Referenda are sometimes thought to be the purest forms of democracy, the YES / NO option, the simple and clear choice. Now, in the UK its not so simple, the option of reversing referenda results by blocking them is now an accepted and even respectable option.
Ordinary voters are sometimes, apparently. too stupid to vote the “right” way. The establishment are now pushing the view that in that case it is perfectly acceptable to reverse their “wrong” decision. Blocking an unacceptable public decision and asking either for a legal reversal and return to the status quo or a second vote on the same matter where the plebs can be better educated as to their mistakes in choosing the wrong option and hopefully vote how their betters tell them.
Looking at the two major referenda in the UK this century, the Scottish Independence Referendum and the EU Referendum, they were fought mainly on economic grounds rather than political or ideological grounds. In both cases the “wrong options”, Scottish Independence in 2014 and Leaving the EU in 2016 were portrayed as certain and terrible economic disasters and the political and cultural consequences generally ignored.
The Scots were told that if independent, they would not be able to use the pound sterling, would have a hard border with England, faced total economic collapse and would have to wait a decade to get back into the EU. The same EU bureaucrats who a few years later would be rather unhelpful to, Mrs May, queued up to visit Scotland with their messages of gloom and doom. Considering the power of these messages and the money behind them, the YES vote was pretty good but not enough people had the courage to risk the economic Armageddon they were promised if they misbehaved.
Up to now the politics of staying in the EU are played down in the Brexit debate. The ever-closer union, the European Army, the expansion of the EU territories, a mega state to match the USA. Freedom of movement, the single market and uniform regulations do not work well in a union where standards of living, wages, educational attainment and social provision vary far too much and actively encourage internal migration. Forgotten is their attitude to succession, existing member states are actively assisted by the EU in keeping their original borders and suppressing their minorities.
The SNP are proving a point by encouraging membership of the EU for Scotland when in 2014 the EU were the cheerleaders of economic gloom and doom for an independent Scotland. However, I suspect the SNP had more than a hint of the likely Brexit result in England and Wales in 2016, which they could use to justify another Independence Referendum. The irony of tactically wanting to stay in the EU when its leaders were so against Freedom for Scotland two years previously, was clearly too delicious to resist. However, the timing of INDYREF 2 is not yet certain, and the gambit may yet stall.
Standing Up To The Mark
The positive for Plaid in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is that they can be credited for the Lib Dem win helping stop and reverse Brexit eventually if that happens. The downside is the same statement. Liz Saville Roberts has made it clear that in the next general election they will stand down again in favour of the Lib Dems. In that case we in Gwlad, will surely stand up to the mark.
How likely are the Lib Dems to stand aside for Plaid in the next general election? I wouldn’t bet on it in any winnable seat. And will the EU pat Plaid on the head in gratitude and give them extra grant funding to piss away like much of the previous lot? Probably not, especially as the next tranche of EU accession states are poor enough to displace Wales as eligible for structural funds.
But, if the result of the Brexit referendum can be reversed, what is the alternative to wining independence via a referendum? If a referendum is won and the rump UK acts like the EU did to Theresa May and delays and drags it on, other parties insist on a second vote, just to be sure, and the months turn into years, parties change their original policies etc. and we end up in stagnation or the equivalent of reversing article 50. Is there a plan B for independence?
Dr. Siân Mair Caiach is Ein Gwlad’s Health and Local Government spokeswoman. She is also a member of Ein Gwlad’s Steering Committee, and a regular contributor to our News Portal.