In defence of democracy

In a civilised, democratic society, people’s votes must have real meaning.

Andrew Doyle

Andrew Doyle

Topics Brexit Politics UK

Democracy is an imperfect system for an imperfect society. I tend to agree with EM Forster’s view that ‘it is less hateful than other contemporary forms of government, and to that extent it deserves our support’. The alternative, after all, must be a kind of tyranny, and while a benevolent dictatorship is theoretically possible, history teaches us that to advance such a solution is rarely a risk worth taking.

With its archaic ‘first past the post’ method of selecting MPs, our democracy is as flawed as any other in the Western world. In the 2015 General Election, for instance, UKIP secured 3.9million votes but won only one seat in the Commons. By contrast, the 1.5million votes for the SNP resulted in 56 seats. Under proportional representation, UKIP would have ended up with 83 MPs. If, like me, you are not a UKIP supporter, the temptation is to justify such an undemocratic system on the grounds that it ensured the failure of our opponents. It’s a temptation that many are unable to resist.

When it comes to democracy it is essential that we strive for consistent principles, even when we do not take pleasure in the outcome. Roger Scruton calls this a ‘pre-political loyalty’ by which we resolve the common problem of living under a government for which most of the electorate didn’t vote. We respect our fellow citizens even when they do not vote our way, because ‘the government is not “mine” or “yours” but “ours”’. The electorate is bound together, in other words, by the first-person plural. Hence the famous preamble to the US constitution: ‘We the people…’

A common slogan to be seen on placards at anti-Trump protests is ‘Not My President’, or ‘Not My PM’ in the case of those closer to home. And while I am no fan of either Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, I find that the sentiment grows more sinister the more one considers its implications. It means that we no longer accept the democratic contract and, more worryingly, that we yearn for something else. As I have already pointed out, the alternative is there for all to see in the annals of history.

Recent events in parliament have made it more apparent than ever that something needs to be done to restore some semblance of democracy to our nation. A few months after the EU referendum I was having a conversation with a Labour backbencher and former member of Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet who, although a fierce opponent of Brexit, considered the idea that parliament might overturn the result to be an impossibility. As far as she was concerned, no MP would seriously countenance such a grossly undemocratic course of action. But in the intervening three years there has been a general change of outlook, one fostered by the unending repetition of lies which has enabled MPs to disregard the referendum result with a clear conscience.

It is known as the ‘illusory truth effect’. We’ve been assured that two plus two equals five for so long now that the rules of arithmetic no longer seem to apply. We are told that those who voted for Brexit had no idea what they were voting for, even though there were months of debate on the subject and the population had never been more politically energised. We are told that the electorate didn’t understand that leaving the EU would involve leaving the Single Market, even though the ramifications of leaving the Single Market were a continual feature of the numerous televised debates. We are told that the referendum was advisory, even though no leading campaigner on either side of the argument ever remotely suggested such a thing before the result. We are told that the Leave vote was based on widespread xenophobia, even though studies confirm that the UK is one of the least xenophobic countries in the world. We are told that Brexit supporters are slaves to nostalgia who yearn for a colonial past, even though nobody seems to have actually met any of these supposedly ubiquitous colonialists. And now, of course, we are told on a daily basis that thwarting this seismic democratic mandate would somehow be in the best interests of democracy, and that the attempt to enact the result of a national referendum is a ‘coup’. It’s the kind of doublethink that would put Trump to shame.

Of course none of the above arguments stands up to any kind of serious scrutiny, and yet many intelligent commentators feel no shame in repeating them. This tells us a great deal about human nature, not least that we are prone to convincing ourselves of palpable untruths if it might save us from having to face unpleasant realities. We may guard against this as best we can, but anyone who claims to be immune is simply demonstrating their susceptibility in the very act of denial.

It is the essential corruptibility of humankind that makes the separation of powers so key to any functioning democracy. Ours is an unwritten constitution, which means that we rely on the sound judgement of our representatives, and trust them to resist the temptation to game the system. But in the past two months we have seen MPs on both sides of the House doing just that. Boris Johnson has prorogued parliament in an effort to constrain the powers of the legislature. Opposition MPs have abused Standing Order No 24, a procedure by which emergency debates can be held, in order to make leaving the EU without a deal illegal. The speaker, John Bercow, who has long given up on the pretence of impartiality, has allowed them to do so in spite of accepted protocol. This is all technically permissible, but it is nonetheless the kind of constitutional sleight of hand that fatally undermines faith in parliament.

Similarly, there is no requirement for MPs who defect from one party to another to trigger a by-election, even though there is no doubt a moral responsibility to do so. Former Labour MP Angela Smith has now joined the Liberal Democrats via Change UK, in spite of the fact that in her constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge the Lib Dems won a mere 4.1 per cent of the vote. In Phillip Lee’s Bracknell constituency, the Lib Dems won just 7.5 per cent, so his defection from the Tories (whose share was 58.8 per cent) is no trivial matter. ‘We don’t need by-elections’, Lee said in a recent interview. ‘We don’t actually need General Elections at the moment.’ It’s a common sentiment from a parliament that is now clearly afraid of the judgement of the public.

The feeling is mutual; recent polling reveals that only one in five British voters say they ‘tend to trust’ the House of Commons. As Fraser Nelson points out in the Telegraph, claims that Boris Johnson is ‘hard right’ or ‘extreme’ for attempting to implement the referendum result – particularly when his policies are so clearly moving the Tories to the centre ground – simply will not pass muster with an electorate that voted in good faith to leave the EU. Nor will claims that there is ‘no mandate for a No Deal Brexit’ ever be persuasive. The referendum was a binary decision based on leaving or staying. Any subsequent referendum on the deal would only be legitimate were it to offer leaving the EU on WTO terms or a deal that had been agreed by parliament. To offer the option to remain in the EU all over again would be to nullify the referendum that has already been held. We can only claim to be living in a democracy if our votes have meaning, and the majority of the population understands this even if our parliamentarians do not. Many of those who currently occupy the seats of Westminster are screaming to themselves in a vacuum.

