Patience Wheatcroft's shabby case against democracy

Baroness Wheatcroft, who wants to trash the results of the June 23 referendum, should just come out and say it: she has joined the neo-authoritarian camp, like so many of her colleagues in Remain

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Baroness Wheatcroft
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The Commentator
On 5 August 2016 08:41

Patience, but not tolerance, let alone democracy. That is the message from journalist and peer of the realm Patience Wheatcroft in an op-ed for the Guardian today using every trick in the anti-democratic book to try and turn a shabby and specious case for disrespecting the will of the British people in the June 23 referendum into something more respectable than it sounds.

Our heroine begins by telling us that, upon going public about her calls to ignore the referendum, her inbox filled up, "with angry rants against such an attempt to thwart the will of the people." But then, "more reasoned messages of support have been landing, reflecting the despair felt by many in this country, and not just in the metropolis."

Alexander Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus, probably felt the same way after ignoring the result of his country's 2010 presidential election: those angry rants by protestors calling for the election to be respected, followed by toadies reassuring him that a leap in the democratic dark was something he was right to resist.

Fortunately, Baroness Wheatcroft doesn't have the KGB at her disposal; she just has her piercing intellect. And what a weapon that is!

"We don’t have a clue what Brexit means and it is surely not unreasonable to suggest that, once we do, the electorate should have a chance to decide whether it really favours that over membership of the EU."

Well, we do in fact know what Brexit means; it means leaving the European Union. And actually Patience, yes it is  "unreasonable" -- ie it defies reason -- to suggest that people should be given a "chance" to make a decision on whether they "really" favour leaving or remaining in the EU when they have only just delivered their verdict.

There is much more of this sort of garbage until we get to her finale:

"It is not the role of an unelected House of Lords to thwart the will of the people, but it is our job to ask the government to think again should we believe it is making a mistake. The Commons may be cowed by the narrow majority of the referendum but, on this vital matter, I believe the Lords should urge caution.

"I hope that there would be a majority prepared to stall the bill through the one session of parliament that is possible before the Parliament Act can be invoked. This would be a break with the convention that the House of Lords does not stand in the way of a manifesto commitment. But when it was a manifesto commitment to plunge into the unknown, I for one am prepared to go against convention."

Even in its own terms this doesn't make any sense: it isn't the role of the Lords to thwart the will of the people... but the Lords should favour stalling the clear preference on this matter registered by a referendum of the people

So, she does in fact think it is the role of the Lords to thwart the will of the people even as she says it isn't. 

The worst part of the whole argument -- or extended piece of prejudice -- is the last, which bears repeating:

"[It] would be a break with the convention that the House of Lords does not stand in the way of a manifesto commitment. But when it was a manifesto commitment to plunge into the unknown, I for one am prepared to go against convention."

How heroic. Except that, since no-one has a crystal ball, all manifesto commitments count as a plunge into the unknown, as, indeed, do all general elections in which one political party replaces another with a majority in parliament.

Wheatcroft should just come out and say it: she has joined the neo-authoritarian camp, like so many of her colleagues in Remain.

That would not in itself be admirable, but, unlike her article for the Guardian, it would at least make sense.

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