The first referendum was held in 1975 so UK voters could approve or disapprove of the UK joining the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 (a trading union) and Britons approved it in 1975. Although that referendum was held almost 3-years after joining, the generation that approved it was the generation that had to live under EEC rules.
Which strikes me as pretty democratic — even though I have a minor problem with joining *and then* holding a referendum 3-years later. But, good enough.
What isn’t democratic is politicians signing the UK up to a political union in 1993 and then waiting 23-years before holding a referendum to allow UK voters to approve or disapprove. (And let’s face it, it’s one thing to join a trading club, but a whole other thing to join a political union)
So, the generations that lived under the EU (political union) for 23-years didn’t get a chance to vote to approve or disapprove of it until 2016. Now, that’s not democratic at all.
Some of those people who lived under the EU without the benefit of a referendum aged-out and left this world without ever getting a chance to say whether they wanted to join the EU over 23-years. (About 500,000 Britons die every year; most are senior citizens) So from that you can extrapolate how many people didn’t get a vote on EU membership from 1993 – 2016. (It’s in the neighbourhood of 11.5 million)
Even with all those people gone, the first time all Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership (23-years late) they voted to Leave.
But I guess to some, the people who built the great UK we see today just don’t matter. Because with this generation… it’s all about you.
Which is why the UK is now hearing shrill calls for a 2nd-EU referendum — even though UK politicians haven’t even carried out the instructions of The People from the last EU referendum in June 2016! Which in the above context seems ungrateful and unseemly.
The generations that endured the influenza epidemic, WWI, WW2, the Blitz, food and fuel rationing, and a decade and a half of a bleak existence in the immediate postwar era, and then the Cold War (remember practicing Duck and Cover! every week in school in case of nuclear attack?) didn’t get a chance to vote on EU membership for almost a quarter century.
Duck and Cover! was pretty sobering stuff for children — absolutely no wailing, no crying, no negative talk allowed — and no participation badges, ever.
In the generations from 1910 through 1990 just staying alive seemed like a miracle sometimes, and luxuries were for a small number of movie stars and royalty. And now in 2018, some 12.5 million of those people are gone without a single referendum on EU membership in all those 23-years, let alone two referendums within 3-years. Which strikes me as very undemocratic.
Sure, 12.5 million of those people are gone and they don’t care about referendums or EU membership now. But millions of them aren’t — they’re still here — and they’ve chafed under the bit of the EU since 1993 without a vote on the matter.
So dear Remainers, please consider the people who suffered extreme hardship to build the great UK we see today, who did it in mortal danger, without luxuries, and without you, when you agitate for a 2nd EU referendum before the government has even implemented the results of the 1st EU referendum. The previous generations earned every right to enjoy the Britain they built before they leave this Earth.
It’ll be your turn soon enough… 23-years from now seems about right.
Written by John Brian Shannon