Trust the people

"Three cheers for the Irish" said an MP at Prime Minister's Questions this week.  The Irish people had of course rejected the Lisbon Treaty - which is the European Union's new Constitution by another name.

The reaction of the EU's leaders was predictable.  "We shall effectively look for ways to ensure [the Treaty] comes into force", said the Polish Prime Minister, "Irrespective of the results of the referendum in Ireland..."

At least the Irish people had a say, something which was promised to all of us at the election by every candidate standing for every major party - a promise now broken by the Government.

Whenever the public does express a view, the usual response of the EU elites is to demand they vote again until they get it right.  But as David Cameron pointed out, it would be ridiculous to ask the Irish to vote twice when we have not even been allowed to vote once.

When individual referendums were held on this issue in some constituencies recently, the turnout was astonishingly high, and the vote against the Constitution was overwhelming.  If a national vote were held, I think we'd see the same thing again - which is why the Government are desperate to avoid one.

If you trust the people, said Lord Randolph Churchill, they will trust you.  When governments, commissioners, quangos and unelected bureaucrats simply ignore the public, they cause immense damage to democracy, leaving the people disconnected from decision making, with little faith that things will change or their voice will be heard.

The public have largely been ignored when we've marched for hospitals, protested for our post offices or demonstrated for the countryside. "Listen to us", we all cried at one march.  Some hope.

I've just left the Commons chamber where I heard that the European Union (Amendment) Bill has received Royal Assent.  The people's voice has not been heard today, but politicans must know that it will be heard before long - or confidence in our democracy will pay a heavy price.

Michelle Taylor