EU Referendum : A Tale Of Leadership & Responsibility

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

– Winston Churchill


One thing that I’ve noticed has crept in, or maybe that I was too naive to see when I first started work, is that managers are now leaders. We don’t want people to only plan and organise, but we want people to inspire and challenge, and not just with a vision but with honesty and an integrity that means that they take responsibility.

It’s a distinct lack of leadership that is irritating me about the whole debate on leaving the EU. That and the fact that Brexit’s naming convention in combining two words in to one for a jaunty title has its origins somewhere around X-Factor joke act Jedward.

I’m lucky enough to live in a democracy where the qualifying electorate (who are fairly representative of society) have the right to elect a person to lead our country and, albeit maybe indirectly, to dismiss them from their position when or if they don’t lead us in a direction we want to go in.

I live in a representative democracy and, as such, I can’t help but feel a certain disappointment that my leader is rejecting the responsibility to make a decision on my country’s membership of the European Union. It feels like gross negligence to abdicate the responsibility of the most important decision we, as a nation, have probably ever faced, because its consequences could well be irreversible.

Yes, the EU has flaws, especially in its democratic accountability. But this is also not just a decision around which country provides our pickers of fruit and vegetables and whether those fruit and vegetables are the right size and shape. This is a decision that affects immigration, crime, trade, law, jobs, economy, sovereignty and defence.

The effects will not just be felt by Britain, but may reach even further than the 28 nations who have combined to turn a war zone in to arguably the most important trade bloc on the planet. European Council President Donald Tusk said “that Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also of western political civilisation in its entirety”.

And who do you think should make that decision?

It appears to me that in modern politics the average person on the street is more interested in being represented by the person that they can be mates with. This means that they want to be represented by the person who knows the cost of a loaf of bread and is also apoplectic about council car parking prices. This image of being a “man (or woman) of the people” can be attained by a delegation of responsibility by letting that average person on the street make decisions.

As Richard Dawkins put it when he was discussing this very subject:

If you are going to have an operation you want to have an elite surgeon, if you are going to board a plane you want an elite pilot. The same should be true of government. We need to be governed by the elite rather than by people like you and me.

I realise at this stage that I’m making an assumption, and that’s that the average person on the street has elected the best person to represent them in Parliament. Whether that person is or is not seen by any part of society as “elite” is irrelevant. Yes, this person may be the best of a bad bunch but they have been elected by a majority to represent the whole. As such, they have a responsibility to be both knowledgeable of the pros and cons of the debate and to be representative of the people who elected them.

To put forward an argument that those people in Parliament are just as uninformed as the person on the street and therefore no better placed to make a decision on membership of the EU, to me, undermines the very democracy that we’re trying to maintain and forms the basis of a different argument entirely. We elect these people to be our representatives and our leaders and so, if we fundamentally do not trust them, why should we be given a second chance to do their job for them?

I want my government to be making these big decisions for me because I think that they’re better qualified to do it than the person sat at home complaining that the Polish people picking straight cucumbers in the farm across the road are taking some of the benefits he wants for refusing to pick the straight cucumbers because the pay doesn’t make it worth his while.

I want my government to be making these big decisions for me because I think that they’re better qualified to do it than people making uninformed decisions on gut feelings or lack of knowledge because they feel that they must vote out of duty.

I want my government to be making these big decisions for me because I think that they’re better qualified to do it than than the people who want Britain to leave the EU because “we fought wars so that we wouldn’t be ruled by Germany” without realising the fundamental ideals for which their families fought and died are encapsulated by the very thing that the European Union is trying to be.

I want my government to be making these big decisions for me because I don’t want a decision to be made on the back of anti-establishment sentiment that is seeing that imbecile Donald Trump gain a ridiculous amount of traction in the US elections.

To an extent, I also want my government to make this decision because a fairly large proportion of the population eligible to vote will be dead before the true effects of their decision are seen by the rest of us.  They’re an important section of the population in this debate too, with more than 80 per cent of over-55s declaring that they’re certain to vote in the EU referendum, but barely half of under-35s say the same.  Yes, I do believe some people’s votes are more important than others.

The Leave campaign will read this and say that I’m scared of the ‘the plebeian end’ of society. Others will realise that I’ve actually tried to stay out of the Leave or Remain or debate for now. I’m also trying to stay out of David Cameron’s selfishness about the whole situation. Some will call me bigoted. However, I actually don’t seek to make my point by highlighting the class system and calling some people ignorant and / or stupid.

I seek to make my point by suggesting, that in my opinion, the best people to take the responsibility of making these decisions are our leaders, the people that you and I elect in to office to represent our interests. So that’s what I want them to do. I want them to take responsibility and lead.

She wanted me, I know she did, I know these things.
Didn’t have to tell me though she could have,
She spoke of me to her best friend (my ears stings).
Didn’t want to let on that was her choice.
Famously, courageously, it’s your say.
In time, in life you have a choice and mind response-ability
And it’s up to us to get it right.
Divine response-ability, ability, ability.
I could have been, I know I could but as it was
I chose not to speak out but wish I would have.
Weird how it is a classic thing, panicking.
A self inflicted, nervous, lost control.
Aimlessly, courageously it’s your say.
In time, in life, you have a choice
And mind response-ability,
And it’s up to us to get it right.
Divine response-ability, ability, ability.
Famously, courageously it’s you say.
In time, in life you have a choice and mind response-ability
And it’s up to us to get it right.
Divine, response-ability.

Response-ability by Simon Townshend

Comments 2

  1. Barbara Fisher

    I have been busy and have had this post up on my screen to complete reading as my pastor who is from Scotland and now in the US had an opinion on this too. I will be sharing with him on Facebook or other medium. I see in your subsequent post that you will vote to remain. I believe that he is for leaving.

    • Hi Barbara! Always interested to hear people’s opinions on these things, especially someone on “the other side”. Whatever he thinks, hopefully he’ll appreciate that mine is a thought out opinion.

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