muskateers

The UK needs to see a proper debate, not one in which it descends into name calling and relegates facts to the realm of irrelevance.

“Oh, you are kidding! Not another election,” or so went the gist of the reaction from many members of the public to the news that Mrs May had called for another public vote, this time a general election scheduled for June 8th.

We live in a democracy, it was a democracy that evolved over centuries, and many died to support the creation of this form of government. But with the vote comes responsibility. If you think we are having too many public votes, then maybe you should consider migrating to a country that is ruled by a dictator.

The most dangerous thing a democracy can ever experience is an electorate resigning responsibility, or indeed curtailing the checks and balances that stop democracies from turning into a form of populist tyranny. Turkey may be a good place for vote hating voters to consider moving to.

The Daily Mail, normally a newspaper that is quite reserved and considered in venturing opinion, led with the headline today ‘Crush the Saboteurs’. How very unlike the Mail to perform to the populist contingency!

To understand the danger, cast your mind back to a time when not many readers of this article were born: 415 BC. It was a time of crowd celebration. The world’s first democracy was in a jubilant mood, under the charismatic spell of Alcibiades, a great orator of that time, Athens assembled a massive armada to sail to the island of Sicily and there teach the upstart power of the island, Syracuse, a lesson it would never forget. Alas, the populist cause was not well thought through, Syracuse called for aid from its ally Sparta, and from this Athens entered into an unwinnable war against Sparta and from this, democracy faded from the world, it went out, not to be lit again for more than 2,000 years.

Alas we too easily forget. That is the lesson of populism. To thrive, democracy needs thoughtful debate, and an electorate who take their responsibly to support this thoughtful debate seriously.

Instead, we live in an age when debate about Brexit is seen as unpatriotic, those who lament the result of the referendum are castigated as remoaners and now as saboteurs.

The election campaign that is set to commence is way too important to allow it to become dominated by such irresponsible twaddle.

The soul of Britain is on the line, the best we can hope for is intelligence and reasoned debate backed by an internet that makes it possible to easily fact check any statement made by a politician or newspaper columnist.

The worst that can happen is debate that is relegated to name calling, one that responds to intelligent argument by accusing the proponents of such arguments of being unpatriotic assassins of Rule Britannia.

We enter a period when the true enemy of the people are those who discourage debate, and tug the populist chords, like a latter-day Alcibiades, using emotive language appealing to our baser instincts, rather than attempting to encourage debate. They are the true saboteurs.