Brexit is no longer about Brexit. It is about restoring the electorate’s faith in representative democracy. For MPs to be finding loopholes and reinterpreting the constitution for partisan ends is a breach of trust that the public is clearly no longer willing to tolerate. The way in which Remain and Leave voters might find common ground is through the need to maintain our pre-political loyalty to each other, to remember that parliamentary democracy is based ‘not upon the sovereignty of Parliament, but upon the sovereignty of the People’ (in the words of Tony Benn).

A political class that has lost sight of its duty to the citizens it serves is a danger to Remainers and Leavers alike. If there is a silver lining to the collective failure of MPs to enact the outcome of the referendum, it is that it has exposed the rot at the heart of the legislature. Once we have left the EU, it is incumbent on all of us who care about democracy to turn our attention to how we might best reform this ailing parliamentary system.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. His book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice (written by his alter-ego Titania McGrath) is available on Amazon.

Header picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Mark Newstead

12th September 2019 at 2:39 am

Great article and well thought out.
I think the voters knew what they were voting for in the broad sense of political and economic freedom. The ability to make our own laws and create own trade deals and reducing our membership fee to the EU.
I don’t think you can negate the vote easily, without creating a huge problem. Economic hardship doesn’t really come into it now, its about self determination and the British peoples right to control their own destiny, not give control to the dreaded EU. Project fear is losing its potency.
Remain might win the battle, but they will definitely lose the war and the UK will be the poorer for it, both politically in losing voter confidence and economically in major demonstration and ill will. Also the rise of the right and the destruction of two party system.
The Brexit party will grow from strength to strength thru popular unrest and the feeling of disenfranchisement by the people.
Parliament need to understand this and find ways to mitigate such risks. But I fear they are obsessed about winning the battle and forgetting about the war.

A Game

11th September 2019 at 9:12 pm

“…must be a kind of tyranny, and while a benevolent dictatorship is theoretically possible, history teaches us that to advance such a solution is rarely a risk worth taking.
It is the essential corruptibility of humankind that makes the separation of powers so key to any functioning democracy. ”
This is the true guts of, well, everything.
Marx had such insight and creativity in theorising a system to empower the majority, to acknowledge that the worker, as a resource, was worth more than a pittance. The stark division between rich and poor, the success of the middle classes, made all of his ideas humane, just.
The thing that he overlooked, the massive gap in all of it, was human nature.
The first person has all the goodness, they are the benevolent dictator. But human nature rears its head, and there’s someone else, always, who wants the top job. And then the alliances and power blocs – the cronyism – begins.
No country having the ability to guarantee a benevolent dictator means you just can’t ever have a system that supports a dictator. (Monarchy follows the same lines, obviously. The kind monarch dies, replaced by their reprobate offspring.)
And as you describe so well, its then the bump and grind of always refining democracy.

I hope a lot of socialists are like me. That the ideal of a system relying on the goodness of those who preside over it has been proven a failure. The economic principles of socialism can live on, be implemented, but it always must be within a system of checks and balances – democracy. Get it right, find an equitable approach that benefits the entirety of society, then you never have to lose an election. Start to drift, start to lean to an extreme (which is usually human nature rearing its head again) – you lose an election. And that then leads to the loser having to be willing to concede.

Obviously the youth of today need a little less climate change fright and a little more history. (Which accidentally brings up a great example of why the young are having this flirtation with a system of autocracy. They are frustrated that the masses aren’t listening to Greta, so the masses have to be nullified. Centralised power would halt global warming in its tracks. Problem solved. Righto. (I think they think they get to keep their phones in this vision they have, or THEY do, just no one else does.)
Everyone else, alas, but them, then knows the great void that follows on after that. And they have to know these dangers run across all cultures, all ethnicities.)
Really nice article. I like its gentle tone of healing compromise.

Zammo McTrotsky

11th September 2019 at 5:26 pm

The only way Spiked can get away with this kind of bullshit is by relying on the many uses of the word “democracy” to cover their tracks. In nearly every Spiked article “democracy” is used to mean “popular” sentiment, as indexed by the special knowledge of the “working class” that is held only by members of the LM cult, and a few neo-reactionary allies. Otherwise, the entire meaning of the word “democracy” is exhausted by one overarching fetish. The outcome of an opportunistic referendum called for tactical reasons, and one whose leave majority has been a consistent minority soon after polling and ever since.
In nearly every other article, Spiked applauds, for example, elected representatives being jostled in the street by pro-Brexit thugs as “democracy in action.” Even after a pro-Brexit terrorist murdered an elected representative in the street.
Spiked have attacked every legitimate parliamentary attempt to stop no-deal, rerun the referendum (which Spiked and its ruling-class allies know they’ll lose) etc. as “anti-democratic” and “elitist” only in the sense that it is parliamentary.
If a demo takes place that Spiked disagrees with, say a remain one, well those are (arbitrarily, in a sense) “anti-democratic.”
Now, a Spiked idiot takes the position of being a (wish I had italics here,) the defenders of parliamentary democracy. Pointing up that they are not feral extremists, but moderate and sensible liberal democrats (lower case). This is just one way among many that Spiked has of talking out of both sides of its mouth at once. And it’s enthusiasm for liberal democracy (which is temporarily exempted from it’s part in “the establishment” for the purposes of this article), will last precisely as long as there is a neo-reactionary that Andrew Doyle finds simpatico at the head of the government.
When “the people” turn to fascists, authoritarians, ultra-conservatives and the like, Spiked is never in any doubt that it’s left-liberals to blame. When the people turn against the scum that has risen to the top, they dig out their pretend democrat to libel dissent as sedition.

