“The tyranny of the majority” – really?

The phrase “the tyranny of the majority” is one that has been bandied around a lot recently. Some might be tempted to simply shrug it off as another example of Remoaners doing a bit of moaning. But the phrase actually encapsulates a serious point about the limits of democracy in a diverse, modern society. Whether the Remain voters are using the phrase correctly is, however, another question.

John Major talked about “the tyranny of the majority” at some length last November. He first used the phrase in a speech to a dinner in Westminster. Sir John made it very clear that he wanted the views of the 48% who had voted “Remain” to be taken into account by the government during its negotiations with the EU.

Tim Farron and Tony Blair quickly came out in agreement (no surprises there) as did many others. A common theme was that another referendum should be held before Britain actually left the EU. The idea was that the simple majority of votes cast in June 2016 should not determine Britain’s future for ever. That seems to be what these Remain supporters mean by “the tyranny of the majority”.

But that is not how the phrase is usually meant nor used.

The phrase was first used by American founding father Alexander Hamilton during the drafting of the Constitution of the USA back in the 18th century. Hamilton worried that if there was a permanent majority of people with one viewpoint, they could use it to oppress and disempower those with a different viewpoint.

An example being bandied around at the time was that the densely populated industrial cities might use their voting power to penalise the more thinly populated agricultural areas. Perhaps agricultural exports would be highly taxed, but no taxes put on industrial exports. So those in rural communities would be economically penalised by a larger bloc of voters. That would be unfair.

Hamilton and his colleagues sought to get around this by setting up the electoral college system for the Presidential elections and the way states have weighted voting in the US Senate. Not a perfect solution, but at least they recognised the problem and made an effort to solve it.

A more recent example in the UK might be the fox hunting ban. A majority of the population live in urban areas and prefer not to see foxes hunted by florid-faced stereotypes in red jackets on horseback. The realities of the situation in rural areas played little part in the debate. The urban majority got their way, and look set to continue to get their way for the forseeable future.

That is a real example of “the tyranny of the majority”. One section of the nation has been permanently oppressed by another, larger section which has no stake in the outcome of the oppression. I do not recall Major, Blair or Farron objecting then.

By comparison the EU Referendum vote was a simple exercise in direct democracy. Now, you may or may not approve of referendums [I’ll come back to that another time], but “the tyranny of the majority” it most certainly is not.

Photo by Chatham House, London

The Government will fail the first Brexit test by not scrapping the London Convention

Release: Immediate

 

Words: 382

Contact: Alan Hastings – 07827 399 408

Fishing for Leave recently highlighted the immediate need for the government to denounce the London Convention.

DexEU and DEFRA’s response that “in regard to historical access to waters, no decisions have yet been taken on the UK’s position” and that “we endeavour to reach an agreement…. by the time the two year Article 50 process has concluded”  is pitiful and suggests they have no intention of acting.

As lovely as it was to hear the government reiterate its position of caring for our fishing and coastal communities their response scarcely backs this rhetoric.

The London Convention must be denounced now to secure all access to our waters and obtain the strongest possible diplomatic hand.

This Convention gives historic rights for European vessels to fish in UK waters but only between 6 and 12 nautical miles from our shores.

Failing to scrap this Convention would allow the EU ‘back door’ access to this narrow strip as the convention will still apply to the UK upon withdrawal.

As the Convention requires two years notice it must be denounced immediately, and before Article 50 is triggered, to avoid an overlap allowing EU access to UK waters.

For 8 months there has only been rhetoric and no results. The government is well aware of this issue and their failure to act suggests they have no intention of securing our rich fishing waters.

Why are they not fully committed to securing this strong hand by controlling all access?

If the government does not act immediately on this easy and simple test of Brexit then it evidently has no intention of making a serious stand. The government and MP’s are about to fail this first test on Brexit.

It would show the opportunity of automatic repatriation of an industry, that could double to be worth approximately £6.3bn annually, is to be betrayed a second time. Fisheries will symbolise whether we’ve “taken back control of our borders” and will therefore be the “acid test” of Brexit.

The government must serve notice to denounce this Convention immediately. To demonstrate that it really does intend to repatriate and safeguard the nation’s greatest renewable resource.

