Oct 092019
 

You probably will not be surprised that I do not agree with the hypothesis that blocking Brexit is “undemocratic”. Twitter trolls are rampantly gaslighting anything that looks like it supports blocking Brexit by accusing anything that criticises the current Brexit process as undemocratic.

In the referendum, I voted remain but would be quite content to see Brexit under the deal that was promised by the Leave campaigners. I would still oppose it and immediately it was complete would be campaigning to re-join the EU.

But we don’t have a deal that resembles what was promised (the fact it was an unrealistic promise is irrelevant); the EU has declared a deal looks to be impossible and there are reasonable suspicions that the government is angling for a no-deal Brexit.

Which is not what was promised.

And according to the government’s own realistic (not worst-case) scenario of what would happen with a no-deal Bexit, would include significant economic disruption, shortages of food, medicine and other essentials, and possibly rioting in the streets.

The referendum was legally an advisory result which means that it can be ignored by Parliament according to our democratic constitution. And yet Parliament is not ignoring the result – it is insisting that the government makes a deal that Parliament approves of, or seeks an extension – neither blocks Brexit.

And here is so much that was dodgy about the referendum that if it were binding, it may well have been overturned by the courts :-

  1. Collectively the leavers exceeded the spending limits sufficiently to collect in the region of £300,000 in fines. That inevitably had an effect on the result – campaigners wouldn’t spend money if it wasn’t effective.
  2. Numerous reports have emerged indicating the Russian interference with the referendum.
  3. Leaver lies. The trolls would have you believe that the remainers also lied, but I have yet to see anything credible that would lead me to agree. And even if they did, lies invalidate the result.

Recent opinion polls show a clear (if narrow) majority in favour of remaining within the EU :-

If you are going to say that ignoring the referendum result is undemocratic, then I’m going to say that ignoring the will of the people today is undemocratic. 

And finally, to repeat myself, Parliament is not blocking Brexit. It is instead requiring that Boris the Bodger produces a deal with the EU that Parliament can approve of, or that he seeks an extension; the only people suggesting revoking article 50 (without another referendum) are the Liberals after an election.

Jul 172019
 

Trump’s twitch. No not that one, the tweet about certain congresspeople “going home” (despite the fact that of the four women targeted, three were born in the USA).

Quite rightly it has been labelled as “racist” but without meaning to minimise that criticism, that is a personal insult to the four women (and we can get outraged on their behalf). But something that has been less pronounced: it’s also an insult to every single voter who elected those four women.

Trump was criticising those four women because they are criticising US government policy; as duly elected representatives and part of the US government, they are doing what they were elected to do. Criticising those women for doing their job is essentially saying they are not entitled to do their job and in turn those who voted for them are not entitled to their say.

And this attack on democracy is as important to highlight as the racism.

May 152009
 

So we have had a week since the Daily Telegraph stretched out the entrails of the mother of Parliaments for the public to pick over, and what has happened ? Not a lot.

A few MPs have paid some money back as though they had been caught sneaking biscuits out of the jar from their mother’s kitchen. A tiny number have lost their second job.

Has anyone been fired ? Has anyone been suspended pending an investigation ? Are the allegedly corrupt MPs still able to vote in Parliament ?

The majority of MPs who previously sat idly by whilst a few were riding the gravy train as hard as they could are now just standing around whinging about how the public is assuming that all MPs are corrupt. They are not actually doing anything constructive like refusing to cooperate with the Parliamentary process until the “corrupt” ones are excluded.

The key here is quick action … not waiting for some careful review to come up with something in a few months, but action now. It does not have to be permanent action – simply exclude those “corrupt” MPs and appoint a bunch of real vicious individuals as a review board, and make the “corrupt” MPs explain their mistakes in front of the board and explain why they should be allowed to continue as an MP. Sure that is harsh on the border-line cases, but being harsh in these circumstances is good.

And if at the end of the review process everyone is still an MP, the political system may never recover.

More ridiculously, the Tories seem to have decided that what really gets up the nose of the public is the cost of the political system. It is really rather amusing to watch the Tory leadership run off down the wrong road as fast as they can for political advantage because it is not the cost that is annoying the public, it is the tendency for some MPs to milk the expenses system for as much as they can get.

One of their suggestions to reduce the cost of the political system is to reduce the number of MPs … this sounds to me like an attempt at reducing the amount of democracy we have in this country. With our ‘first past the post’ system, the more people an MP represents, the less representative he (or she) is of their constituents. If you compare (using some very rough figures) the number of people each MP represented in 1800 and today, you get one MP for every 15,000 people in 1800 and one MP for every 100,000 people today.

That sounds to me like a gradual erosion of how democratic Parliament is supposed to be (and yes I know that the 1800 MPs were probably more corrupt and less representative than today’s). We need more MPs not less.

Jun 292007
 

Well the answer to that question is not very … we elect representatives who make the necessary decisions on our behalf. Of course we’re a lot more democratic than some other places, and less that some others. For the record we’re probably more democratic than the ancient historical source of the idea of democracy … Athens. The Athens city state was only democratic if you were rich and male.

We happened to have had two examples of exactly how undemocratic the UK is this week … the resignation of Tony Blair and his replacement as Prime Minister by Gordon Brown, and the defection of Quentin Davies from the Conservative party to the Labour party.

The constituents of Grantham & Stamford are probably somewhat taken aback at finding themselves represented by a Labour MP; after all they were under the impression that they had voted for a Conservative MP. Well, no they hadn’t really … they really voted for Quentin Davies through thick and thin, and officially the party he belongs to is irrelevant. Of course his constituents might disagree, but their only avenue of complaint is when he tries to get re-elected.

Similarly nobody voted for Gordon Brown as Prime Minister. We all knew he was going to get into the hot seat of course … unlike Mr Grey’s (John Major) coup d’état where he replaced Margaret Thatcher. We didn’t have any say in the matter … the largest party’s leader is always (by convention) asked by the Monarch to become the Prime Minister. We may think that we are electing a Prime Minister (and the politicians encourage this), but really we ave no say in the matter except in having some influence on what party becomes the largest.

Does this need reforming ? Well perhaps, although there is always a danger in reform that we make things less stable. I think at the very least MPs who leave their party should resign their seat because we really are not living in a time where each MP acts more or less independantly.

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