So, it appears that the UK now has a ‘parliament’ where most members don’t actually understand their job description or the nature of representative democracy itself.
At its most basic, their duty is to represent their local electorate, not blindly, but through the filter of their judgement and experience, to balance and reconcile what is actually in the best interests of the constituency and of the country as a whole. There, there is a system, evolved over a millennium or so, that has put them where they are, to be the buffer between the baying of the wilfully uninformed, the ill-intentioned and the fear-driven, and the common good. That system now seems to have been abandoned, in the name of bigotry, personal agendas and party dogma.
Right now, and even setting basic economics aside, Britain is cutting itself adrift from a bastion of shared democratic values, one which is more needed now than ever in its history. It also heightens the risk of creating a self-fulfiling prophecy that leads to the further disintegration of Europe through the encouragement of xenophobia, bigotry and fascism.
There is much that is wrong with the grand European project, but our alternative – the Churchillian option – would have been to show leadership and engagement, to reform and renew it from the inside. Instead, we now find ourselves scrabbling around under the global dining table, trying to pick up the crumbs that others deign to drop. Our new best friends apparently are the authoritarian regime in Turkey and the proto-fascist one in the USA. Nicely played. Now place your bets on how long it’ll be before Kim Jong-Un is invited for a state visit.
I will not however be wagering against the prospect of a second indyref in Scotland or on its outcome.
This is a rant. It is not however a partisan one: democracy needs diversity. It needs those who believe in big government and those who believe in small government. It needs free marketeers and interventionists. Above all it needs choice, But that choice has to be based on debate, not dogma. For that it needs respect between those of differing viewpoints, that respect being based on a common subscription to the core values of equality of tolerance and of compassion. Without those, and without that base of common values, we can only decline. This isn’t even a zero sum game: here, nobody wins, even if the posturing demagogues and their sycophants, all of whom have chosen to operate outside those core values, are too stunted to understand that for themselves.