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Friday, 13 September 2019

Democracy Trumps Courts

Lord Sumption was clearly by accident or design a superb choice to deliver the Reith lectures this year. The current hysteria is seeing the courts and judges assailed by a plethora of very wealthy litigants, from London to Edinburgh and Belfast, litigants fired with zealous righteousness and with faces infused to a shade of puce with the justice of their cause. They are seeking to find a court, any court, that will assist them in blocking the nation's democratic decision to leave the EU. Sumption had this to say - albeit as part of a lecture on Human Rights law, but it fits -
Democracy, in its traditional sense, is a fragile construct.It is extremely vulnerable to the idea that one’s own values are so obviously urgent and right that the means by which one gets them adopted don’t matter. That is one reason why it exists in only a minority of states. Even in those states it is of relatively recent origin and its basic premises are under challenge by the advocates of various value-based systems. One of these is a system of law-based decision making which would entrench a broad range of liberal principles as the constitutional basis of the state. Democratic choice would be impotent to remove or limit them without the authority of courts of law. 
Now, this is a model in which many lawyers ardently believe. The essential objection to it is that it is conceptually no different from the claim of communism, fascism, monarchism, Catholicism, Islamism and all the other great isms that have historically claimed a monopoly of legitimate political discourse on the ground that its advocates considered themselves to be obviously right. But other models are possible. One can believe in rights without wanting to remove them from the democratic arena by placing them under the exclusive jurisdiction of a priestly caste of judges. One can believe that one’s fellow citizens ought to choose liberal values without wanting to impose them.
This recourse to private law is in many cases an attempt by those who do not enjoy democratic support  for their viewpoint to seek to bludgeon, compel and coerce a majority whom they cannot outvote into giving them their own way. As such, this use of our courts and judges is a clear abuse of process in an advanced democracy. It is open only to the very wealthy, and if it succeeds it unbalances our democratic equilibrium. Remember that Mrs Miller only has one vote, and it is worth exactly the same as your vote or my vote, however wealthy and well-connected she may be.

Sumption also examines in depth the relationship between law and democracy in the area of, for nations that have one, the constitution. Spoiler alert: he is opposed for very clear reasons to the adoption of a written constitution for Britain, and I'll tackle this in a future post.

And as that arsewipe Bercow must learn, an anti-democratic and Rogue Parliament and a bent Speaker hiding from the ballot box and the electors behind the walls of Westminster must also be brought to heel by the votes of the people.


Bloke in North Dorset said...

Democracy, in its traditional sense, is a fragile construct.It is extremely vulnerable to the idea that one’s own values are so obviously urgent and right that the means by which one gets them adopted don’t matter.

Something that Brexit purists might like to ponder.

Raedwald said...

Um, surely it is the Brexiteers that have to date been the very model of strength in their support of democracy? The democratic mandate conferred by the Referendum must surely be honoured?

We have a government committed to democratic outcomes and legality. We have a clear majority (64% at the latest polls) in the country who want to see Brexit concluded. We are desperate for a General Election to reform an anti-democratic Parliament and Speaker. I would say that Brexiteers have been outstanding in their support of democracy.

Mark said...

So what's the difference between a brexiteer and a brexit purist? If you mean the latter are for no deal and the former for well, as treason herself said 108 times " no deal is better than a bad deal".

What is currently on the table is a VERY bad deal, so much so that even remainers were rejecting it. What evidence do we have that it will get better. Haven't they so far simply refused to change anything?

No deal was the default until the parliament who were elected on the promise of delivering a brexit suddenly decided that "leave the european union" means leave with a deal.

If the constitution has ONE overarching principle, it is that no parliament can bind its successor. This parliament is trying to do precisely that.

DeeDee99 said...

The British people have had the power to control "those who believe they are (a) right and (b) born to rule since universal suffrage was completed when women got the right to vote. But they've never really exercised it. (Although the Atlee and Thatcher elections were an attempt).

I doubt that they'll exercise it at the next General Election, even after the appalling behaviour of the losing Establishment Remainers. The two main parties both have a vested interest in making the General Election all about austerity/the ending of austerity; the NHS and climate change, helped by their pals in the media. They aren't going to want to discuss the Establishment's campaign to overturn a democratic vote or the BRINO which will have been forced on us by a Remainer Parliament. They certainly won't want to talk about Constitutional change.

It will be "move along, nothing to see here" and back to politics-as-usual. Most of the sheeple, who are sick to death of politics, will be bribed with their own money again and comply; many won't bother to vote since it's pointless and the 12% or thereabouts who really care about Sovereignty, democracy and the disgraceful distortion of our Constitution by the Remainers do not have the numbers or the power to change anything.

I will vote for the Brexit Party in the next General Election and thereafter I shan't bother voting again. The old saying is correct "if voting changed anything, they'd ban it."

Stephen J said...

For me, the devil is in the FixedTerm Parliament Act, this BROKE our written constitution.

It is precisely this kind of act which needs the oversight of direct democracy. Scrutiny by 50 million people has to be much more than mob rule and also has to be more than the sum of output from a closed shop like the legal profession.

John Brown said...

DeeDee99 @ 08:07 : "...I shan't bother voting again…”

But this is just what the anti-democratic establishment want! You must keep voting for the party that most represents your wishes even if in your constituency it appears a wasted vote.

For me, the other measure I can take is to refuse to buy goods from anyone of whom I do not approve.

I have not bought any French agricultural products since 1990 when French farmers set fire to one truckload of live British sheep, killing 219 of them as well as poisoning, slitting throats and dousing others with insecticide.

Now I would not buy a German car after the disgraceful diesel emissions testing fraud and I certainly will not be buying any products from Southern Ireland.

Dave_G said...

I still think the British public will not allow the Referendum result to be overturned even post-GE and a Remain Government (which it won't be - the polls are severely wrong in their belief that Labour or the Lib Dums will make progress).

If TBP gets the media coverage it is entitled to then its one-issue focus will concentrate minds - not that this is particularly needed as imho people are pissed off enough with the global warmists non-issue and the NHS/austerity subject won't EVER be resolved to anyone complete satisfaction. Brexit will dominate and only TBP have the truth on their side.

And the actions by the opposition in blocking a referendum gives truth to my supposition above - they are running scared. Very scared.

If the Brits can be accused of anything they can be accused of, along with apathy, the traits of intransigence and stubbornness, of which the EU should be more aware of in their attempts to subvert democracy here as they tried to subvert Europe during WW2. They WILL NOT SUCCEED.

What we need to be MORE careful of is the slow mission-creep of censorship and never forget the likes of Assange (regardless of your thoughts on him personally) who are a thorn in the side of any Government seeking to hide their intent when they should be seeking our consent instead.

JPM said...

We told you that if Leave won the referendum then it would inescapably be a mess.

You won and it is.

Get over it.

Mark said...

The mess remainers have deliberately made in their willful attempts to overturn the referendum.

Admit it.

Anonymous said...

@John Brown,

Another criterion is whether or not you made enough money in that other country to justify buying anything from them, and even without counting the nett cost of supporting the EU, probably rules out the things that you won't buy anyway.

My mother used to say that buying Irish butter put a bullet in an English soldier's back.

Stephen J said...

The criticism that the Brexit Party has only one policy, should more properly be referred to as an asset.

Manifestoes full of promises appear at every election, but it is surprising if even one of the clauses in a given party's manifesto makes it into law, unless completely watered down in the process. What is more, the agent of dilution is usually no more than Vichy Water.

It isn't quite right yet, but the model is something that is very new.

i.e. Identify a cause, create a disciplined pressure group and campaign until there is no need to any longer. It is merely an aid to how direct democracy should work.

The worst thing under such a scenario would be to imagine that Nigel Farage and Richard Tice are any more than campaigners. There are far too many professional politicians in this world. As I suggested yesterday, they are all including Farage, suffering from inflated ego and an accompanying sense of superiority.

