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The BBC’s coverage of Blair is here:
Tony Blair spoke at the group ‘Open Britain’ (a campaign to keep Britain as open to the world as possible Post-Brexit) on Friday. However, Tony Blair is in no position to speak on this matter- Here’s why:
First, Blair started his speech by making the key acknowledgement that there had been effectively no reversal in Brexit sentiment. The public still backs Brexit, and some polls show that an even larger majority now back Brexit. Despite this fact, Tony Blair wants the people of the UK to ‘rise up’ against Brexit.
Hereby lies Blair’s first problem. No matter how many Remainers ‘rise up’ against Brexit, there will be even more Brexiteers to counter them. The fact is the Leave campaign won the national vote, with strong legitimacy with a turnout of 72% (a higher turnout than the 2015 General Election). It is frankly inappropriate to talk of ‘rising up’ against a democratic vote, is he trying to cause more division?
Boris Johnson cleverly matched Blair’s threat, jokingly claiming that the people of Britain should ‘rise up and turn off the telly’ when Blair comes on with his scaremongering. BoJo is right, and I think the media should stop giving Tony air-time!
This is beside the point though, what is Blair’s actual argument? He claims that Brexit should be reversed because the British people were lied to about the consequences of Brexit and that the full ramifications of Brexit are now clear.
This argument falls apart quickly. The nature of democracy is that each side should be able to make their argument, in the knowledge that the people of a nation are capable and rational enough of deciphering facts and knowing when lies are being told. What Blair is saying is, the people of Britain weren’t capable of making a decision of this magnitude. He is effectively saying that we the people, didn’t fully understand the consequences of Brexit and that it should be reversed because he believes he knows better.
This seems to be a common view, but this attitude undermines democracy itself. As soon as you begin to question the ability of the people to make decisions, then you are rapidly declining down a path of dictatorship. If Brexit was reversed, it could cause a possible constitutional crisis. If politicians overturned the will of the people, then who are these politicians actually working for?
I was under the illusion that politicians work for the people, represent their views, and carry out their demands. Tony Blair is suggesting that politicians don’t work for the people, and instead do what he wants them to do.
Think long term for a second, if the legitimacy of this referendum is questioned, then isn’t it possible that the legitimacy of the whole democratic system is called into question also? As previously mentioned, the current parliament was elected with only 66.4% turnout. Following this path, could undermine our own government, and democratic system that has existed for centuries- a very dangerous proposition.
The argument perpetuated by some, is that the ‘lies’ told by the Leave campaign have deceived the public. As I’ve already cleared up, the people can decide which claims are lies for themselves. If Tony Blair knew better, why didn’t he enlighten the British public and share his wisdom during the referendum campaign? After all, democracy requires you to make the better case. If lies are being told, explain why you are right, and the rationality of people will drive them to do the right thing.
Wait a second, because Tony Blair DID speak during the referendum campaign, here he is with John Major:
So Tony Blair publicly explained why the Leave campaign was telling lies and offered his own arguments for staying in the EU. He shared his view, and got his time to convince people, but he failed to convince people. His argument was weaker than the case for Brexit, so he lost. It’s called democracy.
What is particularly ironic about the belief that we have been taken into Brexit based on lies, is that Tony Blair is a hypocrite. After all, wasn’t it Tony Blair who took Britain into war in Iraq, based on lies?
Blair is in no position to talk about lies being told, and his arguments make no sense. Nevertheless, he has a right to voice his opinions and share his argument. Just like I have the right to explain why he is wrong- That’s what’s great about democracy!