The fight for democracy

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I rarely write blogs in fearful anticipation. This morning I do, at least a little. The Supreme Court announces its decision on Boris Johnson’s action in proroguing parliament at 10.30.

My fear is that he will win, and that possibility must exist. That would then mean that the opportunity for massive abuse existed. Given the way matters are progressing I have little doubt such abuse would then happen in the future.

My fear is also that he will lose, and then show complete contempt for parliament, and get away with it. Given the ineffectual leadership of the Opposition - with this action against government abuse having to be led by others, and most especially the SNP - the chance of that is very high. I wish it was otherwise, but that seems to be the way it is. 

I am well aware that I have a degree of faith in democracy that is, on occasion, hard to rationally explain. So often I loathe what politicians do with the power with which they have been entrusted. And yet there is good reason for my faith, and why I stick by this system that, as it currently operates, does not deliver a lot of what we might hope for. And that is because it does provide hope. There is at least implicit in democracy the chance that we might be able to sweep away that which is rotten. And there have been examples in my life when that hope has been fulfilled, even if those who won never delivered on all the dreams pinned to them on the way.

So what of this morning? What I want, of course, is the upholding of an appropriate check and balance, because all good systems of democracy require those. So, it is essential that the courts decide that they can intervene and play this role: without their doing so we have no means to hold an errant executive to account.

And I hope that they will also direct what must be done: again, without them doing so there is no way to ensure that the democracy of this country is upheld.

But most of all I want the law that I hope is clarified to be obeyed, both in spirit and letter, because the message if it is not is that politicians feel above such mere details.

We have seen before what happens when politicians think themselves above mere details: the MP’s expense scandal was example of that. It was deeply corrosive of public life. It undermined faith in democracy and Westminster. It discourage good candidates from coming forward for posts that felt tainted. And we all lost as a result.

We cannot afford to go back to such positions of abuse. Johnson has to be reminded he is subject to the law, and must comply with it. But most of all, we must know that there is law that is intended to protect our freedoms. 

I am hoping.