he be content with the repatriation of certain powers? Either this country 'repatriates' all powers, ie leaves the European Union, or not - there is no half-way house. For Redwood to state, as he does on his blog, that he will vote for the strongest formulations on offer, as he does believe we need to strengthen democratic accountability here at home, beggars belief - unless of course Redwood no longer considers himself a Eurosceptic?
Paul Goodman also appears to have 'lost the plot' with his suggestion that many Conservative, supposedly Eurosceptic MPs, would like to see the repatriation of certain powers and that most Conservative MPs will vote at the third reading to let the Bill pass. Like Redwood, Goodman and those Conservative MPs just do not appear to realise that repatriation of powers just isn't going to happen. Why would the EU, whose stated aim is ever closer political union, allow a member state to take back powers that it, the EU, has taken in the first place? It would open the floodgates with other member states wishing to do likewise and initiate a faster break-up of the European Union than any failure of the eurozone could do.
Goodman also seems content that MPs should hold the power to decide on what the people should be allowed to have a refendum, when he writes that the Commons, rather than Ministers, should decide which future transfers of competences should be put to the people. Yet more central control on top of that that government and MPs have. What does it take to get into their tiny minds the fact that it is for the people to decide their own future and not those with vested interests who, at the same time, ignore the will of those they are supposed to represent?
Is it any wonder that Cameron and his left-of-centre herd of sheep have sunk so low in the latest opinion polls? Is it any wonder that politicians in general are despised? Is it any wonder that eventually the people may well - albeit in a peaceful, or otherwise, manner - emulate the example set by the students?