democracy is a funny old thing.
for most of the western world it is a simple thing. every so often the public gets a chance to elect representatives to govern and lead us. in the uk, for better or worse, we live in a first past the post majority system: get more votes than the other people and you are in. bish bosh bang. job done.
most importantly it works.
but a bit like freedom of speech or human rights there are those occasions when because people don't like the result they moan and complain but that isn't what was supposed to happen, this isn't the result we wanted can we change it?
for a time we could be smug about the whingey scots – the nationalists promised their independence vote would be a once in a generation vote. they lost. they waited a few days and then showed they were liars by demanding a second referendum.
but then we decided to call the european union referendum. david cameron's decision to fight off the encroaching power of ukip (which was only in the minds of nigel farage and the editors of a few newspapers) and the usual gang of eurosceptic nutters in the tory party called for the vote and the brexit debate was started.
sensible money said stay.
sensible isn't always sexy.
farage had begun to make noises that if the vote was close,say 51/52% stay 48/49% leave there should be a second referendum. essentially saying if we don't get the result we want we might want to do it again. (needless to say farage quietly dropped this 'too close' argument toot sweet.)
the in campaign tended to argue the economic good of staying in, relying partly on common sense and economic stability to win the day. ooops.
the outers played to the hearts and made many promises that it would quickly turn out that they knew they were never going to keep, the biggest of these being the £350 million a week to the nhs – which is quickly turning out to be an extra £2.49 and a packet of crisps if the nurses behave themselves.
the referendum was always couched, well to the best of my recollection, as in or out. stay or go. leave or remain. it was never what do you think? if you had a choice what you like to do? give us a clue as to what you think we should do? there was never a oh by the way your vote is just an indicator as to what we should do, or your vote gives us the terms of the debate we'll have in parliament and we'll let you know the outcome later.
it was always. yes/no. it was always which side got the most won the day.
that is how our democracy works.
simple, easy, understandable.
arguments were made and we the people had to make a choice with our collective crosses.
when the result came in as 52% leave and 48% stay, it was a bit of a disaster.
but that is what the people voted for.
all of a sudden a whole group of people become agitated and start claiming there were lies and that this was just an advisory vote blah blah. they wouldn't have been saying either if the vote had gone their way (and we can rest assured that the brexiters would have used pretty much the same arguments if they had lost in order to get a second vote).
one of the outcomes of exit was the labour party went into full slow motion meltdown which managed to combine the longest election ever with the most obvious result ever. the reason for the vote was that some of the labour mps were not happy with the leadership of jeremy corbyn. true he had not covered himself with glory and at a time when the tories were at their least impressive and still fighting over exit, corbyn seemed to be doing the impossible and making the tories guaranteed winners of the next general election, and possibly the one after as well.
problem was jeremy corbyn had revitalised labour's membership – making it the biggest party in the country, and all those new voters wanted jeremy to be leader. they were the corbynistas.
the simple solution to it all would have been for moderate labour supporters to put their hands in their pockets and pay to become members in order to vote – they didn't. they lost because the committed and engaged did, and they are the people who are going to attended local party meetings and council gatherings. they are the people who will use the tools and mechanisms of democracy to turn the labour party into something that will not get elected because the vast amount of labour voters are not interested in something that looks and smells a little like revolutionary socialism -if they did they could have voted for anyone of a number of such parties in the past, and just because now some of the members of those small parties can now pretend to be potential labour politicians it isn't going to happen.
ironically jeremy and friends are going to benefit from a very specific election while it seems ignoring the wishes of a much broader and probably more representative vote. the behind the scenes movers and shakers in labour, momentum group, are keen to deselect members of parliament who do not agree with the new vision of labour (red labour? nu old labour? swp labour?) and put people that do agree in their place – of course this means going against the wishes of the voters.
see that is the problem with democracy it involves too many people who do not see the world in quite the same way you do, it is why it is representative – we elect people to make decisions on out part, and generally we choose them based on the fact that they are most likely to agree with my point of view.
corby and co will not do the brave thing and call lots of by-elections to see if their candidate will triumph against the incumbents, while the sitting mp will not trigger a by-election in order to prove they have the mandate in the local area.
effectively this is labour out of power for the next two elections, even if they do well in local council elections, at the next general elections they may just be spectators.
just at the time an effective opposition is needed is just the moment we get one that is fractured by internal division and is potentially prepared to piss on the votes of the wider community in order to keep sweet the new membership. odd way to go about things.
that simple, effective thing called democracy hasn't had the best time of it in the uk in these last few months.