Friday, 25 January 2013

What's wrong with referenda?

The strongest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.

-Sir Winston Churchill

The quote above is one of the most common reasons given for why we cannot do a more direct democracy in this country. Apparently, the masses are too stupid to understand the subtleties of issues, which is why our specialist, managerialist political classes are given free reign to promise us X gratis and then deliver Y at a phenomenally generous cost Z.

But to me, it's pretty telling that people use this quote at all. Basically, it's saying, "I think other people are too stupid and can't be trusted with difficult decisions. I'm happy to let the political classes do the right thing, because they're so much smarter and more informed than the rest of us."

Well, that's bollocks, isn't it?

I'm sure there are some very bright people in politics, but most of them seem to be no smarter than the average table and most of those that appear adroit are actually simply possessed of a low, animal cunning.

And in all of them, the sociopathy and amorality necessary to play the games of party politics to get into power in the first place render any potential intelligence benefit moot.

So, given that there isn't any particular proof that politicians and civil servants are any smarter or better informed than us, why should we not be given the same level of influence over major decisions that politicians have? Or indeed ANY decision?

(Note that I still believe that democracy is a load of shit, but what we have now isn't even a democracy, it's an oligarchy that has the fig leaf of voting in front of it.)


Jill said...

I must say, one wouldn't be quite so angry about quite so many things if one could see a trace of competence anywhere.

Could I just [with pettiness]] say: it's FREE REIN. Just as the opposite is REIN IN. It's a horseriding idiom. Mind your eggcorns, dear.

Aled Lumley said...

You make the enormous assumption that the MPs actually understand what they vote on.

Party whipe makes the decisions, MPs turn up to vote as told. Only rare do they do otherwise.

At that point, a small den of senior politicians make pretty much all decisions.

Anonymous said...

I hear lots of stupid opinions from all sides of any argument. That some people are too stupid to be given a vote on any matter is to deny the whole idea of democracy. I assume that when 80% of people express any particular opinion they are probably right. So referenda are a very good idea, but voting must be compulsory and there should be a minimum threshold so that things don't happen accidentally due to idiots not understanding the question.

Cingoldby said...

Churchill also argued that democracy was the best political system (or at least the least worse).

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Well, that's bollocks, isn't it? XX

Not really. Not when you hear people say they will "vote XYZ" in the National elections, because XYZ councilor "fixed their pavement."

Gareth Milner said...

I must admit that I do kind of agree with churchill to an extent. Especially when I realise that the opinion of many folk these days is based purely on the one line of bollocks they found in their copy of the Daily Mail.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Jill - apologies ... autocorrect on the Mac is just as bad as the iPhone

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Aled - I make no such assumption