Put Brexit deal to the people

Are we rose-spectacled fogies or justifiably worried about the nature and direction of our society?

Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 9:00 am

In the last few months alone, we’ve heard multiple stories which have shaken our trust in our country.

Prosecution failures to disclose evidence to defence lawyers; the Windrush cruelty scandal (and then the attempt to sanitise it by changing the name of its driving force, the ‘hostile environment’); attempts to suppress documents about UK involvement in the massacre of Sikhs in Amritsar in 1984; killing an all-party attempt to tackle up-skirting; decades of failure to discuss cannabis rationally, to the point where special powers had to be used in a one-off way to avert an individual’s medical crisis; government claims of a Brexit dividend to pay for the proposed new NHS funding but “there is no Brexit dividend” (Institute for Fiscal Studies director), and Tory and health select committee chairman Sarah Wollaston agreed, tweeting ‘In reality the tax rises and borrowing will need to be higher as a result’.

Instead of going on, perhaps readers will add their own examples.

Meanwhile, this week has produced one more but this time reaching directly to the heart of our political system and our democracy as a whole.

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Seventeen Tory MPs find they cannot trust the word of their own Prime Minister.

That is just typical of the squirming of both our big parties over the two years since the EU Referendum – a stream of slippery politics-speak as they put party position before national need.

But isn’t that what democracy and politics are about?

Not unless, like Hitler, Erdogan, Trump and Putin, you want to abuse ‘democracy’ to gain and then keep power.

Authoritarian, democratically elected leaders all. Do what I say and you’ll be all right. Might is right.

There is no one pure democracy. For over three centuries, this country has groped towards a democracy which tries to balance the views of majorities with the needs of minorities.

To live with such uncertainties takes practice, mistakes and trust.

That is perhaps the most difficult way of governing ourselves.

If trust is broken, we’ll head for a leader like those above.

Much of the Referendum argument indicated just such distrust of our politicians and our system of government.

Whatever Parliament decides on a Brexit deal, it will have to be put to the people or there will be more distrust.

Jean & Peter Watts