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Democracy - help me out here!

(190 Posts)
DidoLaMents Thu 08-Aug-19 19:20:22

I have to accept, I am told, the result of the referendum, this is democracy.
To add to this I am now having to accept that 150,000 members of a political party decide who my prime minister should be. Mmmm....
Now, I have to accept that an unelected advisor to the PM can lay down the law in Downing Street and ignore our parliamentary process; can bully and override our elected politicians who represent all voters; those who voted leave and those who voted remain; and threaten to sack our civil servants if they disagree with him or whistle blow. Mmmm....
This is to push through the results of a referendum that was poorly structured and gave little background of the consequences of what we were voting for. In a parliamentary democracy, a referendum, is an advisory process, not a compulsory instruction. Our MPs are our elected ‘representatives’ not our ‘delegates’. They make decisions based on what they believe to be fair, just and prosperous for us all as a nation, that’s why we put them there. Mmmm ....
My question however; help me understand, is this really democracy for all?

GrannyGravy13 Thu 08-Aug-19 20:01:09

Welcome to GN Dido

MawB Thu 08-Aug-19 20:07:01

Oh good! Another Brexit thread. It must be at least a whole day since the last new one was started.

merlotgran Thu 08-Aug-19 20:13:28

Great username, Dido grin

MaizieD Thu 08-Aug-19 20:16:30

Well, we could widen it somewhat and look at what 'democratic' might mean.

Just to start it off, 'democracy' comes from the Greek. It was practised in some of the ancient Greek city states. Some other forms of government were autocracy and oligarchy.

2 points about Greek democracy

1) The city states had tiny populations compared with any modern country

2) Women and slaves were excluded from voting.

How 'democratic' was Greek democracy?

jura2 Thu 08-Aug-19 20:20:22

Maw, why not comment on her thread- or ignore.

jura2 Thu 08-Aug-19 20:34:54

What do you think of the 'democracy' as described in the OP?

Deedaa Thu 08-Aug-19 20:41:54

Apparently ignoring nearly half those who voted while taking the advice of an unelected "advisor" is Taking Back Control.Whatever it is it certainly isn't my idea of a parliamentary democracy.

MaizieD Thu 08-Aug-19 20:50:01

Another thing about ancient Greek democracy was that all the citizens were gathered together to hear speeches in favour or against whatever was being voted for. This meant that all the voters knew what was being said and there was a chance for statements on either side to be questioned and refuted.

Is it 'democratic' for people to be targeted with adverts that only they know they are receiving and which no-one else has any opportunity to question or refute?

Callistemon Thu 08-Aug-19 20:59:29

It's a case of déjà vu
Alistair Campbell and illegal wars anyone?

Depressingly familiar.

MaizieD Thu 08-Aug-19 21:28:44

Oh, we don't really want to talk about what democracy might actually 'be', then?

DidoLaMents Thu 08-Aug-19 21:36:38

It fits into the Forum : News and Politics, MawB, and is probably the most dramatic change to take place in our country, certainly in my lifetime, and the biggest jump into the unknown. Why shouldn’t I raise the question? I’m asking others their genuine, honest opinion! Thank you for yours if and when you wish to give one..

DidoLaMents Thu 08-Aug-19 21:38:23

Thanks for the welcome! GrannyGravy13

MaizieD Thu 08-Aug-19 21:49:59

My opinion is that before we go over the result of the referendum again we might have a stab at working out what 'democracy' means and what it actually involves.

Leavers and Remainers each have their own version. grin

DidoLaMents Thu 08-Aug-19 22:08:54

Thanks Deedaa. Good to have an opinion!

paddyann Thu 08-Aug-19 23:05:17

I always believed that democracy was a method where everyone had a chance of having their choice win/or be heard .There is no democracy in the UK ,there is England using bully boy tactics and the rest of us who have no chance in hell of ever getting our options through the H.OF C.85% of MP's are ENGLISH .so its an English parliament which barely tolerates any one who isn't.They show no one respect .

Just listen to the treatment of the other MP's the derision,the appalling screaming at ,in particular tha ELECTED SNP members who have been sworn at and told to "go back home where you belong" .Its not our parliament ,it is not democracy at work .

The Holyrood parliament works on a different system ,if it were a FPTP system we the SNP would have over 80% MSP's BUT it works fairly well with the proportional representation when they all play nice .Hopefully we've learned how not to do it fromour "masters" in WM .

DidoLaMents Thu 08-Aug-19 23:10:34

Ah MaizieD it would be grand seriously, to debate about Ancient Greece with you but I’m not asking about democracy as a definition centuries ago or even what the Greeks thought it was. I’m well aware of the roots of democracy and how for example women and slaves were treated then. Women are still denied their rights and we still have slaves in many places whose governments declare themselves democracies. What I want to know is do you think what is happening here in the U.K. is democratic; within the accepted norms of a modern democratic society. We live in a parliamentary democracy were my MP represents me and my neighbours equally whether I voted for her/him or not and whether I voted leave or remain. I have not stated how I voted but I am questioning what has happened and if the process has been highjacked by people who are not elected and represent no one but themselves.

growstuff Thu 08-Aug-19 23:35:59

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

A decent democracy should have built-in safeguards to protect minorities and ensure that the issue(s) being voted on are crystal clear.