If it does not then it looks like we’re going to have a backslide and betrayal of Brexit and that the government is all mouth and no trousers.

There is still time to lobby your MP to act on this – if you want to see our fishing grounds secured please send the letter in this link to them – http://www.ffl.org.uk/letter-to-mp/

The Law of the Land and Alien Law – a summary of CIB’s meeting, 15th March

On March 15th, the Campaign for an Independent Britain organised a meeting in the House of Lords to discuss the issue of alien legal systems in the UK.

We would like to thank Lord Pearson of Rannoch for arranging the venue and also our two visiting speakers, Anne Marie Waters of Sharia Watch and Torquil Dick-Erikson of Save British Justice.

Our Chairman, Edward Spalton, opened the meeting, introducing the speakers and the subject in question. What bound together the two subjects of Sharia law  and the European Arrest Warrant was their insistence “on imposing alien law and making it superior to our own law of the land. For some reason, which  I cannot fathom, there are presently and have been for two generations  now, many of our leading fellow countrymen and women who think so little of their own people, land and culture that they are willing to submit it to one or other or both of these projects.

Anne Marie explained that the problem with Sharia Law  was that, because the state does not enforce it and it thus has no legal validity in official UK Law, in reality, for many Muslims, particularly women, the situation is very different. “Most Muslims do not make an active choice to be Muslims, they are born in to their religion.  Their family life, community life, is inextricably bound up in the religion.” Islamic law – i.e., Sharia – is therefore the code by which they are bound and unofficially, in spite of its lack of formal legal status. This is a particular concern when it comes to family law.

In Sharia family law, a wife is worth less than her husband.  She cannot divorce of her volition, even if she subject to violence and abuse.  Her testimony in a family law dispute is worth only half of her husband’s.  This is intended to make it as difficult as possible for women to ‘win’ in any family law dispute.  The reason for this is simply because the Koran deems women to be worth less than men.  Furthermore, in Sharia law, the best interests of the child do not come first – again in defiance of the standards, principles, and spirit of British law.  The best interests of the child do not come first in sharia because Islam deems that children are the property of their fathers, who has sole power over their lives.  Mothers have no input and no rights.” To put it simply. these Sharia courts, for all their lack of official status, are still making decisions which have a huge impact on the lives of women and children in particular.

She concluded “We must stop pretending that there is nothing specific to Sharia that should worry us.  There is. It is a system predicated on male dominance, on violent punishment, on arbitrary whims of clerics, and on complete disregard for the humanity and rights of children.  Sharia is not compatible with Britain; it’s not compatible with our social values, our legal principles, or who we are as a nation.  Its practice should therefore not be permitted.  The fundamental principles of British law should instead be upheld as supreme.”

Torquil began by warning us that it still appears to be the Government’s intention to keep us invovled with the EU’s justice system on Brexit. Britain will try to remain in European Union security organisations and systems such as Europol – the EU’s law enforcement agency – and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) after Brexit. These are the words of Amber Rudd, the current Home Secretary.

He went on to explain the fundamental differences between UK law and that of the EU. In your humble scribe’s opinion, this was one of the clearest explanations of the incompatibilities of the two systems that he has ever heard.  At the heart of Magna Carta was its commitment to individual freedom – a determination to limit the power of the king and to avoid the concentration of power into too few hands. Almost at the same time, on the Continent, Pope Innocent III was  setting up the Inquisition, which sought to “unify the functions of accusation and judgement, into the same hands, those of the Inquisitor. The function of defender was kept quite separate. With the Inquisition the dice were loaded in favour of the accuser.”

Although ironically it was Napoleon’s armies which finally destroyed the power of the Inquisition in Spain, “Napoleon was a law-giver. His codes underlie many of Europe’s laws to this day. Unfortunately he did not adopt the English system, derived from Magna Carta, which aimed to limit the power of the State over the individual. Instead he adopted and adapted the essential methods of the inquisition. Continental European criminal-law systems are called ‘inquisitorial’ to this day. He adapted the system by re-orienting it, from the service of the Church to the service of the State.”

Of particular interest was Torquil’s  debunking of the myth that Continental law must be OK because all EU member states have signed the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR “does not contemplate what we in Britain would consider a right of Habeas Corpus. All it says, in article 6 is that a prisoner has a right to a public hearing before an impartial tribunal in a ‘reasonable’ time. But nowhere does it define what is ‘reasonable’.”

In the UK, a prisoner must appear in a public court within hours, or at most, a few days (with the exception of certain terrorist offences, but on much of the Continent, “for many EU states, under their Napoleonic-inquisitorial jurisdictions, it is considered ‘reasonable’ to keep a prisoner under lock and key with no public hearing for six months, extensible by three months at a time. These are the terms of the Commission’s Corpus Juris proposal for an embryo single uniform criminal code to cover the whole of Europe, including the British Isles.” Torquil mentioned Andrew Symeou, who spent nearly a year in a Greek prison on trumped-up charges as a result of being served with a European Arrest Warrant.  Torquil went on to ask “why do the European courts need to be able to keep a prisoner in prison for so long before formally charging him? There is a simple reason. In Britain, the Habeas Corpus right to a speedy public hearing after arrest ensures that the investigators have to find some pretty solid EVIDENCE of a prima facie case to answer BEFORE they arrest someone. This is based on Magna Carta’s article 38. It seems to us to be mere common sense.

On the continent, in contrast, they only need a suspicion, based on mere clues or what we would consider to be very flimsy and insufficient evidence, in order to arrest and imprison a person. They can then seek EVIDENCE AFTER they have arrested him. And of course it is quite “reasonable” for them to say that this can take months. This is the official reason. Of course there may also be other reasons, derived from the historic roots of their system in the Inquisition. In the bad old days they used the rack and thumbscrews, but nowadays they may be hoping that the harshness of unpredictably lengthy prison conditions will induce the prisoner to CONFESS.”

He proposed withdrawing from the ECHR as well as from participation in the EAW. We were able to cooperate with police forces within the EU before the EAW came into being and he urged that the UK should withdraw at once from the EAW, and replace it with an arrangement similar to that which prevailed before the EAW was brought in.”

Although criminal law may seem an esoteric issue, given how few of us are likely to find ourselves being charged with an offence, it is actually very important. “Criminal law is the basis of State power, and seizing control of the criminal law is essential if one is to take over an existing State, or to build a new State, as the EU seeks to do.  Why? Because the essential distinguishing feature of any State is the ability to use violent coercion on the bodies of the citizens – legally….Different peoples with different value-systems have different ideas of Right and Wrong, what is Justice and what is Injustice. We see this with crystal clarity when we consider Sharia law. But in any case, the criminal laws are the handle for regulating State power over the individual.  It is therefore in the criminal laws that the safeguards of our FREEDOM are to be found.”

So Brexit will not truly be Brexit unless we are free of the power of an alien legal system. “The two systems cannot co-exist in the same state. One must prevail.” These same comments could equally apply to Sharia Law as well.

The talks were followed by a lively question-and-answer session. 

Edward’s introduction can be downloaded here

Anne Marie’s speech can be  downloaded here

and Torquil’s speech can be downloaded here.

State of the Disunion as 60th anniversary celebrations approach

No doubt there were huge sighs of relief in Brussels that fewer Dutch voters than expected supported Geert Wilders’ anti-establishment PVV in the country’s recent General Election and that the VVD (Liberal) party, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte gained the most seats.

A few days before the European Union’s 27 remaining members meet to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of  Treaty of Rome, they can breathe more easily – at least for now. However, Mr Wilders was never going to become Prime Minister due to the multiplicity of political parties in the Netherlands, virtually all of which ruled out going into coalition with his party. If the PVV had become the largest party in the Dutch Parliament, it would have nonetheless emboldened anti-EU parties in France and Germany, where elections are also due later this year.

Even so, next weekend’s festivities cannot disguise the harsh fact that the EU is becalmed, with no clear sense of direction. Eurosceptic parties may not yet be on the verge of forming governments in Western Europe, but their support is growing steadily. In response, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has recently published a white paper offering five different future scenarios for the bloc’s future.

In a nutshell, these range from pressing on with ever closer union (Scenario 5) at one extreme to a reduction to nothing more than a Single Market (Scenario 2) at the other. The other three options are a two-speed Europe (Scenario 3), with some countries integrating faster than others, “Doing less more efficiently” (Scenario 4) and “Carrying on” (Scenario 1).

The ever-closer union option is unlikely to gain much favour in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Hungary. The current Polish government is a supporter of repatriating power from Brussels and the recent reappointment of Donald Tusk, a member of Poland’s biggest opposition party, as President of the European Council against the wishes of Poland’s government, is not going to improve relations between Warsaw and Brussels. Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski said that his country will “play a very rough game” in the European Union.

Hungary has no appetite for interference in its internal affairs by Brussels. The European Commission has criticised the construction of a razor wire fence on the border with Serbia, but Hungary has ignored the criticism and pressed on regardless.

Then there are Greece’s problems. Our friends in EPAM, a Greek Eurosceptic organisation, are organising protests against austerity outside several Greek embassies, including one in London, on Saturday 25th March. The organisation claims that austerity has bitten so deep into Greece’s fabric that lives are being lost as the country’s health service has reached the point of collapse. One article recently brought to our attention claims that “The country is rotting inside the EU and the eurozone. The Greek people have crashed economically. Greek cities, because of massive illegal immigration, look less like cities in Europe and more like cities in Afghanistan. Banks have begun the mass-confiscation of residences. The people are on the verge of revolt.

Of course, it is the Euro, one of the EU’s flagship policies, which has put Greece into its current straitjacket. Until recently, however, support for both the Euro and EU membership was remarkably strong. Almost two years ago, at the height of the last financial crisis, over 69% supported remaining within the Eurozone, with 56% wanting to keep the single currency even if it meant harsh austerity measures being imposed.

Such statistics act as a reality check to those of us in the UK whose dislike of the EU is so intense that we find it hard to figure out why other countries are not preparing to follow us out of the exit door.  We have never been keen on pooled sovereignty and for us, the EU’s “Ring of death” flag is a badge of shame. Across the Channel, things are viewed differently. Member states which suffered years of Soviet rule or military dictatorships view EU membership as a symbol break with a past they are all too keen to forget. While not all the EU’s leading lights are such gushing  federalists as the Belgian MEP and former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt,  there are still plenty of enthusiasts for the project. For instance the Spanish MEP  Esteban González Pons who called Brexit “selfish”, claimed that the EU was the “only alternative” in an increasingly globalised world and expressed the hope that one day, we would one day “come home”  – re-join the EU in other words.

Such sentiment seems almost laughable given that others in the EU clearly view  Brexit as a great opportunity to press on with closer union now the pesky foot-dragging Brits are going their own way.  We will no doubt hear much about how wonderful the EU is during next weekend’s celebrations, but once the festivities are over, the leaders of EU-27 will have to look long and hard at Mr Juncker’s five options for the EU’s future and coming to a consensus isn’t gong to be easy. Geert Wilders may not have achieved the breakthrough for which he hoped, which in turn has made Marine le Pen’s already difficult path to the Elysée Palace even harder, but the EU has only won a short-term reprieve.  A big fireworks display in Rome cannot disguise the fact that it faces a serious identity crisis which it shows little sign of being able to resolve.

Photo by Christopher Lotito

Some helpful insights from the Freight Transport Association

The really hard tasks will begin soon. Once Article 50 is triggered, the UK government will then have to negotiate a Brexit deal that will enable our trade with both the EU and the rest of the world to continue.

As an example of how complex this might be, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has published a submission it made to Parliament, expressing a number of concerns facing the industry.  Like many organisations involved in trade with the EU, the FTA wishes to ensure that we do not face huge disruption as a result of Mrs May’s decision that we will leave the Single Market.

The piece is worth reading in full, but a few points are worth highlighting:-

  1. There will almost certainly need to be a transitional trading arrangement between the UK and the EU. Negotiating a full trade deal may be very tight, if not unachievable, within the two year timescale of Article 50.
  2. No deal will give us as unfettered access to the Single Market as EEA membership would have done. There will inevitably have to be some trade-offs.
  3. Increased Border controls will be very time-consuming. Falling back on the WTO option would be particularly bad in this respect. The port of Dover would suffer more than anywhere else as freight movements are predicted to rise to between 14,000 and 16,000 per day in the next decade.
  4. Although tariffs are falling worldwide, some sectors of the economy would suffer if tariff-free access to the EU were lost. Tariffs of 10% or more could be imposed on motor vehicles, for instance.
  5. The biggest worry is that the EU may not want to tackle trade issues until after Brexit.  Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s Chief negotiator, made a statement suggesting that the two-year period following the formal triggering of article 50 would only be devoted to withdrawal arrangements and that issues related to the post-Brexit trade relationship with the EU would only be dealt with post-Brexit.  While this is only one person’s opinion and that other voices within the EU are keen to avoid such a disastrous scenario, it shows that the UK’s negotiators will be facing some quite difficult individuals on the other side of the table.

