Sir Austen Chamberlain, speaking about Germany's violation of the Treaty of Locarno, remarked: "It is not so long ago that a member of the Diplomatic Body in London, who had spent some years of his service in China, told me that there was a Chinese curse which took the form of saying, 'May you live in interesting times.' There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us."
83 years later the curse is upon us again. In the 1930s, a burgeoning empire threatened to engulf the European continent. It sought to impose, by armed force, its perverse model of government in which democracy played no part.At the beginning of the 21st century, we are faced with an organisation determined to impose its belief system on the European Continent. Driven by overweening ambition, it has ignored and subverted democracy. It seeks to achieve its goal of total hegemony through economic means, although it is planning to create armed forces too. In common with former European Empires, the EU has no democratic mandate. No one was ever asked if they wanted to be a citizen. Well, more precisely those that were, voted no and their democratic votes were ignored. Empires and democracy are mutually exclusive systems.
Britain was never comfortable as a member of the Common Market and increasingly less so as it has morphed into the EU. No truthful observer can doubt that would not have stayed as long as we have, if Heath and Wilson had not lied to us. In response to overwhelming democratic demand Cameron's conservative government agreed to hold a referendum. Something that both major parties had previously promised. As Philip Hammond made clear when, as Foreign Secretary, he introduced the referendum bill's second reading, "This is a simple, but vital, piece of legislation. It has one clear purpose: to deliver on our promise to give the British people the final say on our EU membership in an in/out referendum by the end of 2017." Recognising that democracy had been ignored he added, "For too long, the people of Britain have been denied their say. For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This Bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised." Fine feathers make fine birds, but sadly fine words do not necessarily make honest politicians.
Cameron renegotiated our terms of membership and his "Deal" was put to the country at the referendum. It's a fact that those who claim the need to vote on a deal have worked hard to airbrush from history. During the referendum campaign, government ministers and those backing remaining in the EU made it clear that it was the people's decision and that their decision would be implemented. They also indulged in a propaganda blitz that would have Goebbels dancing a jig. Threats ranged from economic Armageddon to people dying from a shortage of drugs. Despite the threats, the country rejected Cameron's deal and voted convincingly to leave. The elite was shocked, horrified, a prime ministerial resignation and then more fine words from the new regime. But, beneath the surface, supporters of the EU plotted and waited.
Project fear returned and, aided by the media, an insidious campaign got under way to overturn democracy. Despite voting overwhelmingly for the referendum bill, triggering Article 50 and being re-elected on a promise to honour Brexit, many Tory and most Labour MPs joined the anti democrats of other parties in a war of attrition. None of the blood curdling threats has come true, but the pro EU factions persist in their loyalty to Brussels. Like the religious elite of 16th and 17th Europe they cry "Blasphemy" when confronted with rational arguments they cannot refute with fact or logic. Michael Servetus and Galileo Galilei would instantly recognise the blind obedience this 21st century band of zealots display.
Our democracy, like our law, depends on consent. We consent to laws, we consent to be ruled, and the losers in an election consent to the democrat majority's decision. A new force, a majority in Parliament, claiming to be "Liberal" has developed the idea that consent is a one-way street. Because they know best because anyone who disagrees with them is variously, old or stupid or ill educated the only valid consent is that which agrees with them. For them, democracy is a dictatorship by the self-appointed intelligentsia.
MPs are paid; they are elected on party manifestos and accept the discipline of the party they belong to. Most people do not vote for a person, they vote for a party and, if their party is successful, they expect their MP to support the government and deliver their commitments. Without the party machine, it is doubtful that any member of the current parliament would be an MP. Despite this obvious fact, ignoring the people's democratic will becomes for the 'Liberals' "Respecting parliamentary democracy."
This is the crux, who is supreme the people or parliament? According to Dicey, writing in 1885, "The King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons: these three bodies acting together may be aptly described as the "King in Parliament, and constitute Parliament." Further explaining, "the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament." It is upon this and similar interpretations of our unwritten constitution that MPs claim absolute right. When Dicey wrote, The Crown still had real influence, the Lords were an unelected chamber dependent on inheritance and wielding power and the Commons, although evolving, were not yet elected by universal suffrage. Times change and the one outstanding element of Common Law is that, as facts change, law evolves to represent and reflect the changes.
The Crown is now a figurehead, the Lords, their power severely curtailed, are a repository of political patronage. Power rests in our society with the party that can command a majority in the Commons. Those MPs now seeking to overturn the democratic decision they asked the people to make clutch at a 134-year-old treatise to justify their actions. I do not claim to be a lawyer, but I do agree with Edmund Burke who wrote: "Your subjects have inherited this freedom, claiming their franchises not on abstract principles as the rights of men, but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony derived from their forefathers." In a majoritarian democracy, parliament's rights are dependent entirely on the sovereign rights and will of those who elect them. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns." This is self-evident. The people for each parliament elect MPs. They are MPs only because the people have willed it.
Since we joined the Common Market, MPs have successively given away our rights and freedoms. They have attempted to contradict a basic tenet of our constitution that no parliament can bind its successors. They have outsourced the jobs they were elected to perform. Ignoring those from whom their power is derived, they prefer the interests of the EU. By claiming supremacy over the people, they undermine democracy, the very nature of our country. They claim they have the right to reject a democratic vote by the people. Effectively, they claim the right to impose a dictatorship. This leads to the real question at the heart of the Brexit issue. If MPs believe they have the right to ignore democracy, where does that belief lead?
Hiding behind Edmund Burke is no defence, especially when the Speaker cheerfully tears up parliamentary rules to assist MPs in seizing control of government. If MPs succeed in imposing an oligarchy, what then? If they succeed how do they intend to maintain their power? Have any of them actually thought about the type of totalitarian state they want? Or are they content that, if they can prevent democracy, continued EU membership will reduce them to Ken Clarke's debating chamber and they need not concern themselves.
What if the people refuse to surrender, if democracy refuses to die - what then? Rule by a committee of the self anointed wise and intelligent? Intelligence tests for voters, over 55s banned from voting, ban elections altogether? Far-fetched? Not long ago the idea of MPs deliberately lying and refusing to accept democracy would have seemed impossible. We live in interesting, but dangerous times.
Writing in Conservative Home, Mohammed Amin, Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum said, "An MP is free to vote as he or she wishes, regardless of any promises or commitments they may have made to their political parties, or indeed to their voters during the election campaign. Doing a volte face on an election promise will indeed attract severe criticism, but the MP is free to break as many election promises as he or she wishes." This MPs rogue's charter is contrary to common sense, but more especially it ignores not just morality, but reality too. Michael Gove has said, "We live in a parliamentary democracy. Parliament voted for the referendum and Article 50, it voted as well as the withdrawal bill, but it is wrong to discuss proroguing parliament because it is against the principle of parliamentary democracy."
Lord Acton wrote that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That is why in a democracy we have regular elections holding politicians to account. The system only works when those elected acknowledge and respect the system. The 'Liberal' cabal, in a parliamentary majority at present, neither accepts nor respects the system, but places their rights above those of the sovereign people who elected them and from whom their power devolves. Indeed, to them lies and deceit are promoted as "Normal and Correct. " When a minister of the crown defends a parliament seemingly intent on a coup against the people, we are approaching a point of no return.
When a cabal of parliamentarians openly plot to rebel against the people we face an existential crisis. Proroguing parliament to prevent a coup and defend democracy may well be the only course open to democrats. Whoever becomes Prime Minister in July must not shirk this responsibility because the safety and stability of our country will depend on it.