As the calls for a second referendum get louder and a petition with more than 3 million signatures keeps growing, many people, on both sides of the debate, have stated ‘what’s done is done, it was a democratic decision that must be respected, just move on.’
Yes, the people went to the polls and, on the morning of Friday, 24th June, the results were announced. More people had voted to leave than remain.
There is no argument about that. It’s just basic maths. 17m is more than 16m.
But imagine for a second, if you will, that remain had won.
Imagine they had done so by promising everyone who voted for them £50 in return. When the votes were tallied and the people put their hand out for their nice, crisp red note only to be told ‘yeah, sorry, that was a mistake, we can’t give that to you,’ would you still think it was fair that the vote stood?
Would you still think this was democracy at work?
Of course, buying votes is not ethical (nor legal). We all know that.
However, this is, in essence, what the leave campaign did.
They promised money for the NHS.
They implied that there would be more jobs for people with a reduction or end to immigration.
They did not offer the money directly to the electorate, but they might has well have.
No sooner had the result been announced, they began retracting their promises. They stuck their £50 notes back in their pocket, knowing that if they had not told all those lies and twisted truths they would have received a fraction of the votes.
Those who are calling for a second referendum are not ‘sore losers’ nor is this about ‘sour grapes’. This isn’t a football match.
As many leave voters have now realised, this referendum has very obvious and painful real world ramifications, many of which they were warned about before but were told not to listen to because it was just the remainers ‘scaremongering’. Now they realise that, for the most part, it was not the remainers who were lying to them.
Should a second referendum be held, with all of the people aware of all of the facts (facts, not opinions or lies dressed as facts, but actual facts) and they still vote to leave then there can be no argument.
That would be democracy at work.
But this? This is not democracy. It wore democracy’s suit, but take off the jacket and underneath you find kleptocracy lurking.
Kleptocracy is defined as ‘a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people.’ The leaders of the leave campaign took from the people the ability to make an informed decision based on facts in order to gain power.
This referendum was many things, but democracy at work it was not.
We have a mainstream press that does not inform. Worse than that, it actively helps to spread lies. That is propaganda. For democracy to work the press must act as a watchdog for the people, serve a role in keeping politicians in check and government honest. They are not meant to serve as a mouthpiece for the political elite.
A key part of a democracy, as well as a free and honest press, is the ability to protest at what you find unjust, yet protesters are being told to shut up and just accept it all.
What has never been an integral part of a true democracy is bare-faced lies to get your own way and then ignoring complaints when you’re found out. People have tolerated lies from politicians for so long they think that’s just a natural part of being a democracy.
Democracy is not a licence to say and behave however you like, and for far too long, too many of us have stood by and let it be just that. We all get a vote, so what else matters, right?
There’s more to being a democracy than that. So much more.
Unless the people demand it loudly, we don’t stand a chance of getting it and we end up with the government our passivity deserves.