Democracy must come before self interest

I  believe that migration policy, like all political decisions, should be brought back under the control of democratically elected politicians in this country.

The trouble is, migration has been the most visible index of social change in this country over the past 20 years, and affects other issues such as housing, jobs, services and pay.

But no one is really arguing that their local hospital should be shortstaffed to get migration levels down. If we get the debate back into parliament, where it always should have been, and if the public feel that their votes count again, these battles can be won. 

The current tactic of telling those who are unhappy about migration “We feel your pain but there’s nothing we can do about it” doesn’t work. Democracy does. We need politicians to have the power and courage to act.

This is why, for some of us, the referendum really boils down to a few simple questions. Do you believe in liberal democracy or not? Who holds power and who doesn’t? This isn’t a left/right issue, and it never has been.

During the 1975 referendum, the leave argument was seen as the left being silly and in 2016 it is the right talking nonsense In fact it’s neither. 

The EU is an undemocratic, unreformable institution that locks the UK into a social, political and economic model that can’t be changed. Many may agree with that model, but that’s a matter for voters to decide not bureaucrats.

Little wonder perhaps that those who have benefited from this model are in favour of it while those who haven’t aren’t. Among the liberal, middle-class leave is a kind of blasphemy against the true religion. 

But many working-class people are finished with this way of running the UK, a model that always seems to benefit others and not them.

Telling those millions without jobs or in insecure employment they’ll be unemployed if we leave doesn’t work. 

Nor does telling communities permanently in recession there will be a recession if we go. 

There’s something deeply unpleasant about those doing well telling those who aren’t to suck it up.

It is clear there’s an ugly, anti-democratic mood developing on some doorsteps. “You’re all the same … it doesn’t matter who you vote for.” 

We must ensure democracy comes before self interest.

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