I am so bored with hearing that all issues relating to the EU were decided in the June referendum. I am even more bored with being told that pointing this obvious fact out is, somehow, undemocratic. And that is the point of this blog because the reality is that democracy, firstly, never resolves an issue finally and, secondly, always permits those who disagree with the outcome of an election to seek an alternative result in the future.
Let me explore those two issues a little more. First, the whole point of democracy is that alternative opinions are offered and decided upon. And the fundamental point is that the decision is not forever. Debate is always allowed to continue. Indeed, it is an essential part of our democracy that one parliament cannot bind the next. In other words when, as is required by democratic process, a new parliament is elected that new parliament can reverse all the work of the previous one if it so wishes and that is considered a fundamental characteristic of democracy at work. Implicit in democracy then is the fact that nothing is binding forever.
Second, it is an absolutely essential feature of democracy that we do not accept that democratic decisions once made are right. In fact, democracy is dependent upon the fact that we do not do that. To understand that fact consider the alternative. This would be that once a party had been elected we would never then be able to challenge the decision of the electorate on that issue ever again. And yet, of course, the whole point of democracy is that from the moment a government is elected all other political parties then go out of their way to tell the electorate that they got their decision wrong and next time they vote they should change their minds and vote for other parties. In other words, there is not only nothing wrong in saying the referendum result is wrong, or in demanding a second vote, but it’s actually indication of a belief in democracy to do so. Those who say otherwise are the anti-democrats.
In that case can we now dismiss all those offering spurious arguments that the democratic will of the people has decided this issue once and for all as either wrong or as being anti-democratic in country where democracy defines our system of government?