by John Ward
If you lose an election in the 21st century, the only solution is to demand more democracy.
According to new research from pollsters BMG, potential Labour supporters “overwhelmingly demand” radical action to “increase democracy at Westminster”. They don’t of course: it’s just that the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) commissioned the research to make a point about the idiotic voting system we employ in the UK, and Corbynite Labour is very keen on having more of what they think democracy is….ie, using Stalinist purges to get rid of democratically elected MPs they don’t think are “democratic” enough.
It is a tragedy that such calls have dominated much of this year’s political news, given that those demanding and yelling about democracy are almost always such frightful abusers of it themselves. In terms of both its ideological ethos and infiltration tactics, Momentum is about as democratic as Yuri Andropov. It is in fact an unconscious irony on their part that Corbynistas like Owen Jones use verbs like “must” and “demand”: it really isn’t the best starting point from which to develop a more rounded and inclusive form of democracy….especially if you’re using élite selection voting to exclude Party members who don’t agree with you.
Nevertheless, this re-presents an old problem for Jeremy of Islington. I have twice this year earned the ire of screamy-yelly Labour by pointing out that, for a man who himself spouts endlessly about democracy, Corbyn doesn’t want to replace FPTP with a balanced form of proportional representation. A reasonably bright seven-year-old could see why (it would encourage new alternatives to Labour) but this is dismissed by the Momentumians as an unfair attack upon the Nazarene.
However, other voices at the harder end of Left want something done: Shavanah Taj, Welsh TUC President – a Muslim woman and early supporter of Corbyn – said, “There is a growing realisation that politics cannot continue as it is if we want it to work for the many. The discussions at Labour conference should form a valuable basis on which to build a democratic agenda, one where power is shared and the elitist Westminster model is reformed at last.”
Hmm, oops. I doubt very much if this will suit Jezzer any more than staying in the EU is really what he wants.
The EU itself turned its pro-democracy venom against Hungary the week before last – an obscene Room 101 hypocrisy dealt with elsewhere at The Slog. At Salzburg, its appetite for more of the d-word encouraged cleverly publicised support for a People’s Vote to stop Brexit; or put another way, to overturn a previous majority saying Yes to Brexit. This is, as any foule know, a form of corrective democracy in which the EU bigwigs specialise. This from the Belgian answer to Ernst Röhm – Der Stürmer himself, Guy Verhofstadt:
The EU didn’t adopt that title until 1992, by which time the former EEC and then EC was already 37 years old. No authoritarian régime was formed in Europe during that time, in fact fully seven collapsed as a result of dictatorships ended in Spain and Portugal, and the demise of the unlamented USSR. The only authoritarian régime to emerge since 1992 has been the federalist European Union itself…which has chosen to pick fights with Russia, the Ukraine, ClubMed, Hungary, Poland, Italy and Great Britain – while allowing mass African migration turbulence into the EU, and trying to to tempt the genuine Islamic fascist Recep Erdogan into the fold.
Affronted by what she called “a lack of respect for British democracy”, after the Salzburg attentat Theresa May made a point of presenting herself as a guardian of the sort of democratic values which (she rightly hinted) are sorely missing in the Brussels cabal. While I applauded her tone of “fuck you” in the Downing Street foot-stamping performance, the idea of this woman joining the call for more democracy was enough to send me spiralling into a bottle of Pineau de Charentes graciously donated by two recent visitors to Sloggers’ Roost.
Theresa’s history as first of all a Home Secretary gone instantly freedom-crushing native – and then an unelected Tory Leader/Prime Minister – reads like an idiot’s guide to usurping democratic process. Defying a law to introduce fixed-term Parliaments, she called an election to cement her power, lost it…and then carried on to use a Parliamentary recess to bomb Syria based on fake chemical weapon accusations and further spraining of the UK constitution. Revealed as having granted pardons to subletting cheats in Grenfell Tower as if she might be a Bourbon Queen, May also forced a colleague to fall on her sword over the Windrush scandal – a blatant (albeit overblown) example of an over-zealous Home Secretary (her) pandering to bigot votes on immigration.
Now the scheduled release of US investigatory papers looks likely to point the finger at Mrs May as an up-to-her-neck participant in an MI5/FBI plot to smear Trump with false accusations about Russian “interference” in the 2016 Presidential Election campaign.
But Hell hath no fury like a defeated Democrat. Nearly two years on from the election of Trump to the White House, whingeing US liberals continue to tell us Trump lost the “popular vote”. Well, they had 240 years to abandon the Electoral College that confirmed The Donald as POTUS, but never raised an eyebrow about its ability to elect Clinton and Obama for two terms each.
This is very much in the spirit of British Remaindeer who claim to have lost the in/out EU referendum because Leavers lied, nobody knew what Brexit meant, and they were outnumbered by evil/gullible/nasty old racists, which wasn’t fair. They too want more democracy – but this time only the nice votes will count, and the Remain option will be in Dayglo Red Bold so the uneducated get it on the correct thing to vote for.
A good Hungarian friend wrote to me last week using these words:
‘Rigid adherence to an ideology is incompatible with democracy’
It is a powerfully accurate observation with which Milan Kundera, George Orwell, Aleksander Solzhyenitsin, John F Kennedy, Willy Brandt, Charles De Gaulle, Theo Van Gogh, Aleksander Dubcek, Winston Churchill, Clem Attlee, Harry Truman, Benjamin Disraeli and the Duke of Wellington would have wholeheartedly agreed.
So when ideologues suggest four cheers for democracy, beware.