So runs the argument of increasingly prominent anti-EU Tory, Daniel Hannan MEP – still advocating a UK referendum despite the final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
This is, of course, very true. Since the 1975 referendum on EEC membership, the British people haven’t had their chance to vote on being part of the EU system.
But when was the vote on constitutional monarchy, an established Church, Cabinet government, a two-chamber parliament, parliamentary sovereignty, a supreme court, the first past the post voting system, our membership of NATO, the UN, the WTO, etc. etc. etc.?
Why the insistence on a public say in one (really rather small) part of the UK’s governance, but not all the rest?
Why the complaints about the unelected European Commission, but no murmurs of dissent about how no one in the Cabinet is elected to that post? (Not to mention the UK civil service…)
Why the complaints about lack of democracy in the EU when the House of Lords remains unelected?
Why the complaints about EU law when most domestic legislation is passed via statutory instruments without so much as a glance from an elected official?
Why the hysteria over the largely powerless Presidency of the European Council, when Her Majesty the Queen retains the right to dissolve parliament and veto any legislation, whenever she likes?
How about, in other words, we put our own house in order before preaching about governmental perfection – and how about we stop with the double-standards? Want the people to have a say in how they’re governed? Fine. Let’s give them a say in all the other areas as well.
But don’t abuse referenda – generally reserved purely for extraordinary constitutional changes – for party political purposes. That way lies the destruction of the very system of government that the EU’s British opponents profess to hold so dear.