February 1 2017 was a really bad day in the history of this country. With a lot of talk about heavy hearts and misgivings and a wish for more detail and reassurances together with some platitudinous weasel statements designed to provide those, our elected members of parliament gave in to the mob.
They’ll claim it was the will of the people and that although it was less than 40% of the population that was sufficient. They’ll say that some people knew the referendum result would be binding on government. They’ll say that a better opposition at the time would have delivered a different result. So, what?
Politicians and democracy are there as a balance, as the first line of constraint against the mob and they are there because history shows that mobs are easily whipped up around single causes. It was considered the will of the people at the time which burned down the Reichstag and it was the will of the people which conveyed numbers of people to the guillotine. If the will of the people is supreme then we should have capital punishment, no rights for gay people, fewer rights for women and no speed limits. That’s nonsense! Society and the political system are there to balance the cries of the mob.
Is it fair to describe Brexit voters as a mob. Wasn’t there a fair debate with both sides given a hearing conducted over a reasonable length of time? Well, if you live in BBC La-La Land that might seem to be the case but not if you read the papers where a racist press provided a constant repetition of bile and was able to control the agenda for any discussion. Politicians and the broadcasters fell into line with this agenda regardless of the facts. Facts? Precious few of them. Lies about the benefits to the NHS, lies about rates of immigration and refugee numbers, lies about worker and human rights dominated the discussion. In the end, the Brexit vote was very close in numbers to the reach and readership of the tabloid press
That’s how a mob is fired up. Feed it lies from what seem to be authoritative sources, constantly repeat them so that the truth gets confused, engage rabble leaders and give them platforms, and create diametrically opposed points of view. If you think this is populism or a disenchantment with politicians that Parliament must respond to then you too have swallowed the tabloid pill. This was a mob.
If we know this from history then why are our politicians so short of moral values and moral leadership? Why don’t they act as the elected representatives of the people, not by carrying out their will, but by legislating on their behalf? If they cannot understand the difference, who can? Yesterday, a large number of MPs representing constituencies where there was a majority vote to remain in the EU, supported the government. They didn’t carry out the will of the people who live in their constituencies or represent them and, worse still, a lot said they didn’t feel too good about it. That is incomprehensible. Moral leadership means standing up for what you believe, taking tough decisions, and not following the easy way or the shouts of the mob.