british comedy

British comedy has always had a darker theme to it. Its overwhelmingly about the common man fighting against the viccissitudes of fate (and usually losing). Possibly the greatest example if Foot in the Grave which if you haven't seen, defies explanantion of its appeal. That didn't stop Bill Cosby from using it as the inspiration for his anti-The Cosby Show show, "Cosby". Which also, if you haven't seen, defies explanantion for its appeal (Though the dream sequence about a world where high school teachers occupy the social strata of superstar athletes is notable).

I see a reflection of British comedy in the situation regarding Britain's joining the EU. The EU is a masively centralized supra-national body[1] that is the antithesis of the idea that local government bodies know what is best for their constituents. We can have a good flamewar about the EU later - but the actual goodness or badness of the EU is not strictly relevant to my point.

That point is, Blair wants the decision of whether to join to be done by an act of Parliament. To understand why this should creep you out, consider the process by which such a decision would be made in America (best explained by SDB, as usual):

If there were, for instance, a proposal to form some sort of Pan-American Union (with government in Brasilia) and the United States were considering whether to give up its sovereignty and to become part of a larger hemispheric meta-nation, then Congress and the President could not carry out such a thing merely by passing laws. They'd have to pass an amendment and propose it to the state legislatures, and three quarters of them would have to ratify it.

And that is as it should be. For a decision that big, that important, that critical, it should not be left to a small number of leaders to decide. We cannot permit 536 people to end the history of our nation. The real debate about it would take place in the individual states, where the state legislators are far closer to and more attuned to the opinions of individual voters. In a decision this momentous, the decision ultimately must be made by the voters themselves. There would not be any kind of national referendum about it as such; there's no constitutional provision for such a thing. But as a practical matter, the legislatures would express the will of the people of their states.

It seems likely that given the UK public's poverwhelming opposition to joining the UK, if there were such a similar process, the proposal would fail. Worse, that seems to be Blair's prime reason for not wanting the general public involved. Ultimately the decision to end Britain would be carried out not by the millions of Britons expressing their will, but rather a few hundred people in a legislative body that sees itself in a legal perspective as ruling the common man, not serving them.

Former Prime Minister John Major, considered a conservative by Britons by over here in America would actually be a moderate Democratic with Libertarian leanings, has an important op-ed in The Spectator arguing against the decision to grant Parliament the authority for the decision to join the UK.

In fact John Major has argued in favor of a pet theory of mine, that Britain would be better served by joining NAFTA than the EU. I wonder how the people of the UK would vote were that to be a referendum? Given the nature of British Freedom (ie, a privelege, not a right), it seems unlikely we will ever know.

[1] It's worth pointing out that the entire EU would occupy the same hierarchical level as the United States, because the individual states in America are ultimately more sovereign than the EU member countries are within the Federal umbrella. This amounts to a "demotion" of status for member countries, from "nations" to "states".

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