It is the model that Nigel has been operating under since the beginning of UKIP and the reason that he left. UKIP was being developed by its NEC into a political party, which is very cosy for the entitled, but doesn't advance society one iota. That sense of superiority is not nasty, it is just what happens to leaders, and it is very easy to forget how one became a leader, by having something to offer.

The party system is a relic of the 19th century and it is about time that we were allowed to run the place ourselves.

DeeDee99 said...

@ John Brown

I too am "voting" with my purchasing power. I boycott EU products; I don't holiday in Euroland. That is the only power I have left to me. My vote has been stolen by the anti-democrats in Parliament and - Brexit Party aside - not one of the parties represents my views.

I live in West Dorset - Oliver Letwin's Constituency. To my shame, I voted for him in 2017 (the first time I voted CON since the Maastricht Treaty) because Treason May's Manifesto promised to deliver a genuine Brexit ... and a no deal exit if a decent deal was not on offer.

Last year, Oliver Letwin told his Association that despite standing for election on that Manifesto, he had never agreed with it and wouldn't be supporting it. He has led the campaign to overturn it.

Now why would I trust ANY politician - other than the BP - after that? Without some power of recall over politicians who blatantly LIE to their Constituents, there is no point voting.

John Brown said...

No Parliament can bind a future Parliament.

Since the current Parliament is trying to thwart Brexit, despite the Leave vote winning 64:36 by constituency, a delay to a clean and true Brexit can only be delayed until a new Parliament is voted in....unless of course the Speaker and the current Parliament intend to go completely rogue and revoke Article 50 followed by canceling any further GEs....

It is therefore absolutely essential to keep voting for Brexit.

Anonymous said...

JPM said @ 09:48

'We told you that if Leave won the referendum then it would inescapably be a mess.'

We had a binary vote on our membership and a majority voted against remaining. Very simple and most people had in their mind the experience to make that decision. Polling showed at the time if a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty had been put to the people it would have been rejected. Hostility toward this project is nothing new; what is new is the attitude of many of our elected representatives, who seem to have forgotten that they themselves passed a law called the European Union Referendum Act 2015. Even after the referendum the European Union Bill of 2017 to invoke Article 50 was passed by 498 to 114.

Get over it.


JPM said...

"The people" do not demand a General Election now.

Some might want one, but Brenda in Bristol speaks for many millions, probably the majority of voters.

Three in four years would be a bit silly, really. Even the Italians don't often do that.

Let's wait until people can see this Tory-owned pile for what it always was going to be.

Boris vin Chaud said...

6 out of 6 for the Boris and his merry Brexiters.

Markets are voting for a rise in the Pound (2-month high). Humiliation lessened.

Dave_G said...


Brexit is only a mess because of attitudes like yours and the fuckwits you represent DELIBERATELY confusing and delaying events.

If the UK simply stopped paying the EU and fuckwits allowed our negotiators to actually use a no-deal threat as a negotiating/bargaining position maybe we could have sorted something out a long, long time ago.

But the fuckwits knew what they were doing by disallowing a no-deal exit, just as they knew what they were TRYING to do by encouraging May's Surrender Agreement.

Fuckwits don't believe in democracy, don't consider the people to be sovereign and want the UK to remain regardless of public position and only consider their personal fuckwit proposals and ideas as gospel that everyone else should obey.

I really hope that those fuckwit remain traitors have aneurysms of apoplexy when Brexit finally occurs. Their loss to society will probably be celebrated.

JPM said...

I see that Al Johnson has refused to make a sworn statement for the Court, as to his reasons for suspending Parliament.

He does at least seem to realise that he'd go to prison for lying on oath, then.

Thanks Dave, I enjoyed that rib-tickler.

Yes, BvC. "You can't buck the markets".

fnord said...

From here in the "colonies", where our politics are similarly infested with quislings, a piece of political theater suggests itself.

Applying this to all MP's is probably overkill, and it can't be limited to just Labour and SNP since There are ao many Traitorous Tories. I guess do it where the Remain MP is betraying its Leave constituency.

Anyway, simultaneously, at a central place in each, place a placard on a lamppost reading "Reserved for (name of MP). with a length of rope helpfully coiled beneath.