Andy Mac

There are often new words created on the hoof that go on to make a major impact on our everyday discourse. For example, 15 years ago nobody had ever heard of ‘Brexit’. Thanks to our vote to depart from the European Union, ‘Brexit’ experienced a 3,400% increase in usage in 2016 alone, before going on to be named Oxford Children’s Word of the Year in 2019. Since then we’ve had terms like ‘econanxiety’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘gender reveal’ thanks to the phenomena that have affected or blighted our society depending upon your point of view.

I’d like to add one of my own: ‘DINO’. It’s not a word as such, or even a portmanteau. No, this is my very own anacronym created to define one of the key problems behind the parlous state of our country and political system as we near the end of 2022. It stands for ‘Democracy in Name Only’.  There are two key ingredients to the functioning of any successful model of democracy – be it one of mass enfranchisement for the creation of a sovereign government, or one restricted to eligible members of an organisation when electing a new leader. The first is obviously fairness. The second is the essential requirement for ‘losers consent’. That means those who participate in a given democratic exercise must accept the potential of being on the losing side. The first time this sine quo non was broken here in the UK came after the Scottish ‘independence’ (I’m using inverted commas deliberately here, by the way) referendum in 2014. Having promised participants their vote would be ‘once in a generation/lifetime’ and fully respected, the SNP subsequently set about contriving one reason after another why Scotland should be given another opportunity to destroy the United Kingdom. Whereas a biased mainstream media were keen to present Brexit as the main catalyst for a second referendum, readers with clear heads will recall the SNP – like most separatists – wanted repeated attempts at cleaving their domain out of the Union.

What began with the SNP in September 2014 continued on steroids when the UK voted to leave the European Union two years later. The largest democratic vote in the history of this nation was not only hobbled by a venal parliament determined to wear down the public’s clear desire by a series of devious and deceitful moves in the aftermath, it continues to this day with significant elements of the Establishment Blob misrepresenting the consequences of COVID lockdown hysteria as somehow organically related to being outside the EU. Inconvenient facts such as the European Union’s record deficit or comparably rampant inflation are swept under the proverbial carpet as the press and the broadcast news sought (and seek) to ‘re-educate’ we ‘ignorant proles’ as to the folly of our Brexit endeavor. As I’ve suggested before, the British MSM are now intoxicated by their previous successes of instilling fear during the COVID pandemic and in spooking a craven government into acting in haste to keep lockdown restrictions far longer than necessary. However, when you add to that poisonous mixture the sight of backbench Conservatives aping Remainers and Scottish nationalists in their desire to get their own way in the absence of common consent, you create further disillusionment with the whole concept of democracy and the participation of people thereof.  

To what am I referring when I talk of the Conservative Party? Why, it’s the speedy defenestration of its former leader Liz Truss. A person whose election to the leadership back in September was obtained by the endorsement of a clear majority of the party’s membership. The rules in electing a Tory leader have been established since 1998 under William Hague. Candidates put forward their names and each one with the fewest backbench votes is eliminated in succession until only two remain. Party members are then balloted, with the winner announced by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. Never has any Conservative leader, let alone a Prime Minister of any hue, been subjected to such a shameful and merciless coup as the one Truss experienced within just six weeks of her entering 10 Downing Street. Whilst it is true to say the impetuousness of her and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget was a lesson in how not to practice good government and wise counsel, was it worse than the ERM fiasco in September 1992, when the country was forced to withdraw sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), after a failed attempt to keep our currency above the lower limit required for ERM participation? Was it as bad as when the UK went cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund in 1976, as Callaghan presided over inflation at 25%? Neither of those seismic events caused the usurpation of the sitting PM, so why was Liz Truss any different? The fact is the economy was already trashed long before Truss ever assumed the highest political office in the land. Rishi Sunak was the Chancellor who authorized the printing of money, the furlough schemes and the almost endless borrowing to keep the UK economy on life support. Having contributed more debt to this country than probably any predecessor, he then became the media’s chosen candidate to allegedly cure all ills. And why? Because, for the media and Tory backbenchers alike, technocratic managerialism in the form of ‘boring politics’ is more important than either the ‘crudity of populism’ embodied by the election of Boris Johnson in 2019, or else the democratic judgement of those in Tory associations when they opted for Liz Truss. 

I’ll say it plainly: Rishi Sunak is a man whose ability to be Prime Minister rests on a Conservative majority won principally by a predecessor he stabbed in the back; as well as being a victor whose primary supporters were happy to junk the verdict of the same ordinary members who do the donkey work for parliamentary candidates at election time. Those ordinary members have learned a very valuable lesson from the disgraceful antics of the past few weeks: Namely that their choice in a free and fair vote can be overridden by a bad combination of media agitprop working hand-in-glove with parliamentarians bathing in self-righteous arrogance. When losers no longer consent to democratic decisions, what we are left with is what I stated at the very beginning of this article. It’s Democracy in Name Only. A world where pallid politics is preferable to democratic dynamism; where tedious technocracy trumps populist participation; but most astonishingly of all, a world where losers become winners and winners are cast to the political version of Room 101. If, come the next General Election, Conservative MPs seeking re-election find their constituency associations bereft of willing volunteers, it might help them reflect as to how such a scenario came to be. People do not reconcile easily to having their judgements ignored by others who then come to think their loyalty would still be a given. Life doesn’t work like that.