There’s a piece in the Telegraph by Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, where he grumbles about the ‘shadowy establishment’ at the heart of Europe… This elite political power is supported by a much wider establishment, controlled by patronage and money…. All given a stake in the EU which is much much greater than the average citizen’.
At heart this is timeworn conspiracy-theory stuff, the elite working against the little man. Taken to its logical conclusion all major issues should go to referenda.
And if the media happen to be all of one persuasion, the monied establishment, the press, of which Charles Moore himself is so much a part, then that’s bad luck. The Barclay brothers, Murdoch, the Daily Mail and Paul Dacre … they have a direct line to us ordinary folk, they understand the way we think before we think it, and we’re only too glad to see our opinions expressed for us each day in a nice forthright way. Why should we ever have thought differently?
(The press is the establishment that most worries me. They and their owners should be directly accountable, UK-owned, UK mainland resident, and public figures, so we know who they are – not just shadows in the night. How about having meetings of publishing or editorial boards open to the public? Or at least part of the public record. This is a public debate we do need…but it might be just a little bit hard to get started.)
We have Owen Jones on the left of the spectrum, and Charles Moore on the right, going on about establishments. Maybe they should come together, and we could have flat tax for everyone, no exceptions, so no space for financial disagreement. Leave the EU and buy and sell only what we produce ourselves. So no need for a foreign policy. Just an army along the English Channel.
Sadly power does get shunted upwards, and we have to make certain that at each level ‘they’ are as accountable as we can make them. But the ‘big businesses and the banks, the scientific and agricultural interests, universities, judges, lawyers, regional governments, big media organisations [glad to see they’re mentioned], charities, pressure groups…’, all the groups whose greater stake in the EU than the ordinary Joe Charles Moore bemoans…. yes , they have a bigger stake because they’re all engaged, they are all active in the real world, not passive and grumpy readers of the popular press.
Inevitably, if there’s a multi-national set-up like the EU power gets shunted upwards, and the European Parliament has done a poor job in holding the Commission to account. So we have to be vigilant, monitoring day-to-day, and restricting the authority we do actually shunt upwards.
We can’t just close borders and minds and imagine there’s a conspiracy against us and insist on a ‘direct’ democracy which might have suited ancient Athens – and would well suit the Daily Mail.
Better to be part of the conspiracy.