Did the UK Independent actually say democracy isn't working?

By Catte

Yes. It did. or at least it published a WaPo piece (by “Emily Badger”), which says exactly that, albeit in slightly more MiniTrue wording.

“Brexit reminds us some things are too important to be decided by the people…”

Let’s just look at a screen cap to make sure we aren’t imagining things…
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 13.00.02
Yup, there it is. Right there. Voting, you see, is now “messy”….

Since British voters elected to leave the European Union, signs have quickly emerged of the flaws in holding a referendum on such a messy, massive, far-reaching decision….”

She then cites an example of this “messiness” – viz. Boris Johnson’s allegedly overturned “promise” of £350 million to the NHS. Which is an odd example really, since the only obvious conclusion to draw from it is not “voting is messy” but that Boris Johnson is a liar. Are we really supposed to be blaming the electorate for believing what he said (supposing they did, I’ve yet to see any data on that)?
For Emily’s next bullet point she predictably pushes the entirely ridiculous media-created narrative of “regrexit”, which tries to make plausible the ridiculous idea that large numbers of voters only checked the Leave box out of spite or peevishness or because they left their glasses at home or something, and are now mortified because of all the terrible things that have happened since, such as…well, the market dipping quite a bit,and then going back up a bit. That story and accompanying hashtag might have sounded like a good idea in the anti-Brexit focus group at 4am on June 24, but in the cold light of day it just looks what it is – desperate and sad. As does this…

The process looks like direct democracy in its purest form, and it was celebrated as such by many Leave campaigners after the vote. But David A. Bell, a Princeton historian writing in The New Republic four years ago as Greece was preparing for a referendum on its bailout, argues that the result is much more often anti-democratic.

Ah, this is the real meat of the message. Despite all outward appearance – she tells us – having a referendum is actually more “anti-democratic” than not having a referendum. I bet you didn’t know that, right? But it’s true. David A. Bell from Princeton is very clear about it.

He divides referendums into two categories: The first implicates fundamental questions of sovereignty (should Quebec become independent, or Scotland break away from Great Britain?). These kinds of referendums are appropriate, Bell argues: “They represent instances when sovereign power, always ultimately held by the people, but mediated by constitutional structures, temporarily reverts to the people directly, so that they can modify or replace these structures….Then there are referendums about questions that would otherwise be handled by the legislatures the people have already elected…”

You see? There are two kinds of referendums. Those about “questions of sovereignty”, such as should Scotland leave the UK, which are ok, and those about other issues that the legislature should decide for themselves…such as whether the UK should leave the EU…?
Hmm…. But never mind that sort of detail. The important thing is – and we really need to get on board with this –

…however much the designers of referendums claim to be acting in the name of democratic reform, their actions usually end up undercutting democratic institutions. This tendency isn’t merely incidental—it’s unavoidable given how referendums work…

Oh. Thank you Emily. It’s so obvious now. Referendums are undemocratic because they “undercut democratic institutions.” That is to say, they allow the people to overturn decisions made by their elected leaders. Which is wrong. Because once you elect a leader you have to do whatever they tell you.
Forgive me if I don’t bother dissecting the rest of Ms Badger’s discourse, but it’s really not worth it. We can already see where this, and other such pieces, is going, can’t we. You can be pretty sure in the post-Brexit summer soirées in Islington and Hampstead the media classes are already telling each other over their chilled wine that “populism” is not the same as democracy, and that uninformed people can’t be trusted to make the right decisions, which sort of means – when you think about it the right way and have swilled back enough booze – that real democracy is only undermined at the ballot box.
These scions of the fascist pseudo-left won’t – ever – admit to themselves this is garbage, because any journalists and columnists with that much honesty and self-awareness have long since been weeded out and consigned to the alternate media or lone blogging. Those stalwarts left on Fleet Street are mostly, if not all, capable of believing anything they want to believe – and of getting behind any agenda they’re paid to endorse.
So, watch out while “progressive” columnists start labelling voting “unfair”, or “dangerous”, or even “undemocratic”. The first thing to go will be referendums – obviously, because plebiscites are the most direct and raw form of democracy possible. Once you remove those you only need to make sure – as they mostly already do – that all the candidates offered at elections are basically the same product in a different box, and you’re good. Real democracy is dead. Democracy the hashtag has taken its place.
Which is of course why as a corollary Jeremy Corbyn absolutely has to be removed before the next general election. Because he just might stand on a platform offering real alternatives for the growing majority who want off the mad NATO/EU/IMF death train before it hurtles over the approaching cliff.
Actually there is one more part of this execrable little Indy/WaPo piece worth mentioning. It even cites the totally discredited – not to say hilarious – “2nd referendum petition” without criticism or caveat:
This is the new normal of journalistic accuracy. Citing a petition that is known to have no controls over multiple posting or voter fraud, that has upwards of 50,000 combined signatories from North Korea, the Antractic and the Vatican City, as if it were something credible.
So, there we have it. Democracy is undemocratic, and factual accuracy is just boring.
It’s pathetic, Indy. You really – really – ought to feel ashamed to the very depths of your soul that this rubbish is anywhere on your pages. The fact you don’t feel shame is not something to be smug about. It tells you how absolutely you have left your ethics behind.


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Categories: Brexit, latest, Media Criticism