Skulking off into the shadows

Date: Monday 7th January 2019

Sir, Eric Lamb is, of course, right when he suggests (Herald, 29th December) that I do not like the result of the second European referendum which overturned the result of the first one.

Neither of those referenda was binding on Parliament, which is the sovereign (i.e. ultimate and sole decision-making body) for the administration of the UK.

My concern over our current constitutional arrangements is that, as Lord Hailsham said, we live in an “elective dictatorship”. Once elected, a majority government can more or less do what it likes, simply by changing the law to suit its own purposes.

Our lack of a codified constitution and our antiquated electoral system make for confrontational and partisan politics that do not benefit the UK population as a whole — as is being demonstrated at this very moment.

The 2011 referendum on electoral reform was a lacklustre affair with only a 42 per cent turnout, Hardly a considered examination of the need for electoral reform.

We therefore still have a system which requires MPs to consider what is best for themselves, rather than what is best for the country. A factor that enables Mr Lamb to make his thinly veiled threat: democracy or demagoguery?

The referendum with its many false promises, downright lies, bribery, outside influence and misinformation has exacerbated the political divide and brought it into homes and social gatherings across the UK; all for the expediency of a divided Tory Party and made worse by an opposition leader who has skulked in the ideological shadows rather than offering positive support to those most likely to suffer from Brexit.

Mr Lamb’s paranoia that the stop Brexit campaign is somehow an anti-democratic conspiracy is, in itself, anti-democratic. Is he suggesting that this one moment in time (the referendum) should dictate that all debate over this hugely important issue should cease? And is that because he thinks he has got what he wants? More demagoguery, Mr Lamb?

John Maynard Keynes allegedly said: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” The facts have changed. The Government is vacillating, so perhaps another referendum is the only answer.

Personally, I would prefer Parliament to exercise its sovereignty in a judicious manner and withdraw Article 50. Then we can play an active and vigorous role in the future development of the EU rather than skulking off into the shadows. Yours etc,

SHAUN M. SILSON

By email