Monday, 19 February 2018

A cause for laughter

According to the Sunday Times yesterday, a new group of intellectuals has been established to back Brexit. The report quotes the group as saying that seeking to reverse the result "would outrage democracy, cause dangerous and lasting dissension, and make the United Kingdom an international laughing stock".  But all of this is open to challenge.

I agree that holding a referendum and then ignoring the result would be an outrage.  But equally, ignoring any subsequent change in public opinion would also be an outrage.  There is  nothing in any definition of democracy which I can come up with which requires any democratically taken decision to be absolute and eternal.  Overruling a decision is one thing; but it isn't at all the same thing as trying to persuade people to change their minds.  Preventing the second of those things is surely an equal, if not bigger, outrage.

On the second point, it isn't the holding of a referendum or the taking or implementing of a decision which causes the dissension and division.  That already existed, and has existed for many years.  The referendum may have exposed it, but it didn't cause it.  There's no magic wand which will make that division go away, and the expectation that those who 'lost' the referendum will now simply change their minds and agree that it was the right decision after all in an attempt to paper over the cracks is a wholly unrealistic one.

But it was the third point that I 'liked' the most.  In essence, it says that we can't change our minds because people will laugh at us if we do.  It's a bit late for that; they are already laughing.  The implication is that even if we realize that the decision was a mistake, we should carry on regardless to save face.  But which is the bigger laughing stock - the one who realizes his mistake and changes his mind, or the one who realizes his  mistake and carries on regardless in case people laugh?


Anonymous said...

Problem is, if we'd done that in wartime we'd have got nowhere.

Leave it to the politicians in Westminster, they'll see us through as they always have done so in the past. It might not be pretty but our democracy has been shown to work in the best interests of this country time and time again.

John Dixon said...

"...if we'd done that in wartime we'd have got nowhere" Done what exactly? It's not at all clear to what you are referring here.

...our democracy has been shown to work in the best interests of this country time and time again" Really?

But thank you, once again, for illustrating things so well. All we need to do is express the same complete loyalty to, and faith in, our 'leaders' as others did in the past, and all will be well.