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Just a place for the odd thoughts, updates, and the detritus of my mind that doesn't belong on social media.

Showing posts tagged politics

Posted: Aug 29th, 8:12am

Representative Democracy

The current chaotic meltdown of UK Parliamentary Democracy has got me wondering whether we wouldn't all have been better off learning about how the Governemnt works at school instead of — I don't know — how ATP is used in cells, or how to speak French. Not that I didn't enjoy the Biology (less so the modern languages) but that much of the current crisis in the UK seems to be driven by downright ignorancy of how our democracy works.

If you dare the murky waters of Facebook or Twitter today, or God forbid the comments sections of British newspapers online, you'll see again and again the idea that "Traitorous Remain MPs are betraying Democracy!"

Let's leave aside for a moment the hyperbolic langauge, the fascist stylings, the predictable and terrifying calls for violence, and concentrate on the core idea that, by blocking a No Deal Brexit (or Brexit as a whole, these members of parliament are somehow "betraying" anything. It seems to me that such an idea comes from simply not grasping how British Democracy actually works.

Here's what I wish I could make the posters of these horrifying messages understand:

How it Works

The UK has a Representative Democracy. We do not make decisions by plebiscite or referrendum — unlike some other countries. Instead we elect Members of Parliament whose duty is to represent the views, and the best interests, of the people who live in their constituencies (and not just the people who voted for them, however much political parties would like to believe otherwise). We do so firstly because we presume our MPs to be more capable (by dint of doing it full time) of understanding these issues than we are, and secondly because it is impracticable or impossible to seek the opinion of the people at all times.

The UK is not ancient Athens. We don't ask the people (in Athens' case that meant rich male land owners) to make laws or vote on every issue. We let the Representatives decide.

In 2016 a referrendum was held to guage the public's...