There's a problem in some countries which are trying to modernise by introducing Western-style democracy, but where the population is generally not educated and/or doesn't understand the issues. Democracy can easily become an excuse for bullies to have their own way. It turns into the faction which can shout the loudest getting its own way.

I usually get shouted down when I try to explain why I don't believe in unconditional democracy.

growstuff Thu 08-Aug-19 23:39:14

In the context of the current situation, I think democracy has failed.

I've thought that a future essay title for students of politics could be something like "Explain how the events of 2016-2019 highlighted the flaws in the concept of democracy".

MaizieD Thu 08-Aug-19 23:42:14

What I want to know is do you think what is happening here in the U.K. is democratic; within the accepted norms of a modern democratic society.

And what I am saying is that you will get two opinions because Leavers and Remainers have different understandings of 'democracy'.

FWIW, I think that since the referendum very strong evidence has emerged that it was corrupted by fraud, lies and illegality. That the result is unsafe and so cannot be called democratic.

I also know that there is more to democracy than 'winning' a vote; that the views of 'minorities have to be taken into account and that it includes a right to oppose.

I have never thought our parliamentary was particularly democratic as our FPTP system effectively disenfranchises a very significant number of voters. I also think that it is wide open to corruption through party funding and the existence of powerful lobbies.

We have a very old system of parliamentary government by an elite which has had some tweaking from time to time to create the appearance of more equal access to a say in how the country is run, but while the constitution sounds fine in theory it depends on voluntary 'gentlemanlike' and 'honourable' behaviour. Inadequate in this day and age. As the past 3 years have demonstrated.

Democracy is dying fast, in my opinion.

growstuff Fri 09-Aug-19 00:00:55

It's also profoundly undemocratic and quite sinister that Johnson has appointed unelected Dominic Cummings as his advisor. It would appear that Cummings is pulling the strings and is not accountable to any electorate.

I expect everybody knows about Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell as spin doctors. The main stream media was always having a dig at them, but Cummings has taken this to a whole new level, but the media is mainly ignoring him.

Greta Fri 09-Aug-19 09:42:48

If we are talking about the referendum I can't see anything democratic about it; it was based on fear, lies and manipulation.

If we are talking about life in general I don't think we are a very democratic country. If we were we would no longer tolerate huge divisions in society. I know we are known to be a very tolerant nation but tolerance sometimes manifests itself in apathy and turning a blind eye.

growstuff Fri 09-Aug-19 10:19:00

Greta, Some people interpret "democracy" as "my side won a binary vote", so those who lost don't matter, which creates divisions. The divisions become part and parcel of that kind of democracy. Most Western democracies have grown into something more subtle than that. All systems are flawed (including democracies), but we also have protections for minorities. Hence LGBT rights, equal opportunities, anti-racism laws, etc.

I'm waiting for the book about the whole referendum/Brexit issue, but it will show that there really hasn't been anything democratic about it. I am so angry that catchphrases "will of the people", "undemocratic backstop" and "take back control" have been used so cynically by a handful of people to "use" democracy for their own gain.

I'm actually angrier about the way democracy and parliamentary systems have been sidestepped than I am about probably food shortages, etc. What has happened will have a lasting effect on our society for decades to come.

jura2 Fri 09-Aug-19 11:13:42

'Democracy' is a very strange concept, interpreted very differently in different parts of the world. If you study the different types of democracy, even if just in the EU, their Goverment and election systems- there are vast differences.

The UK is considered a strange oddity, for instance. Still a Monarchy, with a totally unelected Chamber, where one religion only is represented, a Parliamentary Democracy where we elect MPs who are then trusted to make decisions on our behalf - and a First Past the Post system that ensures that massive numbers of votes go straight into the bin and never counted (like OH's and mine- as we lived in a Constituency that did not represent our political 'views').

Most people in the EU always looked at the UK system as a very bizarre, archaïc and very divisive system- creating 'them' and 'us' rather than cooperation - and seesaw politics, jumping from one extreme to another.

And then of course, I was born and bred, and now returned for a few years- into the totally opposite system 'Direct Democracy'.

Direct Democracy is NOT and probably NEVER will be the political system of the UK - and at the end of the day - or in October - Parliamentary Democracy will prevail. I am 100% sure that HRH, if she has to step in- will want to ensure that Parliamentary Democracy wins the day.

growstuff Fri 09-Aug-19 11:26:44

I wouldn't want direct democracy because it supports populism. We'd have the biased media whipping up support for all sorts of ideas.