Neil McCaughan

12th September 2019 at 6:22 pm

That seems a long way to say you’ll thcweam and thcweam until you’re sick, because you lost. Why not lie on the floor and beat your little arms and legs too?

Fred Shred

21st September 2019 at 2:58 pm

It’s always a sign that you have lost the debate when you resort to personal attacks / ridicule. Keep it civilised, mate, and engage on the issues.


11th September 2019 at 1:41 pm

A proper system of proportional representation in Parliament, an elected federal upper chamber, an elected head of state and highly autonomous local government are all more crucial than pushing neoliberal Brexit through by whatever means necessary.

Neil McCaughan

11th September 2019 at 5:50 pm

You don’t get to overrule democratic decisions, just because you don’t agree with them.

A Game

11th September 2019 at 7:25 pm

Sounds like buying for time. What’s being described – an American style of government, would take years to create. There is no point to all of those changes if you are parked under the autocracy of the EU.
Funny to hear someone call Brexit neo-liberal. Makes one think someone doesn’t know up from down.

James Knight

10th September 2019 at 6:19 pm

The 2016 referendum was the opportunity to fix the democratic deficit and the chasm between MPs and voters.

But instead of respecting the verdict MPs have undermined it and attacked the legitimacy of it. But they are the ones who have now lost legitimacy and the democratic deficit looks wider than ever. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in an act of monumental self harm.

Neil McCaughan

10th September 2019 at 4:45 pm

Admirable summary. It cannot be stressed enough that the 2016 decision was entirely fair and democratic, and that there was an unequivocal understanding that out meant out. Clear question, straightforward, clear-cut answer.

All the obfuscation from the losing side – apart from being a pack of lies for the most part – can’t alter that. If there is a shortage of camembert, and there is strong reason to doubt it, it remains a wholly acceptable cost for the vindication of democracy.

Mike Ellwood

10th September 2019 at 5:30 pm

Absolutely agree. The analysis in the article seems perfect to me, and your comment is a good one.

Andrew Clitheroe

11th September 2019 at 11:03 am

Hypothetically, if Leave had campaigned on a manifesto of one of the two concrete options that are on the table today (May’s deal including the backstop, or a WTO exit), do you think the result would have been the same?

Neil McCaughan

11th September 2019 at 5:55 pm

The fact that the political class has deliberately kicked the can down the road for three years alters nothing. May’s deed of capitulation isn’t leaving the EU. The country voted to leave the EU, and that is what it must do at the end of October. No one cares if there’s a plague of frogs. Parliament must fulfil its repeated promises to the electorate.

Andrew Clitheroe

12th September 2019 at 10:10 am

Okay, so you don’t think Leave would have won campaigning for May’s deal. What about on the basis of no-deal? There doesn’t seem to be overwhelming enthusiasm for it even according to current polls when everyone’s getting impatient.

Andrew Leonard

10th September 2019 at 2:32 pm

We are told that those who voted for Brexit had no idea what they were voting for […]

We are also told that those who voted Brexit knew it was all about racism – which they supposedly enthusiastically endorsed.

At least one of these claims must be wrong.
So Remoaners, which one would you like to retract?

Andrew Clitheroe

10th September 2019 at 2:35 pm

Kind of ironic that you’re demanding 16 million people retract a broad generalisation only some of them made.

Andrew Leonard

10th September 2019 at 4:04 pm

Evasive literalism

Andrew Clitheroe

10th September 2019 at 4:54 pm

Even more ironic to accuse someone of evasive literalism after manufacturing a contradiction by taking two extreme views *completely literally* 🙂

I have heard a few people say Brexit was all about racism. I have heard a few people say Leavers didn’t know what they were voting for. They weren’t the same people, and neither view is representative of Remain in general.

Did racism tilt the result in favour of leave? If it was a factor at all it seems unlikely it propped up Remain. Post-referendum, 33% of leavers who expressed a preference listed immigration and border control as their primary concern, and 81% described multiculturalism as a net negative. There was also a very strong regional statistical correlation between Leave sentiment and a lack of personal experience with immigrants. Taking ‘xenophobia’ in the value-neutral sense of ‘fear of the unknown’ it seems inarguable that it played a defining role. People were worried about losing their identity more than they were angry about having lost it.

As for leavers not knowing what they were voting for, I’ve touched upon that below. My interpretation is along the lines of “did not know what they were letting themselves in for,” which remains manifestly true to this day, since we still don’t know what’s going to happen. I am quite sure leavers knew what they were voting *in hopes of achieving*, but even Boris doesn’t believe leaving the EU will realise many or even any of those ambitions.

So is it really contradictory to say that xenophobia played a role, and that nobody really knew what it was they were going to be getting when they voted to leave?

Ven Oods

10th September 2019 at 5:36 pm

“I have heard a few people say Brexit was all about racism. I have heard a few people say Leavers didn’t know what they were voting for. They weren’t the same people, and neither view is representative of Remain in general.”

One can only assume that you’re not acquainted with The Guardian and its commenting readers.
(Many more than a few, but admittedly shy of 16 million.)

Britain First

10th September 2019 at 8:17 pm

What makes you think the Guardian matters at all? It’s daily circulation is only 140,000 – that’s about 0.3% of the British electorate. Spiked gets far more daily page views than that.

Andrew Clitheroe

10th September 2019 at 1:53 pm

Also, I’d like to address this bit:

“We are told that those who voted for Brexit had no idea what they were voting for, even though there were months of debate on the subject and the population had never been more politically energised.”

I think “no idea what they were voting for” is a poor choice of words, here uncharitably interpreted. “No idea what they were going to get” is more defensible, or better still “promised anything and everything in the hope that something would stick”.

