Saturday, February 18, 2017

No Opposition

You have to respect the 'will of the people'.  It's what democracy is about, apparently.  At least, that's what various of our political leaders, notably May and Corbyn, have taken to preaching.  Although this respect for the 'will of the people' only seems to extend to the results of EU referendums.  When it comes to petitions, signed by significant numbers of the public, to deny Trump a state visit, these can simply be dismissed without even a parliamentary debate.  But the idea that being a democrat means unquestioningly accepting the outcome of public votes - as posited by Jeremy Corbyn in order to justify Labour's failure to oppose Brexit post-referendum - is deeply flawed.  If we follow this argument to its logical conclusion, then opposition parties can surely have no role in a democracy outside of elections.  After all, isn't it their job to spend five years questioning the 'will of the people' for having elected the sitting government?   According to Corbyn's definition of being a democrat, this can't be legitimate, can it? 

In fact, when you came to think of it, if we are are to reduce our definition of democracy to simply accepting the 'will of the people', then we'd only ever need the one general election, wouldn't we?  To hold another would be to question this 'will'. Thankfully, real democratic systems are somewhat more complex than this.  Indeed, the the purpose of a democracy in a pluralist political system like the UK's is less to reflect the 'will of the people than it is to allow competing ideological movements to co-exist by facilitating peaceful and consensual changes of power.  But then that wouldn't bother Corbyn, as he doesn't seem interested in Labour taking power under his leadership.  Which really screws up the system.  As we're seeing right now, without a coherent opposition providing some kind of viable alternative, a government can indulge in all manner of extreme policies, including attempting to undermine the constitution and 'fix' the electoral system to effectively create a one-party state, completely unchallenged.  With the press in the UK so biased and the political opposition non-existent, people have a tendency to simply accept every official utterance as being the absolute 'truth' and fail to appreciate that there are actually alternatives. 



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