Disappointing Democracy

I’m disappointed. Very disappointed. I’m not inconsolable or anything quite as hyperbolic as that. I’ll be a’right soon enough and carry on about my week. Just that little bit more cynical than before. For me, for now, life will go on pretty normally. Sadly for one Member of Parliament, her family, colleagues, and friends that isn’t the case. It is sad. I feel sad when I think of the personal tragedy.

Is it a terrible thing that a person was killed by another. It is.

Is it any more terrible because the killer’s views are alleged to oppose those of the victim. I’d say no it is not. A murder is the kind of terrible that is superlative. There is in a murder the most fundamental differing of opinions. The victim believes they should live. The murderer disagrees.

No matter how abhorrent one finds another’s views are they are petty in this context. The consequences of all those petty disagreements distant and tenuous in contrast to the big one. If we can’t agree on being allowed to live we’re in very deep trouble. It is after all a very universal view. Very few people on this earth believes another should have the power to end their life. Though I note many are far more blase about holding the power to end another’s life. But we, as enlightened peoples, have tended to put ourselves on the receiving end of the bad and the generous end of the good. This is a good heuristic for anyone unsure as to whether they are being a bit of a twat, by the way. “Do unto others as ye would have done to you.” – if you must get all biblical about it.

I think we can agree that all other differences of opinion, ideology if you will, are trivial and petty compared to the big one on getting to continue living. After all it’s when we fear the petty difference will lead eventually to the taking of life that we get most passionate. Life is what matters most to us.

In reconciling our need to avoid that fundamental differing opinion on living while being petty and argumentative we, mankind, came up with democracy. It is simply a mechanism to remove the power to act on opinions that differ greatly from the populace from those in power. Play the ball not the man.

“Ok. That’s quite enough of that sort of thing. Thank you. Do come again when you have something better for us. Bye Bye.”

Imagine Captain Mainwaring speaking those words and you’ll soon grasp this idea of democracy. The giving of power is secondary to what democracy is for – bloodless ejection from power. On that point I urge everyone to be very suspicious of the kind of people who love a good riot, think terrorists should be honoured. Yet shout loudly about attacks on democracy at a time like this. You won’t have to look too hard to see how warmly many received news of the demolition of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, for instance.

Naturally if all these people are recent converts to the cause of democracy. I welcome them… With suspicion and cynicism. That’s the “do come again when you have something better for us” openness we all must have.

My cynicism is however fuelled by those who abandon a tenet of our democracy in their rush to judgement over this MP’s killing. The law, jurisprudence, is there to prevent rumour and the mob from judging a person. Yet we have many upholders of democracy rashly tarring a killer. Or rather rashly tarring a whole lot of entirely innocent people with the blood on a killer’s hands. They are easily found. Simply follow the trail of hastily deleted tweets when called out by the more honourable. You will see most of them sat on the front benches when parliament is recalled on Monday. Moralising to their heart’s contentment the whole time.

Many of them, and the digital mobs who take their lead from the rest, savaged all mention of how police announcements around the murder had dramatically moved sterling’s value against the dollar. When an individual crime can move global markets like that it is news. Yet within minutes of that savaging of anyone daft enough to point to an interesting fact. The same mobs had concluded the killing was a direct result of the Brexit campaign. It was attributed to the hate that they, exclusively they, adjudged mention of other facts and consequences of remaining within the EU had engendered in the British population.

Throughout the afternoon a steady stream of very anger laden articles, posts, tweets oozed out over the internet. The alleged attacker, they’d have us believe, was embittered by Nigel Farage’s rhetoric. He’d been the subject of the morning’s tirades too. Thanks to unveiling a poster that supposedly channelled a certain Paul Joseph Goebbels of Rheydt, near Dusseldorf.  Yet at the same time we are told he was radicalised decades ago by far right groups. Though today I note there is is at least some selective mention of his mental illness. There’s also a little background reporting that shows the characterisation is inconsistent with the man known to many in the area.

The overall suggestion is that this was an act of hatred by a far right sympathiser. A racist with fascist fascinations. The Brexit campaign has been quite egregiously tarred little Englanders, xenophobes, and racists by the remainers from the outset. The narrative is to imply the hate mongering brexiteers is what did it, g’uvner. At the moment a gun was fired at an MP yesterday. Over half the nation were lumped in with that disgusting characterisation. So the latest polls tell us anyway. Pinch of salt and all that.

The latest polling was of course an indictment of the remainers’ campaign. How out of touch their opinions were and how offended the public are by the insinuations of their intolerance. Democracy was speaking and those at the receiving end did not like what it was saying. We have a democracy, of course. So the worst they should have feared is a “Thank you. Do come again when you have something better for us. Bye Bye”. Of course for many in the political class. Suggesting they go and get another, even original, idea causes an existential crisis.