Although it’s true nobody trumpeted the fact the referendum result would not be legally binding, Leave certainly exploited it. Far from presenting a coherent general-election-style manifesto, Leave employed a blunderbuss: depending on who you listened to you could plausibly have voted leave on the expectation of anything from a promise to write the letters ‘E’ and ‘U’ slightly smaller on a Thursday to a physical relocation of the entire island to the far side of the Atlantic.

Denying the remain campaign a target was no accident. Had Leave produced a WTO-exit manifesto, Remain could have shot it down in infancy. Had they pushed for a Norway-style arrangement, Remain would have chanted “No say, still pay” and walked it. By breezily brandishing a contradictory bouquet of full autonomy, ill-defined single market ‘access’ and day-1 global trade deals, Leave had something for everyone. It is… hard to believe, now that we’re staring down the barrel of £6bn set aside just to ensure a bit of fresh veg and medicine, that this broadly represents the aspirations of those who ticked the box to bring it about.

Neil McCaughan

10th September 2019 at 4:35 pm

Self serving drivel. The country voted to leave the EU, and there can be no justification for overturning the result. We are under no obligation to justify our decision to you.

And in that dreary litany of untruth and distortion you forgot the sandwiches – perhaps the most compelling argument remaintards have come up with.

Andrew Clitheroe

10th September 2019 at 5:26 pm

I don’t recall saying anything about overturning the result, or demanding anyone justify their decision. Nor did I call anyone names, for that matter; is that REALLY necessary just because we aren’t face-to-face?

I made a point that Leave lacked a coherent manifesto. Now, if you were voting purely to end FoM, ECJ jurisdiction, and the UK’s involvement in the EU project – if those were your sole or overriding concerns no matter what the consequences or (lack of?) attendant benefits – then I can sympathise with your present frustration. In that case, Leave really would mean Leave.

Andrew Clitheroe

10th September 2019 at 12:57 pm

Personally I prefer a less sinister take on the whole mess: we have (by a narrow margin) instructed our MPs to do something most of them believe will harm and diminish the country, perhaps permanently. *Even Boris Johnson* believes – and has stated publicly – that membership of the EU is not at the root of the problems that mobilised a majority to vote Leave – a majority that the passing of time, if nothing else, has already whittled down to nothing.

It must be hard, in that position, to silence the inner cry of “So why in God’s name are we doing this?” and commit what one is personally certain to be harm on the pretext of addressing problems that won’t thus be solved in the name of people who for the most part will be the least affected and for the shortest time. It must feel like a bad joke; a black Strangelove-esque comedy where all the institutions of which we are most proud – democracy, free press, free speech – conspire in one perfect storm to undo us.

Note that I’m not saying MP’s are necessarily RIGHT about any or all of this. It is not necessary for them to be right for them to be torn by their beliefs.

A Game

11th September 2019 at 11:27 am

The Remainer has arrived, phew, for the Brexit revisionism. Leave voters MUST have had just a tiny, little, teeny bit of racism in there, they must have in some way, some itty bitty way, have not had a clue what they were voting for, that they surely, through subterfuge and lies, sneaked their win across the line, so that he may have, just a mini mini miniscule piece of righteousness on his side when he was throwing the vilest of slurs at his fellow citizen. He just can’t have been wrong. He’s too smart and educated and insightful. And he can’t waste those talents not letting Leave voters know the he knows, what they were thinking.
Guess what, reasonable man. The working classes were able to buy into an idea, were able to see layers of possibility where you could only see hassle and tedium for no material gain. It says a lot that the working classes didn’t need the carrot of personal gain, the promise of personal gain, in fact, repeatedly said they were willing to sacrifice what they had for the principle of the matter.
You could say they were the unreasonable men and women.
Why don’t you go away and work out why you have been such an a$$hole, and probably had a field day in the doing, then come back, fresh, re read the article and try, try and find an imagination somewhere inside of you, to picture a post Brexit future where you want to participate in building a better, stronger country. From a strong country, perhaps the planet can then stand a chance.

You don’t have to be friends with the working classes, mate… just try to stop hating them so much.

Andrew Clitheroe

12th September 2019 at 11:38 am

I’m not tarring everyone with the same brush. Mabe you could do me the same courtesy?

I don’t believe outright racism significantly affected the result, because outright racism has never polled particularly well in the UK.

What I am faced with are these facts:

33% of leave voters cited immigration as their greatest concern, and over 80% considered multiculturalism to be a net negative. At the same time, leave votes were concentrated in the areas least exposed to immigration.

To me this suggests fear at the prospect of losing national identity (as opposed to anger at having lost it) was a factor in play. Nigel Farage campaigned consistently – and largely inaccurately – on an us-vs-them platform of immigration and how detrimental it was to our public services, economy and the prospects of our children. Clearly he believed stoking those concerns was a winning tactic.

Being worried about hospitals and schools and housing and your kids isn’t racist. I worry about those things. Even for Farage, pointing the finger of blame at ‘the other’ rather than years of austerity and lack of investment outside London was more a matter of expediency than anything else.

Then the other matter: what Leavers voted for.

In the referendum we were offered the choice between a general principle – leave the EU – and the practical reality of remaining. A majority chose to leave. Yet now, no practical reality of leaving can command a majority. As I’ve stated elsewhere, it seems unlikely that either of the current options, had they been presented as the concrete alternative to Remain on the ballot, would have carried the day.

On that basis I cannot but conclude that a significant chunk of the 17.4m voted in ignorance of what leaving would actually mean *and would not have thus voted had they known*. I don’t know how else to interpret it. Maybe you are one of those who would have voted out regardless – fine! I’m not denying the existence of people who feel that strongly. I’m simply saying you evidently don’t constitute a majority.

Andrew Clitheroe

12th September 2019 at 3:44 pm

And also: again with the irony? 🙂 You pigeonhole me as your vision of a ‘typical myopic stuck-up remainer’ so that you can… mock me for having stereotyped views of a working class that you… then stereotype yourself as being universally worthy, thoughtful, selfless and far-sighted; a homogeneous lump of 17.4 million who ALL voted for the reasons YOU think they did. You even devote a couple of sentences to mocking me for thinking my views worth sharing – well, echo chambers aren’t healthy things, in my opinon; that’s why I’m here getting called an a-hole and a remaintard.

Jim Lawrie

10th September 2019 at 12:14 pm

There is a large minority of people in this country who have so elevated themselves above the rest that they have bestowed upon their greatness the right to reject any decision, rule or law they do not agree with, and to impose theirs on all others.

They have reduced Parliamentary authority to poking their noses into private meetings and private messages of specific persons, so they can trawl for political brickbats. All at the behest of a QC in Scotland, who in that one court appearance revealed the sham of all his grand principles.

But their right to privacy remains intact. There is to be no equality before the law.

To be part of setting this right we must take a good hard look at our pasts, and put our hands up to any part we played in this erosion. And admit we were wrong.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 10:35 am

It’s no wonder that the Brussel bureaucrats are determined to quash democracy in Europe when they see what’s going on in Parliament. It must be reinforcing their view that it will, and can only, present a series of unending impediments to what they believe to be a progressive utopia. How ironic that Labour and Liberal rebels are aiding and abetting that viewpoint. Power to the people indeed!

Amelia Cantor

10th September 2019 at 10:20 am

Democracy cannot work unless the demos (i.e., the people) are educated, intelligent and moral.

Hitler came to power “democratically”. Ditto the Hungarian fascist Orban. If “democratic” elections were held in Italy right now, it is probable that the fascist Salvini would be prime minister.

Fortunately, Salvini is being kept out of power by people who recognize that democracy cannot work unless the demos (i.e., the people) are educated, intelligent and moral. Indeed, it is often the case that the demos must be guided towards true democracy by a vanguard party of elite thinkers and ethnicists such as the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Alternatively, a corrupt, fascist-tending “democratic” vote such as Brexit can be healed by an influx of progressively-minded voters:

The discussion in Britain has mostly missed out one of the biggest divides that the vote uncovered: 53% of White voters wanted out and 73% of Black voters wanted to stay in the EU. Black voters overwhelmingly supported staying in, not because of any love for the union but because they recognized that the driving force behind the desire to leave was racism.

Geoff Cox

10th September 2019 at 10:50 am

… or black voters don’t identify with the country they live in. So much for integration. Mass immigration is a deliberate policy to undermine the nation state – which also fits the EU agenda. I don’t know what a world without countries will look like, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be pretty politically or otherwise. A remote government with sole right to use violence on the people and a surveillance state where every dissident is a “terrorist”. What keeps people going in totalitarian states at the moment is the knowledge that outside there are better ways of doing things. With a one world government, if it goes wrong, where will hope come from?

A Game

11th September 2019 at 11:43 am

Really lovely.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 10:52 am

Arrogant nonsense. It was German students in German Universities who were burning books in the 1930’s not the ordinary people. Having a degree does not lend you intellectual, or moral, authority over anyone who doesn’t. Further evidenced by the naive belief of Soviet thinking at the beginning of their great experiment; educating the population into working for the common can only lead to a worker’s paradise. Turned out rather well that did didn’t it? Why does each generation automatically think it knows better than the last? History does not repeat, but human behavior does and each generation always end up making the same mistakes as the one before.


10th September 2019 at 11:51 am

The students might have been the ones burning books but the entire country went along with it, including in Austria, where over 99 per cent of the population voted in favour of annexation by Hitler’s Germany. The idea that ‘the people’ are always right is absurd. Hitler was voted into power democratically. In any case, since when has truth been decided by democracy? Having ‘ordinary people’ in control of your government is no guarantee of competence or of probity in government. Leavers have made a fetish of the referendum while completely failing to understand that their actions are undermining parliamentary democracy. We live in a parliamentary democracy, not a popular one. If you want popular democracy, then prepare for the Terror.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 12:06 pm

To ZP. You, of course, forgot to mention that Hitler was emboldened by the Left Wing Parties from all over Europe in the 30’s. Literally falling over themselves with flattery and appeasement for his brand of National Socialism. One of things that a post war France has tried hard not to publicize is the fact that Marxist elements in the Government had struck deals with Hitler even before any of his Panzers rolled through the Ardenne. This goes a long way in explaining why the ten million strong French Army where paralyzed by lack of leadership from the top and were unable to effectively defend. The French, incidentally, still try to blame the rather small British Expeditionary Force for their own dismal performance. Out of great shame, no doubt.

Amin Readh

11th September 2019 at 1:06 am

@ Michael Lynch

What the hell are you talking about? You haven’t got a clue about Hitler and WW2 and just made all that up. The first people Hitler put away were german communists and lefties. The whole rise of Hitler was by blaming the Left.

Michael Lynch

11th September 2019 at 8:09 am

To AR. I don’t know what I’m talking about?!!! He was a Socialist and, guess what, the clue is in his parties name. Also, how do you explain away his pact with Communist Russia? Stalin ordered the Russian invasion of Poland 16 days after Hitler went in. It’s all there to read in history books, or are you reading an alternative version? Talk about the Ministry of Truth!

Phil Ford

10th September 2019 at 11:42 am

I’m guessing Amelia is a joke account, rather like that of Titania McGrath, but just in case it isn’t:

‘..Indeed, it is often the case that the demos must be guided towards true democracy by a vanguard party of elite thinkers and ethnicists such as the Revolutionary Communist Party.’

I’m fairly certain now that this is a joke account.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 11:56 am

Of course it’s a joke account; a troll trying to appear sophisticated and erudite! It’s just doublethink tripe.

Ed Turnbull

10th September 2019 at 12:38 pm

I’m surprised Andrew Doyle hasn’t begun a lawsuit for blatant plaigarism.

Amelia Cantor

11th September 2019 at 10:05 am

I was being sarcastic, Phil. Brendan O’Neill and the rest pretend to speak on behalf of “the people”, but Trotskyists always were liars and opportunists. They’re still the arrogant Revolutionary Communist Party of all, seeing themselves as an elite vanguard guiding humanity towards the Golden Future.

But Trotskyists always get things wrong, just as Leon did. The RCP’s support for Brexit will not benefit them.

Ed Turnbull

10th September 2019 at 12:33 pm

Absolutely Amelia, completely agree – we need a massive influx of progressively-minded muslim voters of colour. Ideally from the Islamic State. Hey, it has ‘Islamic’ in its name, a clear indicator of progressiveness in its DNA. There are plenty of examples of just how progressive these muslims of colour can be: the way in which they give disadvantaged gay muslims of colour freefall skydiving lessons. At no cost. Now that’s progressive! Or, how about the way they provide muslim wombyn of colour with clothing that eliminates any exposure to harmful UV light (and all visible wavelengths too), while allowing them to still feel the benefit of the abundant radiant IR available in those countries. You don’t see our so-called ‘progressive’ policy makers doing that, do you?

Yes, we definitely need more progressive voters of colour. After all, no one but a bigot and racist could dissent from the axiom that all voters of colour are more intelligent, better educated and more moral than the lumpenproletariat. This, of course, doesn’t apply to people like Priti Patel or Sajid Javid – they’re not really people of colour. I mean, take that Javid bloke, he’s as pale as me, if not paler. He’s clearly masquerading as a cabinet minister of colour to try to earn some progressive kudos. But it won’t work, we see right through him. What we need are *real* voters / poloticians of colour, people like Rachel Dolezal or Elizabeth Warren.

Chin chin.

Andrew Leonard

10th September 2019 at 1:40 pm

Ed, what AC is championing is the old idea of the noble savage – just updated with more modern and politically correct terminology.
Black and brown skin people are good, decent and moral. Working class white people are ignorant, racist, intolerant scumbags.
What’s the motive behind the belief? Cheap labour. Ain’t nothin’ changed in that regard since the Atlantic slave trade. Back then, people like Amelia, who was no doubt born with a silver spoon in her mouth, would have done her bit by providing fierce opposition to Abolitionists.
The ruling class always gets to decide who is moral and who isn’t, no matter how unethical their position. It’s just a sad fact of life.

Amelia Cantor

11th September 2019 at 10:10 am

yawn. Your clumsy sarcasm doesn’t change the reality: that whites like you are dying out and communities of colour are rising fast both in numbers and political influence.

What we need are *real* voters / poloticians of colour, people like Rachel Dolezal or Elizabeth Warren.

Typical rightard dishonesty. No-one in the progressive community accepts that Rachel Dolezal is BAME. But we in the progressive community do accept Diane Abbott, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as BAME. That is because they are. And they are the future. You are the past. How tragic for you.

Andrew Leonard

10th September 2019 at 1:22 pm

53% of White voters wanted out and 73% of Black voters wanted to stay in the EU.

Yes, and the 27% of blacks that voted Leave obviously have internalised racism.

Jim Lawrie

10th September 2019 at 1:29 pm

The race stats you quote show that the incomers have no interest in integrating, but are the lackeys of their enablers.

At least you are up front with your support for gerrymandering. The immigrants add to the divisions, and give them violent form. Not a recipe for harmony.

Neil McCaughan

10th September 2019 at 4:38 pm

Orban isn’t a fascist.

You are.

Amelia Cantor

11th September 2019 at 10:15 am

Time to brush up on elementary logic, Neil. If someone supports Diane Abbott and Ilhan Omar, zey cannot be a fascist. I support Diane and Ilhan, therefore…

As for Orban…

In a speech last week Orban recalled the rule of interwar Governor Miklos Horthy, a divisive figure who led the country for 24 years until 1944, signing several landmark laws against Jews and eventually surrendering more than 500,000 to the Nazi Holocaust. “That history did not bury us [after World War I] is down to a few exceptional statesmen [like] Gov. Miklos Horthy,” he said. “That fact cannot be negated by Hungary’s mournful role in World War II.”

Ok, Orban’s not a fascist. He just likes fascists and implements fascist policies.

Ven Oods

10th September 2019 at 5:41 pm

You forgot to work in ‘cisgender’. Stay behind after school.

Amelia Cantor

11th September 2019 at 10:15 am

My bad.

A Game

11th September 2019 at 7:49 pm

You young ones are struggling with the holes in your history. The wrinklies have had the nerve to introduce WW2 and you’re now behind.
Hitler wasn’t democratically elected. That’s one of the things that makes what he did so awful. He was appointed in an electoral deadlock (I think Germany had had 4 elections) promising he’d be trustworthy to run the country. Anyone better than a communist at that point. And I guess you think he kept winning landslide victories, thereafter, right?
Sometimes its better to just know stuff before you decide to preside over society telling them what they get wrong and what they really ought to be doing.

Using Hitler as an example of why people shouldn’t have democracy… beyond belief.

John Millson

10th September 2019 at 9:59 am

As a voter for remain in the EU, in 2016 – a rarity for sp!ked – I agree with much of this.
Though no one could have expected the 2016 Brexit vote aftermath to be pain-free, when the result was announced. The narrow margin, which reflected how crucial and potentially calamitous the implications of the ‘Leave/Remain the EU’ binary were, plus social divisions, made impermeable by social media.
With a crass executive saying all the wrong things and the losing much of its power…we all know the rest.
Boris Johnson, since the London mayorship, a deeply divisive figure, has obviously atagonised the establishment, with an undemocratic act, in spirit. The reaction from the establishment can seem to be undemocratic if it’s portrayed that way. He is playing mightily dangerous games, political fool that he is.
Yes, any confirmatory vote would have to have those two options and not ‘Remain.’
Just hoping the majority of MPs vote for some kind of orderly exit, so the electorate can be ‘We’ again.

Jim Lawrie

10th September 2019 at 11:06 am

The Mp’s vote last week not to exit. What now follows is formality.

You bandy the word democratic around as if it were malleable to your cause.
June 23, 2016, we voted to “Leavethe European Union” .
You voted to “Remain a member of The European Union” .

John Millson

10th September 2019 at 12:09 pm

It is ‘undemocratic’ to ignore/overturn the 2016 referendum vote just as it is ‘undemocratic’ to suspend the national parliament needlessly.
Yes, I voted to remain in the EU in 2016 and I am on the ‘losing side’ now. We have to leave the EU.
However, we *shouldn’t* have to leave it in such a way that poisons our international relations and destroys our union, in addition to endangering our economy, giving the green light to the: ‘because-of-Brexit’ mantra, allowing profiteering and needless laying off. Why is that so hard to accept?
The ‘We’/’you’ divide has to end. Granted, it is more likely to disappear in the event of WTO/No Deal than perpetually delaying the implementation of Brexit, but it cannot be criminal to try to get some sort agreement in place which gives us stability.
Nationalist, cultural sentiments and declarations are all fine but without material security for all citizens, they are meaningless and insulting.

Mike Ellwood

10th September 2019 at 5:41 pm

It was very unfortunate that we ended up with Theresa May as PM after Cameron stepped down. I have no idea what might have happened if Cameron had stayed on (as he had originally promised to do), but (we now know) that May was definitely not the right person for the job. She attempted to please everyone (by delivering a nominal Brexit which was essentially Remain in all but name). I think she actually meant well, given that the referendum result was so close. But her handling of it was a complete disaster, not helped of course, by her (as can now see) foolish decision to hold an election in 2017.

David Webb

10th September 2019 at 9:27 am

But “pre-political loyalty to each other” depends on ethnonationalism. There is no pre-political loyalty in a multicultural polity whose population has a large percentage of people allowed to come here in order to destroy the very concept of “the British people”. Spiked is extremely confused on this – because it supports unlimited migration. Democracy depends on a common ethnic heritage in the demos (as pointed out by John Stuart Mill in On Representative Government).

A Game

12th September 2019 at 1:34 am

Noel Pearson has described what we have ended up with as plural monocultures. The “multicultural” ideal that was initiated, without consultation, which means its flaws could never be exposed or highlighted, was a bum steer.
Bureaucrats and dopey politicians once again getting all misty but never getting practical.
Of course the result is 1st generation children are being torn between two cultures and the native (UK, that’s white people. US and Australia – different situ on so many levels) population feel physically, culturally usurped. (Which is not an unreasonable thing. I think someone… who, who, I can’t remember… something about someone coming into your house and changing the carpet… And they are right. India didn’t like it, African nations didn’t, South Americans didn’t.)
And until it comes clean what the goals are re immigration – its primarily an economic tool, but is campaigned on as a humanitarian issue – and ditch these buzzwords of “diversity”, which gets used as an umbrella to cover a multitude of ideas, many at cross purposes with each other. Has it been deliberate to conflate immigrants with refugees? They are very different things.

Its a conundrum, right? How to fix it?
I think the first step for those feeling discontented is to get over it. Its been done, incompetently, but its done. They are British, too, now, (obviously its to split what British is – Scottish, Welsh, Unionist, Jamaican, Indian etc and its about everyone wriggling and finding space, whilst also enjoying the common ground. Otherwise, what? Anyone with a dusky hue gets shipped off somewhere? And if that’s your dream… let it die. (Its not practical, your economy would crash if you need something tangible.)
The true crushing point is how much does the host country concede to make new citizens happy. At the moment, it appears to be everything – long fought for civil liberties, the law, education etc etc. That extreme obviously needs to be moderated. That many immigrants come to the West to leave the flaws of their old country behind. They are your fellow agitators in the fight for liberty, or living standards, not your enemy. Spiked have argued long and hard about why identity politics is a dud.
Pollution, nutrition, abused children and animals, literacy and skills… so many areas always need to be minded. Re running Love Thy Neighbour for another 50 or 100 years… its a waste of perfectly good energy.

John Entwistle

10th September 2019 at 9:00 am

When I woke up on the morning of the referendum result I felt a little sick. I’d voted leave after much research – and soul searching -but to wake up being no longer part of the EU made me apprehensive. But i was proud of us as a country….we’d made the hard, but ultimately correct, choice. As someone in my late 40’s it would be unlikely that i would get any benefit from taking the right road…but our children would. Three years have passed since ‘we left the EU’. It seems so quaint and naive for me to have been so apprehensive about my decision on that sunny yet brisk morning.

Warren Alexander

10th September 2019 at 8:47 am

Perhaps most frightening of all, is that MPs appear to genuinely believe that “ordinary people” are so stupid that they believe the lies the politicians tell us.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 9:00 am

Excellent point. I think they’re going to find out the answer to that when the GE finally comes.

Jim Lawrie

10th September 2019 at 11:29 am

Looking at polls on various political issues, the numbers answering I don’t know or refusing to answer specific or all questions, has increased sharply. Trust is diminishing by the day.

Many polling organisations withhold this information, else who would buy their services?

It is credit to Boris Johnson that he called for an election when all polls indicate he would have fewer seats and less of the vote than now.

Geoff Cox

10th September 2019 at 8:15 am

Yes fantastic article especially this sentence:

“But in the intervening three years there has been a general change of outlook, one fostered by the unending repetition of lies which has enabled MPs to disregard the referendum result with a clear conscience”.

Aside form that, we have to get away from the binary politics which has ruined the Brexit debate and split the country. I’m a committed leaver, but had legacy remain (after a few months) got seriously behind Brexit, then I would have been the first to include remainers into the discussions about our future relationship with the EU. But the remainers have poisoned the well with their disingenuous lies and cheating in Parliament.

