A report by the Hansard Society, the UK’s leading source of independent research and advice on Parliament and parliamentary affairs, should give everyone pause.
Interviews conducted with a representative sample of 1000 British citizens found 63% agreed that “Britain’s system of government is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful” and in response to the statement “Britain needs a strong ruler willing to break the rules”, 54% agreed and just 23% said no.
Only 25% of the public had any confidence in MPs’ handling of Brexit, (see my post ‘Let’s Discuss Nationalism’) Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they believed Britain was in decline, while 47% felt they had no influence at all over the national direction. The public feels strongly that the system of governing favours the rich and powerful and that political parties don’t care about the average person.
People are not confident that politicians act in the public interest.
When, in 2016, it was suggested a referendum concerning severance from the EU should be held, 77% of the population surveyed were in favour. The current figure in favour of referenda has slumped to 55%.
Although many have chosen to do so, it is unfair to blame the Brexit issue for ‘breaking Democracy’ when all it has really done is shine a spotlight upon flaws that were already there. Democracy, inasmuch as it is a recipe for governing which ‘carries out the will of the majority while having regard for the needs of the minority’ probably never existed at all. Our much-vaunted ‘world’s oldest democracy’ was a sham from the start – Members of Parliament only started receiving an income for their services in 1912. Prior to that, right back to 1721, the time of Sir Robert Walpole, only those of significant means could afford the honour of representing a constituency, being bought and paid for by the local landowners.
Twentieth and twenty-first century political history has no place here, although I am happy to trade blows with anyone who would vie with my observation that the Conservative and Unionist Party, or a close imitation of it, holds and has held the Golden Ticket in the UK for the best part of the last hundred years, at least. That is too long – at least, that is too long.
Does the freedom of information the internet provides spell the death of Democracy? The lies no longer convince – the truth is harder to hide. Understandably, there are many who will see the proposition “Britain needs a strong ruler willing to break the rules” supported by 54% of a representative sample as dangerous. They will hold up the spectre of intervention by right-wing extremists, Marxists, anarchists, and any other ‘ists’ you care to name. They will warn of the breakdown of law and order – little realising, perhaps, that it is their law and order, no longer the law of the people.
A strong ruler. Maybe it is time; maybe Democracy has failed to withstand the test of truth, and maybe even dictatorship is better? Does Churchill’s quote ‘Democracy seems a very bad system until you examine the alternatives’ hold good in 2019? Personally, I cannot see myself casting another vote until radical changes have been made. We are already stabbing each other in the streets; if we take no action now, when does the shooting start?