When David Cameron first became Prime Minister, he proposed finding a way of measuring our happiness as a nation. The plan which was estimated to cost some £2M was that from April 2011, the Office for National Statistics would ask people to rate their own well-being and that the first official happiness index was due to be published in 2012. Cameron first floated the idea of a “happiness index” in 2005, when he was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party’. He argued that gross domestic product (GDP) – the standard measure of economic activity used around the world – is no longer up to the job. Although as far as I recall the Happiness Index did not get published, according to the latest Government proposal, how we all feel about policy and law making matters. No matter how good or bad the laws we are subject to, if we feel unhappy and rejected by the hard work and due diligence of our law makers, then we will have the right to get the laws changed. The Government will get the ONS to create a feelings index and any laws that fail to pass the feelings threshold will be abolished. Thank goodness at last our Government has woken up to the fact that our feelings matter and they can be used to test laws. Oh hang on, I may have misunderstood. I was reading the latest Government white paper and sort of drifted off. The paper does state in paragraph 2.1 under the heading of Sovereignty:
“The sovereignty of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution. Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that. The extent of EU activity relevant to the UK can be demonstrated by the fact that 1,056 EU-related documents were deposited for parliamentary scrutiny in 2016. These include proposals for EU Directives, Regulations, Decisions and Recommendations, as well as Commission delegated acts, and other documents such as Commission Communications, Reports and Opinions submitted to the Council, Court of Auditors Reports and more.”
So as a result of our nation apparently feeling that our sovereignty has been diminished, our Government is committing us to leave the EU. Now to be fair they did test our feelings at the ballot box back in June and certainly the rhetoric regarding the issue from both campaigns was much more about feelings, than it was about facts. However whereas David Camerons Happiness Index was estimated to cost £2M to establish and in any case quickly got recycled, the Feelings response is estimated to cost anywhere between £30Bn and £250Bn. I confess I don’t feel very happy about that or about our decision to leave. However I suspect my feelings and those of some 17M people don’t actually matter!