One of the shorthand ways in which you can describe the English Revolution is the wresting of financial powers from the Monarchy by Parliament. It\’s a pretty long revolution too, the apotheosis of monarchical financial power possibly being the system set up by William the Bastard after 1066. Slightly ameloirated by Simon de Montfort\’s Parliament, twists and turns through the Stuarts to the Glorious Revolution and then the real change, the signing over of the Crown Estate in return for the Civil List under George III (?).
As I say, this is a shorthand sketch, but there are certainly those writers who will say that this is the golden thread that runs through our history and led to that freedom and liberty which our forefathers were so proud of.
It is important to realise what is at stake here. When you exercise your right to vote for one party or another in national elections, you are, more often than not, doing so on the basis of its fiscal policies: that is, what it proposes to do about tax and spending. There could scarcely be a more important function of the electoral process than this. If the government is not accountable to you for what it does with your money, and how much it will take from you to do those things, then what is left of your power as a citizen? In what sense is your consent to being governed required? If responsibility for these decisions is to be removed from the elected governments of individual countries and transferred to a pan-European entity, then we are setting out on a course with the most terrifying political implications.
Janet Daly\’s highlighting the way in which the EU is reversing this process. The Eurozone (and who is willing to bet that the EU won\’t move the same way?) is deliberately setting up a system which allocates spending decisions to the executive, not the elected representatives. Note especially that the EU Parliament cannot introduce a bill, cannot even introduce an amendment to a bill already passed. Only the Commission is allowed to initiate the legislative process.
To say nothing of the way in which the EU Parliament is not representative of that European Demos which as yet (perhaps never) does not exist.
The will of the people is not a mere irritant or an obstacle, to be overcome under the pressure of particular circumstances. It is inherently volatile and dangerous: a threat to the benign, enlightened governance which only an apolitical bureaucratic administration can deliver.
You can certainly believe that that makes a better world. I\’d simply argue that the English experience over the centuries has been to argue against this. Whether Monarch, apolitical bureaucracy or Lord Protector, we\’ve always argued that having such chained, ruled over, by the people\’s direct representatives holding the purse strings is the desirable system.
But what\’s the odd thousand years of political experimentation when we can have European union?