A Taste of Direct Democracy – or Not

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the badge in the sidebar linking to an e-petition on the smoking ban. E-petitions seem to be the flavour of the month at the moment. The more cynical among us are skeptical about such things. The idea that they will be debated in parliament if they reach a minimum level of support is indeed tempting, but we tend to wonder if such a thing will ever happen.

Well, I never

An e-petition calling for benefits to be removed from people convicted of rioting will not be discussed by MPs for at least a month.

As no MPs were prepared to support it, nothing will happen for a month. If no one supports it then?

A petition calling for the release of cabinet papers relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster – in which 96 Liverpool FC fans died – also gathered the required backing.

The Backbench Business Committee discussed subjects for Commons debate on the next available date – 15 September – at its meeting. But no MP spoke in favour of debating the petitioners’ demands, meaning they cannot be included.

So, in essence, the whole exercise is a sop to the proles. A patina of concern for what we think. They don’t care. They never have. They never will.

The idea of a full on direct democracy does scare me. Minorities would be trampled underfoot by the demands of the mob –  because, frankly, that is what the tyranny of the majority will mean.

Unfortunately, a representative democracy such as ours means that we have rule by an unrepresentative minority who will ignore the will of the majority even when it is thrust in their faces. That balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority that representative democracy is supposed to protect just ain’t happening and never will while we have an absurd party system combined with an equally absurd voting system that leads to huge majorities on the basis of a minority of the vote –  not to mention the disillusioned and disenfranchised who decide to withhold their vote.

So, sure, sign the e-petitions if you so desire, but don’t expect anything to happen as a consequence.

9 comments for “A Taste of Direct Democracy – or Not

  1. September 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    The assumption that the majority tyrannize minorities is the pap spread by leftist ideologues. It was not the case in pre-PC days – in fact, people just got on with their lives and their families. Not all that many people even thought about minorities. There is a difference between thinking you’re oppressed and actually being oppressed.

    I was in an ethnic minority in Russia and never expected to influence the day to day public life of the nation. As I learnt the language and put a few ideas about, then some listened but most never even knew. I wasn’t oppressed, as long as I was pro-Russian and did what I could to assimilate while I was there.

    A nation secure in itself, when the sovereignty, the national identity and all the functions of society are working as they should – people are employed productively and not wondering about their next meal – these people are going to be happy and are not going to be worrying about oppressing minorities.

    What we have now is the opposite of that and as you say, LR, “Unfortunately, a representative democracy such as ours means that we have rule by an unrepresentative minority who will ignore the will of the majority even when it is thrust in their faces.”

    • September 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      You have a curiously optimistic view of direct democracy. Yet the reality is that it is little more than two wolves and a sheep discussing supper.

      In the early days post 9/11 the majority would willingly have forced ID cards on us all in the name of security. This isn’t about an ethnic minority settling in and mixing with the majority host – I’ve done this in France and been accepted. And it is nothing to do with political correctness. Indeed, the majority would willingly sleepwalk into the database state and sacrifice the civil liberties of those who gainsay it – after all, nothing to hide, nothing to fear, eh?

      Any form of democracy must have checks in place that ensure the minority is not disenfranchised by what is ultimately mob rule.

      • WitteringWitney
        September 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

        So, you are not a fan of direct democracy? Patience, dear friend, an alternative to your idea of direct democracy is coming. Tad more delay than I envisaged as there is one hell of a lot of work involved…….

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:51 am

      ” There is a difference between thinking you’re oppressed and actually being oppressed.”

      Completely agree! There’s enough laws in existence that such would be unlawful, and while we are still in the EU, any new laws would be checked by that as well.

    • September 9, 2011 at 6:33 am

      You don’t need armed troops herding you into ghettos for there to be oppression and you don’t need to be in an ethnic minority. Having your property rights crapped on because the majority wills it – a daily occurrence in Britain and other democracies – is oppressive, and that most people are conditioned to accept it makes it no less true. And even then sending armed men against you is always an option.

      If you don’t believe me try this exercise: get a shotgun licence and a shotgun; refuse to pay your taxes; ignore the eventual fines and summons except to say that you will resist arrest with all means at your disposal. If the unarmed variety don’t grab you off the street and you continue not to play ball eventually they will send in men with guns to deal with you. And I’m not even sure that’s more oppressive than having millions of people conditioned to be happy to allow their own liberties to be trampled on and to nod approval as the police come to arrest you for trying to hang on to yours.

      Tyranny of the majority (or possibly plurality or even very sizeable minority) is unavoidable in a democracy because majority rule is how it works – get the demos out of it and it’s not democracy anymore – and anyone trying to stand up for their individual liberties is automatically in a minority no matter what their creed or colour.

  2. September 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    They do like to give us the illusion of people power. They are probably quite surprised that 100,000 people actually bothered to vote on these issues.

    I bet if they get petitions for things they like, such as internet censorship, and I think you mentioned ID cards, they would get backing for a debate.

    On another note, have you seen some of the shite that people are creating petitions about? Some of them must make TPTB think they are presiding over a nation of dribbling idiots.

    Ban all flights.
    Ban all flights except for government approved emergency flights.

    criminalise smoking and alcohol althogether
    Smoking and alcohol causes too much harm to any adult that participates in such activity. People die from cancer, heart and liver disease as a result of these actvities. Also if alcohol was criminalised, then we would see the end of drink driving (and people being killed as a result), a lot of anti-social behaviour in public, and people being a danger to themselves.

    Ban Bonfires
    Ban bonfires in the UK. They are anti-social, often toxic, dangerous, they damage the environment and are the cause of many neighbour disputes

    😯

    • September 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      And there are plenty of cretins who would trample over our civil liberties because they don’t like them or because they see a threat.

      Indeed, a better example of the tyranny of the majority as expressed in tobacco control would be difficult to find.

      Some of them must make TPTB think they are presiding over a nation of dribbling idiots.

      That’s because an awful lot of them are… 😐

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:52 am

      “I bet if they get petitions for things they like, such as internet censorship, and I think you mentioned ID cards, they would get backing for a debate.”

      Oh, indeed!

    • September 9, 2011 at 6:35 am

      /headdesk
      /headdesk
      /headdesk

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