What a real democratic party should look like
Some advice for the doublespeaking Remoaners behind ‘The Democrats’.
When George Orwell wrote that political language is ‘designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectful’, even he couldn’t have envisaged the astounding gall of those who seek to create The Democrats – a new political party proposed by James Chapman, ex-political editor at the Daily Mail and former chief of staff to Brexit secretary David Davis. Ladbrokes currently puts the new party at 200-to-1 to win the next General Election, which are better odds than UKIP or the Greens.
Chapman has clearly lost a few pages from his dictionary. His new movement represents a distilled example of doublespeak in action. For The Democrats are about as keen on democracy as the Conservative and Unionist Party is on trade unions. The people behind The Democrats have no interest in empowering the demos — rather, they are intent on thwarting it. Their primary goal has been made clear from the outset: to stop Brexit; which means to undermine the largest democratic mandate in British history.
Such distorted appropriation of the word ‘democracy’ is widespread today. The Liberal Democrats continually demonstrate their anti-democratic credentials by pitting themselves against the democratic will of the people expressed last June. In the US, the Democrat Party’s immediate response to Trump’s victory was to rule it invalid. Even Turkey’s President Erdogan had the cheek to justify his penchant for jailing journalists and academics by saying he was upholding ‘democratic values’.
But this latest ‘democratic’ movement takes gold when it comes to democratic doublespeak. While the Lib Dems try to shroud their efforts to scupper Brexit in the mechanics of a second referendum, The Democrats simply want to hit ‘Delete’. The Democrats would ‘reverse Brexit with no second referendum’, Chapman proudly declared. In doing so, he revealed his loathing of the demos. Founded on a distrust of the political capabilities of you and me, The Democrats stand in direct opposition to even the softest idea of democracy.
Chapman isn’t too concerned about his obvious doublespeak. Judging from his barrage of Trump-style tweets sent in the small hours, it’s pretty clear he’s relaxed about using dodgy definitions. But just in case he decides The Democrats ought to pay the slightest lip service to democracy, here are a few tips for creating a genuinely democratic party:
Anyone committed to democracy must now push for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. Having made a habit of meddling in elections and flaunting the powers of its unelected bureaucrats, the EU stands in direct opposition to the political power of the demos. And given that 17.4million Brits voted to Leave, The Democrats must respect the referendum result and rally against any attempt to scupper Brexit. Unlike Chapman, who believes leading Brexiteers should be put in jail, true democrats recognise that this exercise in democracy must be respected.
Hold more referendums
The Brexit vote was a mass exercise in political engagement. Harnessing the power of last year’s referendum, democrats should encourage more direct democracy in the political sphere. If we are to trust the rational capacities of our citizens, referendums should no longer be viewed with a grimace, and voters shouldn’t be viewed as an ignorant rabble. Voters should have a greater say in issues that affect their lives.
Support a free press
‘The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed’, said Hannah Arendt in 1974. Contrast this with one of James Chapman’s tweets: ‘Murdoch is an enemy of state.’ Unlike Chapman, a true democrat appreciates that it is only by having a free press that we show our trust in the demos. Bashing newspapers amounts to bashing the mental and moral capabilities of those who read them. For the demos to flourish and have an informed opinion, freedom of the press is paramount.
Promote free speech
Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy. Whether it be the right to vote or the right to protest, freedom of speech informs every other freedom in a democracy. Through upholding the political autonomy of citizens, it also promotes the inquisitive mindset that a democracy needs.
Whether it be paternalistic taxes on alcohol and cigarettes or anti-humanist environmentalism, today’s self-proclaimed ‘democrats’ seek to turn man into something to be reviled and protected. Democrats must celebrate mankind. It is only by upholding the value of humanity that the demos itself can be taken seriously.
Jack Schwartz is a spiked columnist.