It’s become fashionable to normalize madness these days. I’ve got four passports, all currently attached to caricature joke governments. Democracy has become a joke, but not a funny one.
Take, for example, this recent letter I got from my MP (Member of Parliament) regarding Brexit.
For those not familiar with the UK system, one of the things I quite like about it is that our elected representatives generally have to reply to letters from their constituents. The response you get might be formulaic, and is likely to be at least partly written by a member of the MP’s staff, but it has to at least vaguely address your concerns.
And even Parliament eventually has to move with the times (a little bit) so they started treating emails in the same way, at least if they’re sent via the official channels.
Through a fellow journalist, Mike Butcher, I found out about a great website called WriteToThem which lets you look up who your MP is and contact them in the appropriate way to ensure a response. Mike is a vocal campaigner against Brexit and for a #peoplesvote so when I saw his Tweet asking people to write to their representatives in Parliament if they were concerned about Brexit, I feverishly penned the following:
Tuesday 16 October 2018
Dear Rebecca Pow,
As one of your constituents, I would like to make it clear and how absolutely disgusted I am with your party’s attitude towards Brexit and its approach to the so-called negotiations.
Since you and your colleagues seem determined to steer the country over a cliff edge, know that more people are seeing this folly for what it is, and that we will hold you responsible at the next election.
The referendum was not a legitimate reflection of the will of the
people. The “winning” argument was based on ridiculous lies and false promises, all of which have been disproved before we even go through with it.
And if that weren’t enough, there is plentiful evidence of tampering
with the electoral process, which would be sufficient motive to recall any election. The will of the people can only be served by another
vote, when everyone is in full possession of the real facts.
As your constituent, I therefore urge you to support a people’s vote.
And sure enough, I eventually did get a response. I’ve highlighted in bold the bits at which I scoffed out-loud as opposed to merely glaring at the words.
Thank you for your email dated 16 October regarding Brexit.
I understand your strength of feeling on this matter but there will not be another vote and the UK is leaving the EU next year. I believe that when a decision of constitutional significance is made, it is important that democratic processes are followed. That is why Parliament gave the British people the final say on the UK’s membership of the EU and why the result must be respected, even if it was unexpected by some.
The ballot paper presented voters with an unambiguous choice to remain in the EU or to leave. The consequences of either decision were communicated by campaign groups through a variety of print, audio-visual and digital media. The Government also sent a document to every household in the UK on the benefits of staying in the EU.
As in every election, it was up to the electorate to judge the merits of the different arguments and over 17.4 million voters decided to leave the EU. Both main political parties also pledged in their manifestos at the General Election 2017 to respect the EU referendum result and these parties received over 80 per cent of the vote.
MPs from across the political spectrum voted 494 to 122 in favour of invoking Article 50 in 2017. The exit negotiations are now well under way and I am confident that an agreement will be reached to the mutual benefit of the both the UK and the EU. MPs will vote on the deal when it comes to Parliament.
As you may be aware, I campaigned to remain in the European Union during the referendum campaign. I believed that this was the best way to tackle the key issues facing the world today such as agricultural issues and matters of international security. Despite this, millions of people voted to leave including many in my own constituency and their decision must be respected.
I do hope this goes some way to addressing your concerns in this respect.
Rebecca Pow MP
Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Of course, the letter is just a nicely worded way of saying “sod off” and does not actually address any of the specific issues I raised when I wrote to her — namely the fact that the entire leave campaign was based on a steaming pile of lies and ludicrous promises which even the equally steaming Brexiteers have since disowned completely.
And let’s not even go into how likely it is that we’re going to miraculously reach any semblance of a reasonable deal with the E.U. in the time we have left. Students beginning to research their dissertation at 10:00pm the night before they’re due to hand it in have a much better chance of scoring a First.
But what really tickles me (in the winsome way a poisonous viper crawling across your belly would) is the way the letter equates the general election turnout with an endorsement of Brexit. Since neither of the main parties offered any kind of alternative, that’s the equivalent of strapping you to a chair, making you choose which limbs you’d like to have amputated with a rusty saw, then proclaiming you to be an enthusiastic supporter of mutilation.
And let’s not forget (although they want us to) that some of the people who paid for the Brexit campaign are now under criminal investigation , and that there’s widespread recognition that the entire process also suffered from meddling by Russia. Tiny details, I know, but worth mentioning perhaps.
So when Rebecca pontificates about respecting and upholding the democratic process, we’re on the same page, except that Brexit was as far from a fair and democratic process as it’s possible to get in a supposedly civilized country. If such corruption, misinformation and manipulation happens in Africa, Britain and the international community refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the results, so why is it that (at least) half of the UK is just being told to grin and bear it, bite the bullet, and go down with the bloody ship?
I enjoy a bit of silliness as much as the next gal, but GOD HELP ME, this is getting tedious. There’s a limit to how much nonsense at the highest levels one can take. We’re supposedly a few months away from the “inevitable” cliff edge, and the bunch of incompetent mad men and women driving the bus seem to think that we should be content with our collective suicide pact, whether we signed up for it or not.
But I, for one, will keep dinging that bell and hoping a very small hope that the bus might stop short of plunging headfirst onto shit creek, because last time I looked, we were fresh out of paddles.