Democracy as mob rule
If I remember once before I blogged on this but it is early in the morning and too tired to check. Democracy, in the form od a simple majority made Northern Ireland a mess because the Protestants always won. Some stability and fairness only came in with a power-sharing agreement.
There are two situations now where "democracy" is being used to justify a particular course of action. The first is Brexit where people are arguing we have to accept the majority vote. We had exactly the same vote 40 odd years ago. but that was obviously not binding, although a much bigger support for staying in then. So why is this vote binding? There is an argument that there was a simple and clear choice but there was not. Nobody knows what the consequences of leaving are and nobody knows how hard it will be to reverse the decision. In one sense coming out is easy, we can just say get stuffed to Europe and spend the next 10 years negotiating various deals though as far as trade goes we would revert to basic WTO rules. As to many other things who knows and in some cases who cares. Probably on any one issue very few but for those few it could be life changing.But a more serious complication is what happens if in 5 years there is a majority who want to go back in! Will we have to start entry negotiations again, will we have yet another referendum. Would UKIP have accepted the decision if is had gone the other way, 16 million vote to leavse and 17 million to stay? Of course not they would have resolved to fight on and would have found another pretext to campaign again. The only honourable thing to do is to fight for another referendum before we finally leave.
Next we come to the Labour Party and the claims that Jeremy Corbyn cannot be challenged because he won a clear majority in the election for leader. He has been leader for over 6 months and clearly many people who have to work with him in parliament feel he has failed. Does that mean that they have to support him despite this just because he was elected? If Britain had elected Roy Hodgson as manager of the England football team would it be wrong to have called for him to go just because he had been elected. If the vote of no confidence had been 110-100 there might be an argument for him staying but to have managed to alienate some many Labour MP's shows disastrous leadership qulities and suggest to me that he would be a disastrous Prime Minister. Whether members of the Labour Party like it or not, I am a member, MP's see much more of him than we do and it would be unwise not to liten to them. I used to work in a University where heads of departments were elected by the faculty in that department. On the whole it worked well because those voting knew the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates at first hand, They did away with it because the system removed power from the Vice-Chancellor, sometimes they voted for someone the VC didn't approve, though the two most notorious examples were very successful heads.
Democracy should never be used to justify mob rule or a claim to legitmacy that doesn't exist.
Labels: Politics and democracy