Sunday, 17 November 2019

Brexit, democracy and the perils of diversity

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'But even if the superior classes today – or indeed in the past – had shown themselves consistently capable of ruling in the interests of all rather than in their own, this would be a complete misunderstanding of democracy. Democracy is not a system for discovering the “right answer” to political issues: we can rarely if ever 
be sure what the right answer is. Democracy, rather, is a system for creating consent and solidarity by allowing all to have an equal vote. For making people feel that the way they are governed, though not perfect, is at least one in which they are fairly consulted and their voices listened to. So that, even if they do not get their own way, they accept the outcome without trying to sabotage or evade it.
'That is what we have come perilously close to losing. Next month we have the chance to regain it, with all the opportunities and risks that democracy entails.'
Dr Robert Tombs, in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday


'Before I went into politics I spent a lot of time as a human rights lawyer and did international work across the globe. In many countries, as you can imagine, where there is quite a challenging human rights environment, there either wasn’t a vote at all – or if there was a vote it was ignored. That was really, really corrosive to democracy and I think it’s absolutely right that if we do have a referendum we abide by the result.'
Sir Keir Starmer, speaking to UCL students in February 2018 - this year he has persuaded Labour to make a second referendum party policy.


'Towards the end of her time in office in 1990, Margaret Thatcher became increasingly fed up with the European drive for integration. She started to say in public that there should be a referendum on the main issue then current – membership of what later became the

euro. She called for a referendum because she saw that existing party arrangements were not offering voters a choice. Roughly half the electorate were clearly Eurosceptic; over 95 per cent of the party leaderships were Europhile.
'Her idea of a referendum never went away. Sir James Goldsmith and his Referendum

Party took it up. They did not score terribly well in votes, but they frightened the main parties into promising a referendum. The parties tried to avoid one, of course, but the pressure of opinion, particularly Conservative opinion, grew. In 2016, David Cameron – mistakenly, from his own point of view – succumbed. We voted to leave.'
Charles Moore on Friday in the Daily Telegraph.

‘Labour lied to people about the extent of immigration … and there’s been a massive rupture of trust.....

'What you have with immigration is the idea that people should travel all over the world in search of higher-paying jobs, often to undercut existing workforces, and somehow in the Labour Party we got into a position that that was a good thing. 
'Now obviously it undermines solidarity, it undermines relationships, and in the scale that it’s been going on in England, it can undermine the possibility of politics entirely’
Lord Glasman, Labour peer and adviser to Ed Miliband who enobled him, in Prospect in 2011.


'The subject of mass immigration probably brings out liberal-left identity and its ideology of diversity in the clearest form. It is unthinkable that the system of diversity could have arisen and developed to anywhere near the degree it has without mass immigration. This defining phenomenon of our times has not just brought in large numbers of people who
can be funnelled into the race-based identity groups within the system. It has also offered possibilities to various different groups in British government and political circles, which have gathered around immigration and immigrants as a cause; for them, mass immigration has offered a role and an ongoing project to oversee and enforce.'
Ben Cobley, journalist and former Labour Party activist, The Tribe: The Liberal-Left and the System of Diversity (2018)

‘No press conference after a sex-grooming trial has been complete without a police officer’s pronouncement that the perpetrators’ ethnicity and religion was utterly irrelevant to their crimes.’
Times journalist Andrew Norfolk, quoted by Ben Cobley in The Tribe: The Liberal-Left and the System of Diversity (2018)


'The divides that had driven politics hitherto, especially class and wealth, became less salient after the 1960s. Other, more “lifestyle” issues took their place. At first these were construed in terms of the individual, but eventually they came to be framed in terms of groups: first Jews, then African-Americans, then women, then gays. It was not merely that these groups sought equal rights. The real change was that they defined themselves as oppressed. This was a seismic shift.
'Identity politics is deeply and inexorably divisive. If the withholding of recognition is a form of oppression, then one way of achieving recognition is to show that I have been oppressed. The logic is as follows: the group to which I belong is a victim; it has been wronged; therefore we are entitled to special treatment. This gives rise to an endlessly proliferating list of the aggrieved. Each of their claims is surely true, but you cannot build a free society on the basis of these truths, just as you cannot heal trauma by endlessly attending to your wounds. A culture of victimhood sets group against group, each claiming that its pain, injury, oppression, humiliation, is greater than that of others.'
Lord Sacks, former British Chief Rabbi, The Home We Build Together: Recreating Society (2007) - here is a very interesting extract.

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