One of the things that felt the most wrong about the thirteen years of Labour government was the feeling of helplessness: the sense that things were marching inexorably onwards and there was nothing that you could do about it.
CCTV, speed cameras, national ID cards, Europe… There was a mood amongst vast swathes of decent hard-working people that however strongly they felt or however nonsensical the direction seemed, Labour would keep us heading in that direction. Resistance was futile.
The recent judgement by the European Court of Justice that drivers buying insurance should not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender has that same feeling about it. It is clearly nonsense to argue that better drivers on the whole should not pay lower premiums. You can read that argument in any of the papers and right across the blogosphere. Combine that with the judgement by the European Court of Human Rights that prisoners should be allowed the vote, and we get that same gut-wrenching sense of unfairness.
Add to it the absurd notion that Europe will now dictate how much in benefits asylum seekers should be able to claim, and you clearly have an absurd position.
Whether we like it or not, the purpose of these institutions was to provide clear legal guidance away from the political mores of an individual nation state. But what we have instead is a group of unelected people putting their political mores ahead of our own people's wishes. Insurance firms will be forced to ignore impartial statistical evidence and instead impose a penalty on young, safer female drivers. As many other people have argued over the last couple of weeks, this decision has a knock-on effect for pensions, life assurance and other areas that previously worked absolutely fine without interference from above.
Before the election David Cameron spoke frequently about the need to change our relationship with Europe – to change the way that we deal with decisions imposed by European institutions. While we cannot single-handedly make the ECHR or the ECJ see sense, what we can do is to stop the feeling of helplessness. As the votes for prisoners issue shows, our people care deeply about the right to make their own laws, in keeping with their own opinions.
And that’s what this is all about. It’s not about an oppressive European superstate, or even about unelected judges. It’s about showing the British people that when it really matters we can change things, we are not resigned to our fate, supine and helpless but that we can take charge and put a stop to things that are just plain wrong.