Sovereignty is a matter of degree

This is a copy of a letter recently sent to a newspaper though I regret have lost the reference as to which.
Its destination is not important but its sentiment is.
We have someone here from a very small (rather attractive, if I recall correctly) town of about 5,000 in Bedfordshire, who considers sovereignty beyond price.

Like charity, sovereignty begins at home.
So Roger’s sovereignty is undoubtedly already likely to be compromised.
Probably he has a wife and children so that is his first problem. Even if he doesn’t does he refuse to deal with Shefford Town Council?

And what about Bedfordshire County Council?
I think we might have heard if he had refused to pay his Council tax.
Sovereignty is a matter of degree.

It seems as though Roger wants Parliament to look more like the highest court in the land, though of course it has always been and remains so – whether we leave the EU or not. It just means that Parliament may cede, by agreement, a little of its control to the European Court of Justice, the European Commission or even Bedfordshire County Council.

Clearly Roger didn’t mean that sovereignty was beyond price but that sovereignty has its price. His price is drawing the line under Brussels to include Westminster and Bedfordshire County Council. And to make himself, and others, poorer.

It is often said that North Korea is the the most fearlessly sovereign and independant country in the world. It too, is poor. Yet, remuneration aside, even that hasn’t been going too well of late has it Roger?

Now I’ve given up on Kim jong-un, but how do we persuade Roger to widen his horizons?

Perhaps in a spirit of compromise, Roger might be ideally placed to give a little help to Mr Trump  with his reponsibilities – he might wish to use this simple map as a start?

If they did have a chat they might both realise that sovereignty is always a matter of degree and definitely has its price.



  1. phil mcdermott -

    Oh Roger. Now your view is public and there for all to see. When relatives as yet unborn seek their ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ dreams of antecedents displaying courage in war or resilience in their fight for the Abolition of Slavery, or even royal connections – they will find this. I predict a tearful episode prompting a reassessment of their oral family history: an episode made dull by trawling through back rooms of destroyed libraries and crumbling universities, subversive chats with house servants of super-rich elites and a eureka moment that needs the context of explaining that there was once an independent press that published letters.
    Oh Roger. You didn’t really think this through. Poverty is the extreme example of the violent ripping away of sovereignty from a person. To advocate sovereignty by tolerating its nemesis is very silly. Still, there’s plentiful redemption with genuine remorse and a firm purpose of amendment. All the best old fruit.

    1. Peter May -

      Good point well made on poverty..

  2. Geoff Plant -

    What does Roger mean, ………… In the Tories “great repeal bill” there is a clause, deep in the small print which, if passed, will prevent British Citizens from prosecuting the government on any decision, policy or law they choose make thereby putting the government above, and outside of the law. Politicians will become unaccountable for their actions rendering democracy ineffectual and the neoliberal power dream complete. Brexit is being used by our extreme right wing politician to remove the most basic of human rights and what’s left of our democratic vote!

    1. Peter May -

      There is as you say, this provision, though as I understood it it was to prevent people bringing a case because the government had not instituted EU law even though they have (had) to incorporate it into English law for the time being at least. I still agree it is a backward step, but I presume it will not prevent judicial review.

  3. AdrianKent -

    How about sovereignty being best placed at the extent of a currency issuing nation state so that it can introduce capital controls, nationalisations and Green-PQE funded direct state intervention when the next GFC takes place?

    Would that make that state richer or poorer in the long-run? I suspect that it would tend towards the richer – which is why a line drawn somewhere below Brussels is appropriate.

    All the analysis concluding that ‘we’ are all going to be poorer post Brexit seems to assume that there won’t be another crash in the short-to-medium-term. Which is more than a little surprising, given how we’ve got here.

    1. Peter May -

      That is a fair argument. But when most of the UK economy is a service economy it has to be transformed into a more manufacturing based one if capital controls are not to shoot ourselves in the foot – or rather higher!
      Nationalisations (Mr Macron, the arch European has just nationalised a shipbuilder) and green QE are all possible now in the EU.
      If we stayed in the EU we could still, as I understand it, have Capital controls for outside the EU so we could start there. We don’t need to leave.
      Any crash is really independant of the EU – the financial system is still globally entwined and the 2008 one came as we know from the US.

  4. AdrianKent -

    Thanks for the reply.

    I’m not sure that capital controls would necessarily ‘shoot ourselves in the foot’ after the next GFC (where ever it comes from) – they will be an essential tool in ensuring that investment after the event (government, Green QE and otherwise) ‘sticks around’ in the real economy when we start digging ourselves out of the mire. Their imposition at the edge of the huge expanse of the EU with all it’s various accounting practices and porous borders would render them essentially meaningless anyway.

    I’d actually go further than that and would say that their current absence already hobbles us – free movement of capital was the one of the ‘Four Freedoms’ that didn’t get a look in at all in any of the debates prior to the referendum, but it’s the one that most certainly does the most harm (from tax abuse, rent-extraction, short-termism, pro-cyclical volatility, excessive financialisation etc).

    It looked like Cameron’s ‘concessions’ for the City of London would only have served to make this worse.

    I take your point regarding the French buy-out of the shipyard, but I’d thing that was likely as clear an example of a ‘strategic’ investment as there could be as far as the EU and ECJ goes (if you consider the building of monstrous, soon-to-be-obsolete, missile-target hulks as a coherent strategy of course). It’s also a very clear example of the ‘do as we do, not as we say’ mentality that seems to be par for the course for the big-players, which isn’t at all appealing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect the next few years to be difficult, but I think the outcome outside is likely to be better – or at least less worse in the long-run.

  5. Peter May -

    Wish I had your relative confidence…
    In the end even if leaving is not in itself a disaster, I’m as sure as I can be that the WAY our completely incompetent government is leaving will make it so!

  6. AdrianKent -

    No arguments as to the incompetence of our government from me, but we can shift them in 5 years (likely sooner with this shower).

    It’s the kind of competence that considers 30 to 50% youth unemployment as a price worth paying when the wheels come off that I fear.

  7. Peter May -

    Have had a moment to read your paper above where
    “Brexit offers a clear once in a generation opportunity to revitalise democracy and restore accountable government.”
    It might perhaps. But at the moment our home secretary has had I think three UK judicial instructions to release a prisoner which she has failed to comply with
    We don’t need the EU rules to stop accountability -our government manages that perfectly well on its own!
    We need to revitalise our democracy yes – but I cannot see how Brexit provides any real help. It is true that one party will be removed from the blame game – but that is just that, a game. If we are to prosper we cannot untie ourselves from our European moorings. So we’ll still be subject to most of the EU’s rules – just not have any chance to make them. If our ‘democracy’ is actually any good I fear leaving the EU won’t magically make it better.

    and given that it will make us materially poorer won’t help

  8. Andrew -

    I believe that Roger Smith recently stood as a UKIP candidate for the Shefford seat on Bedfordshire Council.

    Roger Smith of Shefford seems to write letters to the editor of the Telegraph quite often. That letter was published by the Telegraph on 10 July.
    The colour of his ink is not disclosed.

    1. Peter May -

      Thank you. Interesting.
      I have to confess, with a degree of shame, that if I’d known he was UKIP I might never have written about him… Still at least his simple letter was provocative!

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