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Sunday, 26 January 2020

Look back sans rancour (1)

In the absence of 'events' this week, until Friday I'll be offering selected snippets from the past three and a half years. Starting today with the referendum itself. This first, on the eve of the referendum, featured the late great Roger Scruton. The BBC podcast is still there, and he still says what I wrote he said. Like Lord Sumption, Roger had a greater faith in representative democracy and a greater fear of the alternative than we, who make up the alternative, of course hold. Both thought the referendum was a bad idea, and of course it will take half a century to prove them wrong. Or right. But both subjugated themselves willingly to the outcome.
22nd June 2016
On this penultimate day I'd like to offer a few reflections and pose a few questions, largely those arising from two events - last night's TV debate, and an unnoticed 10 minute broadcast by Roger Scruton.

I've long admired the work of Roger Scruton, particularly that which I perceived as acting against Totalitarianism and towards the growth of an effective and empowered citizenry. Roger has also long had a view that the purpose of our democratic structures is to homogenise and deradicalise populism; if legislation were enacted immediately on the back of public sentiment, we would have had capital punishment after the murder of Lee Rigby. Roger holds the abilities of MPs and of Parliament in high regard. What I think he's missed is that we no longer trust our MPs, for instance, not themselves to use say the murder of Jo Cox to introduce repressive and Totalitarian measures. MPs are sadly not so well informed or so altruistically disposed as Roger would have them - and we ordinary people not so radical nor so ill-informed that MPs are required to act on our behalf.

So Roger's 10 minute Sunday broadcast ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07flhwb ) against petitions is a diatribe (if one can call such gentle disapprobation) against direct democracy and in favour of representative democracy. People are not capable of making wise choices when given simple binary choices; things are more nuanced, more complex and only our informed and deliberative Parliamentary system is capable of dealing with such matters, including the Referendum, says Roger.

He's wrong, of course. And it pains me to say so. He once valued Burke, and I would direct him back to Burke's little platoons; the smaller the realm of decisions to be taken, the higher the quality of those decisions. The more local the associations, authorities and interests with which we interact, the better the knowledge and the choices. MPs are now a part of a global cabal, a political class that views the world internationally, alongside global corporatism and global finance. They are not therefore well placed to make decisions in the interests of our shires, our towns and metropolii.

And that was demonstrated last night in the BBC debate with a participative audience of 6,000 ordinary people to whom Roger would deny the vote. They were no less well-informed than the experts on the podia, and far better represented the interests of the British people.

Leave or Remain, whatever comes out of tomorrow, I'd always, always trust my future to the votes of all enfranchised Britons whatever their station in life than to a political class no longer wholly trusted or wanted by those voters.
The second was the morning of the result. It was a glorious June alpine day, and even at 6am the sun was blazing and I had the big wooden double windows at the front of the house thrown open. I wrote this as I watched the valley below start its day, unaware of the earthquake, and with the scent of new cut hay from the meadows perfuming my coffee and the joyous sound of birdsong as a backing chorus mocking the shellshocked BBC broadcasters.
24th June 2016
I'll be posting later when my wits and thoughts are collected - at the moment I'm still reeling. I stayed up for the Newcastle / Sunderland results - and when it became clear the picture had changed, snatched a doze and stayed with it. Now I can only say the feeling of lightness as an ugly and enervating succubus has been taken from our backs is wonderful, but with it now comes a duty of responsibility. We must re-weld our people - all our people - back into one nation. We must do it without hate or rancour, and those brave enough to vote Leave are well placed to show their privileged 'Remain' brethren who have either suckled at the dugs of the beast or been its dags how it's done.

I remember the memorial service of Ralph Harris, Lord Harris, at the church in Smith Square just over the way from the EU Kommandantur. God, he would have loved this day. He wrote:

Liberty carries with it individual responsibilities. Responsibility for yourself, and hopefully your family and as far as possible your neighbours. But it does throw responsibility onto our own shoulders. Well, that's what living means; it doesn't mean shrugging off responsibility and taking soft options.

I have confidence in my land and my people and that things have not quite yet gone so far that we cannot rescue the greater part. God bless you all.

8 comments:

r_writes esq. said...

