Brexit Politics UK

Enemies of the People?

Yvette Cooper has written a strong article in the HuffPo pointing out the dangers of the current atmosphere in the UK stemming from the ruling that the UK parliament must ass a law to execute Brexit, and that it’s not at the gift of the executive to go it alone. The judges have been called Enemies of the People, and the plaintiffs in the case have been vilified over it (I’m not linking to the Sun). All they did was win a ruling that stated that the Westminster Parliament is indeed sovereign in this matter. But hysteria has been whipped up about it being an attempt to ‘block the will of the people’ or at least the will of Rupert Murdoch.

Yvette rightly calls out the dangers of such fuss:

The reason some Government Ministers are complaining so loudly about a vote on Article 50 is not because they fear they would lose it but because they want to keep Parliament out of the picture altogether. They want to hide the fact they don’t know what they are doing. And they want to make complex decisions behind closed doors keeping power in the hands of a small group with no scope for debate, scrutiny or amendment. That’s not democratic or sustainable.

The reason that some Ukippers are making such a fuss is worse. They want to sustain a sense of grievance. That’s how they get support. For years they have demonised the EU for supposedly frustrating the will of the British people. Now we are leaving the EU, they need a new enemy. So they are targeting Judges and Parliament instead.

Far from trying to strengthen British democracy as we leave the EU, they are trying to undermine it. So the two most important democratic institutions we have – democratically elected lawmakers and the independent judges charged with upholding the rule of law – are caricatured as “enemies of the people”. Instead of treating democracy as the peaceful way to express and implement the popular will, the far right are starting to treat democracy as the subversion of it.

And here’s where the real danger lies. People are being encouraged to think that the popular will can only be executed through the unfettered power of the executive. Or that if they don’t like any decision made by judges or MPs then they can denounce them as enemies. Or that it is OK to target someone like Gina Miller, because they disagree with her, with appalling racist and violent threats.

Dangerous waters.