No, Brexit is not going to be easy. We can but hope that the Government has been preparing for these eventualities and knows what it wants before the negotiations begin.

 

Would Scotland REALLY want to rejoin the EU after Brexit?

Nicola Sturgeon is currently attempting to create the momentum for a second Scottish independence referendum  – alias “Indyref 2”. The 2014 referendum was described at the time as a “once in a generation” but Sturgeon said last Monday that because the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland did not, there has been a “change in material circumstances” since 2014 that justifies a second vote. She wants to give Scottish voters the option “to follow the U.K. to a hard Brexit — or to become an independent country.”

“Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish government or the (Scottish National Party),” she said. “It will be decided by the people of Scotland. It will be Scotland’s choice. And I trust the people to make that choice.”

Some recent reports claim that the SNP’s plan for an independent Scotland now involve gaining access to the Single Market by rejoining EFTA rather than trying to rejoin the EU. No doubt we will know more after the party’s forthcoming spring conference this weekend, but given the activities of malign individuals like Tony Blair south of the Border,  it is hard to believe that all Scots – and the SNP leadership in particular – have thrown in the towel as far as membership of the EU is concerned.

Perhaps, however, reality is beginning to dawn on at least some pro-remain Scots that rejoining the EU would be on massively disadvantageous terms because the country would not benefit from the opt-outs which successive British Prime Ministers the UK fought for and which the whole UK currently enjoys.

Were Scotland to overcome concerns in Madrid, which is worried about the Catalan separatist movement, as a new state joining the EU, this would be its fate:-

(a) It would have to adopt  the euro currency  – although this can be deferred somewhat.
Furthermore, what currency would a newly independent Scotland use between leaving the UK and joining the EU? Would it use the euro unofficially like ( say) Montenegro?

What is more, to join the Eurozone,  Scotland’s top- heavy public sector would have to be pruned as vigorously as in the “club Med” countries like Greece where many unemployed people no longer have access to the NHS and long-term unemployed households are on income of only 8.40 euros per day

(b) Scotland would not have the derogations which the UK presently enjoys. For instance, VAT would have to be added to food, children’s clothes, books and house sales. The minimum rate would be 5 per cent. But much, much more would be required to make good the deficit left by the withdrawal of subsidies from England

(c) If there were a strong possibility of a yes vote, financial institutions, pension funds, mutual organisations,  charities and other investors with members and clients in England would have a duty of care to protect them from currency risks, possible exchange restrictions and seizure of money from bank accounts (as happened in Cyprus), as an independent government would quickly become financially desperate. This would undermine the position of the considerable Scottish financial,sector.

(d) Scottish energy policy has been based on selling overpriced “renewable” electricity to England and buying cheap, conventionally produced electricity in the other direction when the wind doesn’t blow.
With the discrediting of the global warming myth, Independence would give England an excellent opportunity to discontinue the arrangement.

(e) The unkindest cut of all. There are already excellent English and Welsh whisky brands which could quickly be expanded and much reduce England’s demand for Scotch whisky.

(f) The much smaller area of Scottish territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (Compared with those of the UK as a whole) would be shared among an unchanged number of EU trawlers, barred from English waters by Brexit.

All in all, the prospects for Scotland if it tries to re-join the EU do look bleak.  It is hard to say how widely these negative impacts are known among the Scottish population – or indeed, by Scotland’s politicians. As mentioned above, it is possible that the SNP’s recent talk of looking at EFTA rather than EU membership may be due to their recognition of  harsh reality of these disadvantages.

However, in the event of any attempt to whip up support for re-joining the EU by the SNP or anyone else, we believe the points set out above need to be widely publicised throughout Scotland. For anyone wishing to start the ball rolling, this helpful website gives a list of all Scottish newspapers, great and small.