Big fan of Roger Scruton, even though I have not followed his work that closely, his death has spurred me on to learn, I am currently reading, England: An Elegy.

So forgive me if I do not recall these pieces.

I think that from what I have read that he values the institution, its history and future progress, as do conservatives everywhere. There is however a difference between progressivism and dynamism. The effect of direct democracy is extreme representativism of the electorate's wishes. Burke's argument regarding the difference between representation and delegation would no longer apply.

However, by taking a much larger poll, up to 100% turnout in Switzerland where they do this or it can be as low as 12%, depending on what the generally held view of a proposition is and how that might affect the people.

The concept of direct democracy adds further protections to the overall concept of a conservative community.

Taken as a concept complete with my idea that you don't mess with the commons, and that that institution becomes the scrutinising chamber, as in the recent referendum, there will be a major campaign before a big decision, and then a major campaign by MP's around any agreed implementation.

The purpose of direct democracy in my view is manyfold, and even a cursory look at how it is done in Switzerland, demonstrates that if you allow people to grow up, they will. The Swiss, understand that voting is healthy and not a chore, they also understand that losing, something which most of our commons pre December were not capable of accepting and had the ability to irresponsibly hold out, is a healthy state in a democratic nation. You never know, you might be able to organise a petition and win.

If you try to preserve something in aspic, rather than take a healthy regard for all that is novel, until it proves itself one way or the other, it will whither on the vine. And that is precisely what is happening to this nation, it is full of people who want to actually destroy 2000 years of nation building in order to build a "new global order" for them to tear up.

DeeDee99 said...

"Leave or Remain, whatever comes out of tomorrow, I'd always, always trust my future to the votes of all enfranchised Britons whatever their station in life than to a political class no longer wholly trusted or wanted by those voters."

And the events of the past three years demonstrated beyond any doubt that we were right not to trust them - and we do no longer want them.

The worst offenders have been ejected from OUR Parliament. But sadly, the House of Frauds is untouched, and untouchable. And Boris is reinforcing it with more failed/rejected MPs we don't trust and do not want.

There is a lot of unfinished business.

DiscoveredJoys said...

There's an argument that 'free markets' lead to a more stable economy than planned economies. Yes, there are inefficiencies and weird bubbles but there are no half day bread queues or mountains of umbrellas in July or 24 month waiting lists for cars or telephones. Basically 'the economy' is too big and complex to plan.

You can make an analogous argument that perhaps a intentional democracy has become too big and complex to plan. No one can grasp the totality of all the influences bearing on an issue (for instance whether it is better to Leave or Remain!), so perhaps referenda are one way of resolving the issue.

I wonder if Scruton was pining after the order and simplicity of an earlier age, without fully realising the impact of scale on social organisation. I'm an old git, and in my lifetime the global population has grown 3 times, from around 2.5 billion to 7.5 billion(ish). That must have an impact on everything.

Dave_G said...


Brexit has killed off referendums for the future. Voting has only ever (in recent times) been allowed because they either know the outcome or can control the result regardless of how it goes.

But maybe breaking up the country is the only way to devolve power down to smaller regions since if Scotland left I see no reason why Cornwall couldn't - ad infinitum - until we were all regionally and locally independent of a government that could then only make decisions collectively for the whole on issues such as defense.

So perhaps reticence over the Scottish issue is misplaced? if the greater outcome was to be seen instead....

Span Ows said...

Great comments so far. I was so elated on 24th June, suspicious when Cameron immediately resigned and apopleptic after the Conservative leadership election. Literally form day 1 TPTP started the wheels in motion to change that referendum result. Since then, as we have seen, many many sinsiter worms have come out of the woodwork and despite many claims of exaggeration the word traitor IMHO is not being misused in many case. Most of the aptly named 'REMOANERS' are STILL at it!

This Friday will be interesting and a memeorable ocassion but the war is not yet won.

JPM said...

Aye, it's yet more of that cosy thing called The Past isn't it?

Well, you and your party own this one hundred per cent now, Raedwald.

You have exactly for what you voted.

Let's see how it goes, shall we?

SG said...

Precisely what is it, that you think is ‘cosy’ about the past JPM?

Mark said...

No, the country "owns" this which is something you seem to have real difficulty understanding.