Monday, 13 March 2017

The Will of the People

Remember “taking back control” and “America First”? Meaningless yet seductive slogans which opponents failed to counter. Now, “the will of the people” has taken over, sucking in not only the very people whose will is to be obeyed but almost every opponent of Brexit, so much so that the official Opposition imposed a 3-line whip to support the government, in favour of what most of its own voters rejected.

Of course, in a democracy it would seem that the will of the people should be paramount. But should it, when those same people and their ancestors have won the right to delegate their decisions to elected representatives? Then there is the breath-taking idiocy of presuming that “Yes” or “No” to a simple question can represent the will of the people over the most complex political issue they will ever face.

Now, this 2016 Yes/No “will of the people” is to be exercised regardless of the outcome of two years or more of multi-faceted negotiations. If the Prime Minister in 2019 or 2020 says she has a satisfactory parachute for our flight into the unknown, adopting it will be called “the will of the people”. If she says that she does not and we must leave Europe via ejector-seat, this too will be “the will of the people”. Two utterly different solutions, both ascribed to the Leave vote. Whatever one person, the PM, says, will be treated as “the will of the people”.

Not only is this palpable nonsense but it is alarming in two further respects. First, there appears to be no significant opposition to it, leaving us as if in a one-party State. Second, it removes all vestiges of democratic legitimacy from the greatest change to our governance in decades. This stands to add UK to the growing list of countries being run as unopposed virtual dictatorships: Turkey; Zimbabwe; Russia etc. What are we doing to our children’s future; and all for a slogan? Who will dare to go against the so-called "will of the people"?
Tom Serpell

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