Wednesday, 23 January 2013

EU Referendum

"It is time for the British people to have their say," David Cameron said. "It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision." But in fact under current legislation it is only some British citizens who will have their say.
Setting out the conditions for a future poll, he said: "The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament.
Under UK law, expatriates who have spent more than 15 years abroad are denied the vote.
These are some of the people who will be most affected by departure from the EU 

Universal suffrage is set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Surely, Universal, means 'everybody'.

Expatriates living, legally, within Europe are not going that far. They are very modest in their claim. All they want is the right to vote in elections for their own Government.

At a time in the UK when there's great concern about participation in democracy, for the government to find reasons not to let them vote is curious indeed. One would think they'd be looking for reasons to get people to vote, because there is a danger to democracy if people don't vote.

We have a situation where expatriates who still pay their taxes to the UK, are not allowed to vote. We are allowed to live and work anywhere in Europe under European law, that all previous Governments have signed up for, and there is now a promise to hold a referendum on our future membership of Europe that could affect a large number of expatriates who are not allowed to vote. That is unacceptable.

But there are important hurdles. Cameron has to win the next election with an overall majority. His European partners will have to be willing to renegotiate Britain's relationship. As far as Brussels is concerned., they are clear that allowing one country to change the rules on a unilateral basis is a non-starter.

The European Commission won't like being singled out again by Cameron. He essentially said it shouldn't get any more power or influence.

Labour leader Ed Miliband blasted the PM as having “lost control over his party”., and said that Labour's position is,: British people should not be allowed a voice, during Prime Ministers Questions. Labour said the referendum pledge defined Mr Cameron "as a weak prime minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest".
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said. "We understand the need for change but I don't honestly believe the best way to get change in a club of 27 is to stand at the exit door demanding change or threatening to leave,"

 It's us, the citizens of the UK, that vote for who we want to lead us in government and we would hope that they will give us a chance to now vote on a very important decision that we never voted for in the first place! Mr Cameron argues that the British people's consent for the EU is "wafer thin"

I agree, at his moment in time, I believe the majority of the British public would vote to leave the EU. Many people say that it would be difficult to withdraw from Europe, but withdrawal from the European Union is a right of every member state under Article 50: "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements."

The charm offensive for the next election has begun, leaving labour with a problem defending their no referendum stance, when you hear, on a daily basis, people calling for a referendum.
The voting during any future referendum could well be distorted by large numbers of UK citizens, with fixed ideas about specific subjects. One that stands out clearly above the rest – immigration.
By the time the referendum takes place many new immigrants will have arrived from Bulgaria & Romania, further straining an economy and infrastructure that is creaking. Immigration has got out of control, mainly because of the policies of the Labour party during the Premierships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who were thought to be acting to distort future voting patterns. The thinking being that the poor voters of the ex eastern bloc countries would be more likely to vote for Labour.

The other thing that clouds people’s judgment of the EU, is because of some of the more bizarre directives that have come from Europe, the bent or straight bananas debate being one of them. Some of these directives have become street myths with no basis in fact, that politicians have been content to run, without correction.

A big problem that needs addressing, is the bureaucracy in the EU, especially when on a regular basis you are confronted with newspapers headlines, such as, "European Union STILL wasting billions every year as auditors refuse to sign off accounts for 18th year in a row... Court of Auditors refuses to give accounts a clean bill of health... again"
The “unelected”  European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and day-to-day running of the EU, and was set up to act as an independent authority separate from governments,". The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. Once proposed, the President delegates portfolios between each of the members. The power of a Commissioner largely depends upon their portfolio, and can vary over time. For example, the Education Commissioner has been growing in importance, in line with the rise in the importance of education and culture in European policy-making. Another example is the Competition Commissioner, who holds a highly visible position with global reach. Before the Commission can assume office, the college as a whole must be approved by the Parliament, but the Commissioners are not directly elected by the citizens.

This is in contrast to the Council, which represents governments, the Parliament, which represents citizens, and the Economic and Social Committee, which represents organised civil society.
Through the article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the Commission has several responsibilities: develop medium-term strategies; draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; represent the EU in trade negotiations; make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation. Each Commissioner has his own staff.

However it is the problems we have had in deporting some very unsavoury characters from the UK as a result of appeals to the European Court on Human Rights, that further angers people. This has nothing to do with membership of the EU.

The European Court on Human Rights was established on the 21 January 1959, under the auspices of the Council of Europe and all of its 47 member states, and included Russia. The court is not part of the European Union, as can be seen by the map of the signatories to the convention. The function of the Court is "to ensure the observance of the engagement undertaken" by the contracting states in relation to the Convention and its protocols. The court's interpretation of the Convention's reach is at times subject to criticism.

There has also been criticism of the Court's structure, and, that it had involved itself in matters that had nothing to do with the structure of the Court according to the Convention".

There have been calls for the ability of the court to interfere in the detail of domestic law to be curtailed, but there must be an effort by UK politicians to separate the court from people’s  mind set that the court if a part of the EU

When the problem of immigration and the ability to deport foreigners who are openly here to cause as much disruption to the country has been solved, I would suggest that, when asked, the UK citizen will be less clear on wanting to leave the EU.

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