This entire nation has waited a generation to exercise democracy on the EU membership question. Even remainers and most EU devotees admits the EU’s not really doing a great job. Most will candidly admit it isn’t particularly democratic either. June 23rd is our opportunity to say “That’s quite enough of that. Thank You.” – Or not. Such is democracy. It is also evident that we won’t get another opportunity to remove ourselves from the EU’s power for a generation or more. We may never get the opportunity again if you are as cynical as you should be. So it is the decision to suspend the referendum campaign that leaves me disappointed about this democracy.

There has been a single crime. A single murder. A single death. Yet an entire nation’s democratic process has been placed on pause at a very critical point. You can make up your own mind, please do, about which side benefits. Osborne’s dead cat didn’t have the desired effect – the general opinion on its reception by the  public was:-

“Really, George. Mate, even for you that was a bit desperate… Now that’s quite enough of that. Thank you. Do come again when you have something better for us. Bye Bye.”

And Bye Bye it would be too if on the 24th June Britain does indeed say “That’s quite enough of that. Thank You.” I will leave it to the depth of your cynicism about the political class to decide which side benefits from this hiatus in the EU campaign. Though only the most delusional or naive amongst you wouldn’t believe there weren’t several “Well, it wouldn’t hurt [us]” knowing glances amongst the remain campaign.

Just as with snafu of the voter registration website going down last week. This pause in proceedings introduces a doubt that democracy is truly being served. It introduces a terrible but into any future account of what happened during a few balmy weeks in June 2016. That is a part of my disappointment. I’ll wager many read the headline and thought it just a premature post crying foul about the referendum result a week early. Come to think of it if you are going to cry foul about any democratic result; A week before it comes in is a good time to do it.

What disappoints me is the lack of backbone. Democracy sometimes takes a strong stomach to exercise. We have to set aside all sorts of things that matter greatly to us alone and do our, trivial, little bit. I find it troubling that the political class have put themselves and their ‘feels’ ahead of a nation on a question that effects an entire continent. Remember, it’s the political class whom accept the consequences of democracy when they sign up for the task. Democracy belongs to you and me, us ordinary folk. I’m further unnerved by another sentimental affectation of the political class as some say they will not contest the Batley and Spen constituency by-election. That is a real insult to democracy. The killer circumvented democracy at gunpoint. (At least that is the prevailing narrative, it may well be overturned) Here the political class are abusing democracy for their own ends. However heartfelt their sorrow or deep their respect for the victim. It is all in service of their opinions and prevents the public from exercising democracy.

As I wrote, sometimes it stakes a strong stomach to do this democracy thing properly. Make no mistake, it is at times like this that we show our devotion to democracy. I would suggest democracy and showing respect are best served by some spirited democracy-ing in the by-election. Let the voters have their voice. It’s not for the politicians to hand a seat in parliament to anyone. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the outcome was a near unanimous result for a Labour candidate. The difference would be it was the public’s voice that was heard in support of the political class’ sentiments. Do they think so little of us that we can’t be trusted to do the right thing?

This pause will have a significant effect on the referendum. Many on one side of the campaign are still making an argument. They are dressing it up in grief and a call for tolerance. But they are attacking the leave case all the while. I won’t be silenced. I can write this free from any need to do the dance.  The tango even the most aggrieved of the Brexiteers has to do right now. Biting their tongues to maintain engagement with their audience. I do not. I will call out the scoundrel behaviour for what it is. I think even the most devout of their supporters would agree many have form on this faux indignation and offence.  On the moral high ground you are conspicuous, you know.

If you want to best serve democracy right now. You need to be vigilant that your mind isn’t changed by what is now a one sided argument. When you see a referendum point being scored – cry foul! It’s like scoring a goal while the teams are meant to be eating oranges on the touchline. You wouldn’t stand for it in pub league soccer. So you damned well better not when it comes democracy and a question as serious as Britain’s EU membership. You are on safer ground doing this when it’s ‘your team’ doing the nefarious scoring.

If you want to continue doing the right thing. Don’t stop there. Don’t feel any differently about the victim’s death because of who she worked for, her career to date, her public service. She was a daughter, a mother, a wife and a friend. That is it. Those things are all that truly matter. You simply can not elevate someone beyond those things with any of modern life’s petty distractions. To do so elevates grief for a stranger beyond grief for one near. That is pretty creepy. They call it Dianafication – be aware of it and try not to succumb, life’s better if you don’t.

Neither should you judge the alleged killer. You should not ascribe to him any motive or proclivity. All that is for a court to conclude and they will do a far better job of it than any of us can. Especially while still raw from the event.  That is part of our pact as members of this wonderful society, of which jurisprudence and democracy are its bedrock.

This week one man circumvented democracy with a gun. Another man abused it with a statement spoken into a microphone. Today, democracy disappointed.

I have not used any names of those involved because I just do not want that kind of SEO juice. Save your cynicism for those that do.