Monday, 29 April 2013

Referendums are no solution

There are many around who seem to think that democracy means that if you have got the numbers you win. But, I suggest, that is the real naivete of the idealist. It begs all sorts of where and how do you have to "have the numbers".
It would be totally unworkable and indeed "ridiculous" to suggest that every piece of legislation should be voted on by everyone. If you are really old then you may remember a 70s movie "The Rise and rise of Michael Rimmer"...starring the inimitable Peter Cook (here)
Rimmer gets elected promising the ultimate in democracy ...."You (the voter) will vote on everything!"
It is not long before the people tire of this they don't want to govern, they want to be governed. The post boxes overflow as the plebiscite votes clog up the system, and worse than that people's lives are interrupted by the need to stop and vote on trivial matters like upping the price of sewerage tax and so on.
Finally they beg the 'democratic' Herr Rimmer to just ease their pain and decide on their behalf...and he becomes a bizarre and not so benevolent dictator....and they are glad they don't have to vote on the increase of postage. Of course, when the people beg the dictator to 'just govern'  he assume more and more responsibility.
And in the end he just does what he likes.
It is an interesting parable.
The Westminster system of democracy elects people to govern not to constantly refer stuff back to the electorate...which is its own tyranny.
In fact it is more than this. WE should be wary when there is talk of referendum
Politicians notoriously call for referenda when they lack capacity for leadership.
Now that sets all sorts of alarm bells going for me.
Because we require our leaders to lead! Not to play the Michael rimmer game, which ultimately ends in despotism.
What I want is not for Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard, or Tony Windsor and friends to let me decide....but to show some real leadership.
Let them show their hand.....and say what they truly feel.
There is a good article here about why such referenda are a bad idea.
They are NOT democracy in action. Quite the contrary; they are a failure of nerve.

No comments: