It’s the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you’re mad, then dangerous, then there’s a pause and then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you – Tony Benn
So, the referendum is over and I can now get back to updating the website a little more. It was an intentional hiatus, as I attempt where possible to make these posts somewhat balanced and impartial. I don’t always succeed, but then neither do most professional news outlets, and I don’t get paid to do it. Had I been posting during the referendum there was no way I would have been able to be impartial, so strong is my view that we have to leave. So I chose not to write anything.
I don’t want to go too deep into my reasons for voting to leave, you will have heard enough of them over the past few months from others, but the main, brief as possible reason ties into the theme of this post. Quite simply I truly believe the way forward for democracy is less government, not more with the people more involved in decision making. Leaving the EU quite simply annihilates an extra layer of government, leaving just our own parliament – which is in desperate need of change itself.
The first change I believe we are in need of is to do away with first past the post, and introduce proportional representation as the election format. The day of the two party state is over, and we need a fairer representation for voters whatever their political leanings. This would also make each vote count, which we saw in the referendum led to greater participation. Political apathy is a huge problem in this country and removing the fact that in some constituencies if you don’t vote for one particular party, you might as well not bother at all, is the first step to changing that.
However, I digress. The clamour that came after the referendum, the one where millions were demanding another vote to change the one we just had, where groups of lawyers and city fat cats are lobbying the government to just outright ignore it, indeed where MP’s like David Lammy, who are elected to serve the will of the people are still demanding that parliament blocks Brexit is what I want to talk about.
This also ties in with the Corbyn Coup that has been attempted over the past few days, or more accurately the disgusting attempts that have been made to ensure he isn’t on the ballot and therefore not a voting option.
These two events are both similar and frightening because of two things. They both have a strong dividing factor – The opinions on Brexit were literally 48/52 you cant get much more polarising than that without a dead heat. In regards to Corbyn, there are those people who believe he is the way forward for the party, and those that believe he is the death of it.
The second similarity is that people from the minority side of the argument, and also some within government, are more than happy to see a genuine vote overturned quite simply because they disagree with the direction it takes them.
I honestly get it, I would be absolutely gutted if we voted to stay in the EU, I understand the fear and pain that this particular change might cause people on the opposite side of the argument. But for democracy to be democracy it has to have winners and losers in decision making. Sometimes if you are on the losing side the changes are particularly hard to stomach. But that is the way it is, the alternative to this isn’t democracy. It’s elitism. A select few individuals that believe their views are more important than others, imposing their will on the majority. Its been tried a lot. Never ends well.
With Corbyn a similar thing appears. They chose to allow voting in leadership elections for £3. They chose to nominate Corbyn as a contender. Then, because people voted en-mass for someone they believe to be the wrong choice, they collude to get rid of him and disqualify him from the voting process in a future leadership challenge.
Both of these attempts at changing a voted for direction were made simply because people think that their decision, their choice, is better than the poor, stupid, deluded masses that made the opposite one.
“Corbynistas are frothy mouthed militants, aiming to crush the Labour party from within. They don’t understand the political landscape”. “Brexiteers are uneducated, stupid racists that have no idea the whirlwind of chaos they have brought on themselves. Poor lambs”. We must show both of these groups the error of their ways and make the decision for them.
The thing is they are none of these things. They are simply people that have decided that the country should operate in a different way to what you do. I’m about as far from a Corbynista as you are likely to get, I don’t think he’s the right choice, but I can see pretty clearly why he is appealing to that type of voter that wants the kind of social changes he is espousing.
Here’s the rub, if enough people want to take the risk of Brexit, or the risk of Corbyn or anything else for that matter. If enough people vote for these things they should happen. We should be aiming to empower our society in making more democratic decisions that will affect their lives. What is happening in these two instances (and in the GE come to think of it) is fellow citizens declaring their vote matters more.
We could grow on the referendum and empower people to take massive decisions more often. Of course there will be a lot of things that we can’t, things we leave up to elected officials, but we could do it for a hell of a lot more than we do at the moment. These recent decisions are only divisive because we are not used to being able to influence such far reaching change and because the powers that be are too used to getting what they want.
Does giving people more power mean that we will always get it right? Of course not. No-one in life, leaders or voters can ever hope to get it right all the time. Some decisions will be bad, but some might just be the far reaching change that so many have been clamouring for over the past two decades, and now seem so terrified to grasp.
The alternative is just to let life carry on with certain people knowing their voice counts for nothing. Letting MPs and other establishment figures call all the shots, towering over us like the lords and masters they seem to want to be. I’m not too sure that has worked out so well since around 2003 to be fair. The Iraq war and the decisions leading up to the financial crisis are responsible for untold misery across the globe.
There will be people reading this thinking “are you mad? We just let the people have more say and look at the way they voted!”. If this is you, then you are my point.
Of course, the great thing is you might well disagree with me on all the above. Think its absolute cobblers and representative democracy is much better. But if these changes are ever proposed at least we can have a vote on it. I promise not to campaign to have it overturned if you win.