Don’t be fooled by Gordon Brown’s EU Vow
I haven’t made up my mind on how to vote in the EU referendum. In one respect it’s like choosing between chlamydia and herpes: pitting a bloated, undemocratic, intangible, bureaucratic monstrosity against perpetual but unshackled Tory rule. In other respects the decision is much more complicated. With a little research I can get my head around sexually transmitted diseases, but how anyone can decide with any surety how to vote in the EU referendum is beyond me. The outcome of the vote is so daunting, complicated and unpredictable that I feel the only sensible thing to do is abstain.
The politicians are not helping. The remain camp is ticking off all the boxes from the Scottish referendum play book of terror. A series of doom harbingers are rolled out in order to instill the fear of death into anyone who considers voting against the established way of things. What is interesting this time is that many of those who were woe peddlers in the previous referendum are now adopting the hopeful language of the Scottish independence campaign.
But not Gordon Brown, the Saviour of the Union. He is at least consistent in his mongering of fear and beatific last minute interventionism. Today, Scottish Labour fanzine, the Daily Record, reports that the former PM is advocating another Vow in order to ensure that there is a remain vote.
To win in the Scottish referendum, we had to do much more than elaborate the negative consequences from the break-up of Britain. We had to set out a positive reform agenda, which eventually led to a new constitutional settlement.
However, the Vow was a deception carried out on the Scottish people. It was done by mainstream media sleight of hand and no doubt it will be carried out the same way this time around. The Vow which was too vague to break was published in a newspaper that only a small percentage of the population reads. It offers ‘extensive new powers’ but doesn’t go into any actual detail as to what they might be. Meanwhile, the real deception was enacted. So called “big hitters” like Brown and Darling who had no political power were given extensive coverage on television in order to mislead the people into thinking The Vow was going to be akin to home rule.
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During the Scottish referendum in order for there to be a Vow it was only necessary for the leaders of the three main UK political parties to agree to deliver more powers. However, the EU currently has 28 member states which make up the European Council. Before announcing the EU referendum David Cameron spent several months negotiating with them in order to achieve what many consider underwhelming concessions. Even with plenty of negotiation time and the threat of Brexit, Cameron could not get the other 27 states to agree to all of his demands. The compromises outlined in this document are as far as he could push them. Therefore, it is unlikely that all 28 member states are going to agree to any more meaningful concessions.
So, if you are sitting on the fence with regards to the EU referendum and there is a last ditch cobbled together Vow be careful not to be seduced by the spin like many were in Scotland in 2014. Ignore the politicians on the news who will undoubtedly augment any proposals that may be made. Look to see if there is a fully binding European Council document produced and if so, digest what is actually being offered before letting it influence your decision.
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