Saturday, December 29, 2018

Matthew jumps the shark

I have a lot of time for Matthew Parris. I often agree with much of what he writes and usually find that his articles help me to clarify my own thoughts even when I strongly disagree.

But he's jumped the shark this morning by openly arguing that MPs should defy the result of the referendum. (Which most of them were elected on manifesto promises to respect - more than 80% of voters in last year's election voted for parties which said they would implement the referendum result and leave the EU.)

Those who are registered with Times Newspapers, either to read the allowance of free items which can be accessed each week or who pay, can read his article by clicking on it's title which is as follows:

"MPs must be brave and tell us we were wrong."

Yes, it was close, and 52:48 is close enough to make it reasonable for those whic are charged with  implementing the decision to try to carry as much of the country as possible with them, and negotiate a deal which minimises the difficulties risks that a very large minority were concerned about as long as it does actually take us out of the EU.

Close enough to make it entirely unreasonable for those who want the most hard-line possible form of Brexit to anyone who supports a less extreme form which does not precisely correspond with their own views of treachery or treason.

But the problem we are facing of people in the "political class" coalescing around extreme views and refusing to compromise, which has exacerbated divisions and is creating a real risk of making Brexit a failure, or far less successful than it should have been, depending on your perspective, is just as pervasive on the Remain side as the Leave side and Matthew's article illustrates this point perfectly.

The winning margin in the referendum was over a million votes. Easily enough to make it unlikely that tweets from Russian bots, or failings in the way the Leave campaigns managed their campaign finance, actually changed the results or to credibly argue that any of the evidence of malpractice which we have seen actually invalidated it.

There were arguments against promising an EU membership referendum in the first place, arguments which prior to 2011 I agreed with. But if you win an election in which you promise to hold a referendum and respect the result, which is what the Conservatives did in 2015, you cannot then go back on that promise and pretend to believe in democracy. And both Labour and the Conservatives promised in the 2017 election to respect the result of the 2016 referendum.

MPs who did as Matthew wishes and ignored that would not just be brave, but showing contempt for the electorate.

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