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UK DEMOCRACY ON LIFE SUPPORT

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If they were honest – a concept that a large number of our politicians now seem to have a significant problem with – many Members of Parliament would openly admit that they really do not much like the idea of democracy unless it provides the answers that they want.

It does appear that honest politicians are becoming almost as common as unicorns. When I question the honesty of politicians, I am not suggesting that they are acting in a way that is illegal, or unlawful.

I merely suggest that many of them no longer behave with honesty and integrity; they neither honour their election manifesto pledges nor do they honestly represent the views of their constituents.

If they had even a shred of integrity, then the likes of Boles, Grieve and Soubry, would have resigned their seats in Parliament and submitted to a by-election.

They have of course done no such thing.

So just what is a democracy? There are many and various definitions, my preferred choice, which is by no means intended to be definitive, is:

“A system of government by the whole population, or all the eligible members of a state (the electorate), typically through elected representatives.”

I think that the words of Abraham Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, sum up the issue of democracy very eloquently “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

In very simple terms, I take that to mean that our elected representatives govern on our behalf, but only with our consent and taking full account of our views. As a democrat (please note the lower case ‘d’), I believe this means that, in a democracy, politicians have an unequivocal duty to honestly represent and respect the views of their constituents and the electorate.

If a politician is unable, or unwilling to fulfil these duties then he/she should resign. The European Commission doesn’t appear to much care for, or respect, democracy. Sadly, it increasingly seems that our Prime Minister is of like mind with the Commission.

Many politicians do not appear to like this concept of democratic governance, or government, at all. They want to rule the population and they want to impose, without let or hindrance, their views and opinions on the people; they crave power, which sounds very much like autocracy to me.

When I speak of politicians, I am by no means just referring to the United Kingdom. There are many so-called democracies that might do well to take a long and very hard look at their “democratic” system of government. For the avoidance of doubt, I would remind readers that “Govern” should never be confused with, or interpreted as, “Rule”; autocrats rule, whereas democrats govern. I’m not suggesting that democracy is perfect; I doubt if there is a ‘perfect’ system of government. However, in the absence of anything better, democracy does seem to work quite well.

In 2016 the UK’s politicians, in both Houses of Parliament, delegated the decision as to whether the UK should remain in the EU to the electorate; a momentous issue that clearly crossed traditional Party boundaries, so the decision to delegate it to the electorate through a referendum wasn’t unreasonable.

But we now have the bad news; our parliamentarians (Commons and Lords) didn’t like the result of the referendum. Since the result was announced, most of our politicians have shown their almost total disdain for the will of the electorate. Our Prime Minister apparently prefers grovelling to the EU Commission and the EU 27 to implementing the referendum result. She is by no means alone; the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t seem much inclined to implement the referendum result either. Such now is the parlous state of Government in one of the World’s oldest democracies.

Much has been made by politicians, across the political spectrum, of the supposed fact that the UK electorate didn’t really understand what it was voting for in 2016. The arrogance of this proposition beggars belief. Let us consider a few known facts:

  1. We were being asked to vote for leaving the European Union, or remaining in it;
  2. We knew that a vote to leave would mean leaving the Customs Union;
  3. We knew that a vote to leave meant leaving the Single Market;
  4. We knew that a vote to leave meant regaining control of our borders; and,
  5. An end to unlimited Freedom of Movement for EU citizens.

We knew this to be the case because the politicians and pundits told us so. We were also told by the very same politicians and pundits that if we voted to leave:

  • An emergency budget would be needed;
  • The housing market would collapse; and,
  • The economy would go into recession.

Almost three years on and not one of these dire predictions has come to pass. By the same token, neither has the UK left the EU. Despite this our politicians expect us to believe and trust them.

I fear that democracy in the United Kingdom is if not dying then certainly in need of intensive care and many of our elected politicians do not appear to care! Perhaps it is time for fewer ‘career’ politicians?

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