London’s Anti-Democracy March

This weekend, half a million people descended on the capital to demand a ‘People’s Vote’. Ardent supporters of Britain’s EU membership are understandably upset by 2016’s vote. The current government’s apparent incompetence and division is hardly offering them comfort. Businessmen with contracts in Europe are fearing for their companies’ futures and others are concerned by the prospects our little island nation severing links with out closest allies.  

Nevertheless, the march raises a number of questions for me.

Demanding a ‘People’s Vote’ is just code for a second referendum. The people have already had a vote- that’s the problem. Do they want to keep on having votes until they receive the outcome they wanted? If a second referendum is called, and a majority still favour Leave, will they be calling for a third? 

One of the march’s primary supporters was Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s press secretary, and one of the most important men in government. Andrew Neil rightly pointed out the incongruity of him ignoring a million marchers in 2003 who objected to the Iraq war he supported, while now demanding the government heeds the wishes of half that number over Brexit. Democracy is great when we like its results, but terrible when it produces what our opponents want.

Several left-wing critics have commented on the marchers’ ‘poshness’. Whereas I’m certain this doesn’t apply to all of them, George Galloway remarked on many marchers’ smart chiffon outfits and perfumed bodies, while claiming to represent ‘the people’. Socialist vicar Giles Fraser said it was ‘Less a demo, more a Waitrose queue.’ Middle class people have as much right to demonstrate as anyone else, but White Van Man of Burnley was not well-represented.

I’m glad that our country is so free that people opposed to government policy can publicly take to the streets and share their views. What worries me about this march is its fundamental opposition to democracy. Following the July 1945 election, Winston Churchill and his government were put out of office. King George VI offered him the Order of the Garter, a prestigious honour which he declined, remarking:

“How can I accept the Order of the Garter, when the people of England have just given me the Order of the Boot?”

For all his privileged background and Victorian upbringing, methinks Churchill had a better understanding of democracy than this week’s marchers.

As journalist Sam White points out:

British politics have regressed. Look at the arguments being had- should we accept a democratic vote? Do women exist? Is free speech necessary? Everyone's time is being wasted.

I thank God the Kingdom of Heaven is not democratic, attempting to keep a majority happy.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay