Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's called democracy, dammit.

Two recent political stories make me wonder about how democracy in this country is going to shake out over the next few years.

While the likes of Iain Dale are correct in pointing out that whatever else it is, Boris Johnson's election is not a bad day for democracy, there are a couple of other stories that indicate other things might be.

Take for instance the news that Stuart Wheeler has successfully obtained a judicial review of the government's decision not to hold a referendum on the European Constitutional/Review Treaty. While it would be rather entertaining seeing Gordon Brown getting slapped down by the courts - and why not, everyone else is giving him a good kicking at the moment so it's only fair the judges should have a turn - I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that a court can presume it might even have the power to strike down parliamentary legislation on the basis of an election promise. (Side note to the likes of the Devil's Kitchen complaining about Boris banning booze on the Tube - it was in his manifesto. You don't get to cheer when Gordon gets a shoeing over failure to keep his election promises, and simultaneously complain when Boris keeps his - at least be consistent).

The other issue that concerns me even more is the report in last night's the London Paper about the anti BNP protest at City Hall yesterday - with the paper reporting one protestor as saying their aim was to "force" Richard Barnbrook "out of office". I loathe the BNP - and I have little time for any party that would refuse to have my son or daughter as a member simply because of the colour of their skin. However, I am equally uncomfortable with the idea that in a democracy we should seek to "force" someone who was democratically elected out of their office simply because we find their politics odious. Apart from the fact it will simply harden the hearts of those who voted for the BNP as a protest vote (the whole "anti political establishment" mentality can only be reinforced by this kind of thing), the democratic solution is to wait four years and then campaign hard to get rid of him (either that or change the system so that minority parties find it harder to gain Assembly seats - just like Westminster! I some how think the Greens might not like that though!) I also suspect that the people protesting this would be the same people who defended Ken's association with Sheikh Qaradawi on the grounds he was a moderate next to those who were so disenfranchised they took to blowing up the Tube. Hows that for double standards - why is associating with those who would behead homosexuals better than associating with unpleasant racists who advocate the voluntary "repatriation" of any one with dark skin?

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