PS unlike the author of this article, I am a UKIP supporter.

Amin Readh

11th September 2019 at 1:02 am

You really are a kipper, aren’t you!?

A Game

12th September 2019 at 1:53 am

One area I haven’t paid attention to is what UKIP is about these days, especially with the creation of the Brexit Party. Doesn’t the latter supercede the former? That Doyle pointedly steps away from it, is it now a UK version of One Nation in Australia? (Found it a hoot when the politically correct chose that title.)

Stephen J

10th September 2019 at 8:02 am

Our constitution is written, where do you think all these arcane twists and turns are coming from?

The problem for our constitution though is that many MP’s think like Andrew Doyle that it is not written down, so a couple of morons like Clegg and Cameron could without understanding the consequences, modify that constitution.

What did they do? The Fixed Term Parliament Act. Passed for one reason, to protect Clegg as he entered into a coalition with the Tories.

If that act had never been put onto the statute, we would be out of the EU and we would have a new PM, since the MayBot would have lost the confidence vote that SHOULD have followed her defeat over the Selmayr Treaty.

Bridget Jones

10th September 2019 at 6:40 am

Those who support the anti electorate remain alliance and who believe all the wild project fear lies of starvation, no transport, increased mortality, STDs running rife, planes falling from the sky etc are backing politicians who voted for us to have a referendum with an option of creating this alleged ‘horror’, failed to make a good enough case to win a vote against it, then voted the legislation through parliament and into law with the ‘horror’ as the default position, spent the next 3 years doing all the can frustrate any deal to prevent the ‘horror’, 3 times voted against what the EU offered leaving the ‘horror’ as the default. So who do they claim is ‘low information’


10th September 2019 at 11:53 am

Do you seriously think that all remainers believe ‘project fear’? I have no idea what will happen if and when we ‘leave the EU’ but I still think Brexit is a stupid idea produced by a fantasy of what Britain is.

Neil McCaughan

10th September 2019 at 4:36 pm

You promised to leave the country. Why haven’t you gone?

A Game

12th September 2019 at 2:07 am

Bam! Nice summation.

reality lite

10th September 2019 at 6:25 am

One thing that seems increasingly likely. The UK’s going to be getting itself a written constitution. With the Speaker’s aid, Remain MP’s have taken a coach & horses through parliamentary custom & precedent & Remainer lawfare has involved the courts in the demographic process. As a result, parliamentary democracy, as was, is a gutted corpse.
Trouble is, of course, it’s this bunch of no-hopers are going to be writing the constitution. So they’ll write one means we can never get rid of them.

Dominic Straiton

10th September 2019 at 8:05 am

The very last thing we need is a written constitution. It would be written by MPs “Lords” and associated hangers with a few well chosen academics. It would be aimed at enslaving the population. Mind you we could always go for the Lisbon treaty and cut out the middle men.


10th September 2019 at 11:54 am

Then why don’t you adopt a version of the German or US constitutions? Many countries with written constitutions flourish politically and economically. The UK’s unwritten ‘constitution’ is clearly highly inadequate.

Ed Turnbull

10th September 2019 at 12:45 pm

@Zenobia Palmyra. I’d quite happily accept a version of the US constitution, well the 1st, 2nd and 5th amendments anyway. Guaranteed freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to remain silent. Sounds good to me, bring it on.

Amin Readh

10th September 2019 at 3:15 am

Poor argument over proportional representation – pros and cons analysis? UK’s whole system is designed for first ‘past the post’. And it too has at least some “merits”. You directly vote for and elect your local MP. PR system takes that away from you.

Then how does Spiked sum up its very strong anti-identatrian stance with PR system? Say a minority, ethnic or religious or something [feminists, vegans, environment], on those basis clubbed together, then they would have MP and therefore a voice in politics and power. In FPtP this is virtually impossible. So how would that be fair representation? You just end up encouraging identity politics.

So now it is near impossible for there to be a Muslim MP standing for an Islamist Party. Yet, PR would make that far, far more likely.

Andrew Leonard

10th September 2019 at 3:02 am

I agree with Michael Lynch that this is an excellent piece of writing.
However, was it lacking is the cynicism required to understand the true meaning of a referendum, in the 21st century.
A referendum is not a method by which a government or parliament determines a possible change of policy on a specific issue by asking the public to vote on the issue and then adopting the policy of the winning choice.
No, a referendum is actually a means by which the electorate get to show their loyalty to the ruling class by voting the “correct” way on a fundamental issue. It is not at all about asking the public to decide. The correct answer is already agreed upon – the public is not voting to determine the best way forward. The referendum question is associated with a correct answer and an incorrect answer. If the public majority is for the incorrect answer, this preference will not be acted on, and the public may be asked to vote again until the correct answer achieves a majority.
In 1999, Australia had a referendum on becoming a republic. The public voted majority No, however it is highly likely that a Yes majority would have seen Australia breaking official ties with the British monarchy, with necessary changes to the constitution. That was how things worked in the 20th century.
Times have changed, and one of those changes is the meaning and purpose of a referendum. I say that as a solid Brexit supporter.

Kevin Neil

10th September 2019 at 2:14 pm

Exactly Andrew, as expertly represented by Anna “I only backed a Referendum because I thought Remain would win” Soubry: –

Mike Ellwood

10th September 2019 at 5:50 pm

To be honest, I think we all thought Remain would win. Cameron certainly did.

Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 1:38 am

Gosh, if only I could write like that! A brilliant, shining piece of writing that clearly and intelligently explains the current situation. A refreshing helping of reason and logic after tonight’s insanity in Parliament.

Amin Readh

10th September 2019 at 2:33 am


Michael Lynch

10th September 2019 at 8:58 am


Ven Oods

10th September 2019 at 5:51 pm

Surely, one can admire an article without being a brown-noser?

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