Monday 20th August
Sometimes indeed Democracy is the problem. Not the concept of Democracy, but it’s implementation. The idea indeed that Winner takes all. Democracy should be about both involving everyone and trying to take account of all differing views in decision making. But because of the mechanics and the lack of any form of Proportional Representation in electing members of Parliament we never have a Government which represents a majority of votes cast, or even one backed by more than 40% of those who voted. Governments then declare that they have a mandate for their actions, even when these were never mentioned before the election itself.
However, we also face other problems with Democracy. Brexit itself has been declared a success of Democracy; but as the complexities of the negotiations unravel more and more people, even many who voted originally to Leave, are questioning the un-Democratic way that that decision is being implemented, with all sides of the debate appropriating for their own arguments a Democratic mandate.
But there is a further problem with Democracy in that now all the major Political parties have given the final (and often the entire) say in electing their Leaders to their members. This has, and will inevitably, result in leaders being chosen who are more radical in their Political views than the general public. Anyone deciding to become a member of a Political party is almost bound to have more Politically extreme views than the general public; Labour party members are more left-wing, and Tory members are more right-wing than the general public. In fact, of course, most people are not that bothered about Politics at all, or at least until a General Election; and then the majority will vote the way they always or recently have. Sea changes, and huge landslides are rarer than one would think. Only two really in my lifetime – one, when Mrs. Thatcher won her second term after the Falklands (and even then, this may have had more to do with the SDP than people voting Tory), and Tony Blair in 1997, after 18 years of the Conservatives.
But now we have a left-wing leader of Labour, who, whatever you think of his policies, would never have been elected before ‘one member one vote’. The Tory party appears to be shaping up for a Leadership election too, as soon as Brexit (of whatever variety) is finally declared. Already there are calls for thousands of Leave voters to join the Tory party so that they can vote in a ‘True Brexiteer’ such as Boris or Rees-Moggs. So, in the name of ‘Democracy’ our Politics will be more divisive than ever. And whoever wins the next election will again declare a mandate despite in all probability winning about 40% of the vote and possibly having to cobble together a coalition of sorts. And we call that Democracy.