Friday, September 14, 2012

Well, what is democracy?

A blog by Dr Eamonn Butler on the Adam Smith Institute site raises some very pertinent questions. Is democracy really just mob rule by a majority, however acquired, against any minority it happens to dislike? I seem to recall the question coming up when the Labour government gleefully announced in effect that it had a majority and therefore could go after a minority it disliked, that is people who hunted.

There are other cases, as Dr Butler points out and these tend to be less likely to inspire indignation:
it is possible for quite small majorities to dominate the agenda. That is why we have such absurdly high tax on businesses and on people who earn a lot by creating jobs and prosperity. There are simply fewer of them than the majority, who enjoy the benefits of the taxation.
When it comes to taxation we do have only one chamber and no other control on their activity. The idea of being governed by petitions or referendums (let us not spend any time discussing the Swiss system, which is applicable to one country only, Switzerland) or, in other words, vested interests and very small majorities that are easily swayed by the news of the day is equally difficult. It is representative government we need to mend and a balance of powers we need to introduce.

It goes without saying that none of that can be done while we are inside the European Union and are governed very largely from Brussels through are so-called legislators.

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