My team didn’t win, therefore democracy is broken – Part 2

This post is the second in a series on academics who think that because they are not getting their way, this indicates that there is a problem with democracy that needs to be fixed. There’s no climate in this one, but the mindset is much the same as that of Al Gore and Mark Maslin discussed in part 1.

AC Grayling

The second example is from Britain’s ‘foremost’ philosopher remoaner, AC Grayling, writing on Democracy and its crisis in the New European. It’s basically the same argument – Brexit won, Trump won, I don’t like either, therefore democracy is in crisis.

Apparently the article is part of Grayling’s “brilliant new book”, and it explains how “we stand on the precipice of losing democracy in Britain”. It’s worth reading, to see the shallowness of his argument. He starts by talking of the origin of democracy and how it means “rule by the people” – doesn’t everyone know that? There’s a bit about Plato’s criticism of democracy. Then there’s the Churchill quote about a few minutes talking to the average voter – doesn’t everyone know that, too? The other well-known quote about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried does not get a mention.

Grayling claims that democracy is more likely than oligarchy to lead to tyranny, “because monarchs and oligarchs would see that their tenure of power relies at least in part on the implicit acceptance of their rule by the populace, which cannot be secured by the exercise of coercive power alone.” I wonder what the starving citizens of North Korea would make of that.

After a brief mention of Cromwell, Grayling leaps to the present day and MTDWTDIB:

“The election of Donald Trump in the US, and the ‘Brexit’ referendum and what followed it in the UK, most acutely illustrate what happens when there is a failure to cleave to the underlying principles of representative democracy.”

Rather than attempting to support this claim in any way, Grayling then switches to another very well-known point – that many countries with “democratic” in their names are/were anything but.

There’s an excellent response to Grayling by Giles Fraser, The wrong sort of voter? There’s no such thing, AC Grayling. Fraser’s main target is the sneering elitism of the expert, but he also raises MTDWTDIB:

AC Grayling believes there is a crisis in democracy because the majority of those who voted on 23 June 2016 disagreed with him about the UK being a part of the European Union. It really does take some pretty monumental ego to think that not being agreed with constitutes a crisis for the whole of democracy.

Grayling has to have the last word, in a letter to the Guardian. In one sentence he simultaneously accuses Fraser of ad hom, and of being a dimwit: “Fraser’s failure to see this is the result of his having ad hominem intentions, a sure-fire way to be dimwitted in important debates”. The letter is as vacuous as the original piece, merely saying that “We have a right to good government”. A “good” government is presumably one whose policies match with the opinions of AC Grayling.

If anyone cares, there’s another excerpt from Grayling’s brilliant book at the LSE blog. Unfortunately for ACG, that blog allows comments, and the plebs have shown that the emperor has no clothes. That second article is also thoroughly debunked by Chris Hanretty.


  1. Your little trivia byte for today: what are the four estates? Well, originally there were three estates: the first estate was the clergy, the second estate the nobility, and the third estate the commoners. The fourth estate is the press, and was coined in 1837, reflecting their increasing prominence and power.

    Today the nobility takes the form of House of Lords, or in the US the Senate while the commoners are represented in Parliament or House of Representatives. Those institutions are dysfunctional all right, but may not be the biggest threat to democracy. IMO that is coming from the media, whose power is presently running amok.

    Case in point: Recent poll shows 55% of Americans believe climate change makes hurricanes worse, compared to 39% after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. That increase is due to mainstream media harping on human activity causing extreme weather.

    Despite all of the levelheaded statements by hurricane experts cautioning against jumping to these conclusions, and despite the IPCC SREX reports saying the linkage is not proven, the media and activists went on a rant proclaiming climate change makes hurricanes worse. They trumpeted these claims, and now take pride in a survey showing they succeeded in duping the public. That is a duping scandal and the mass media is at fault. Shame on them.

    The main threat to democracy is a misinformed public manipulated by the media.

    Footnote: There is a fifth estate, defined thusly:

    The Fifth Estate is a socio-cultural reference to groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society, and is most associated with bloggers, journalists publishing in non-mainstream media outlets, and the social media or “social license” .


  2. I actually thought that much of Grayling’s article was quite good as material for a textbook for GCSE Civics. We all need reminding that the 1647 Putney debates and the American Founding Fathers are important parts of our history, more so perhaps than the randy activities of RADA-trained TV Tudors in tights.

    I did rather baulk at this from his first paragraph:

    ”It took much time, ingenuity and careful thought to devise institutions and practices which would make the democratic expression of preferences translatable into government that worked.

    As the blog’s resident lefty I should point out that it also took a lot of struggle and bloodshed. But my real objection (and here I’d guess we clisceppers of all political persuasions are pretty united) is to this:

    “What emerged in practical terms from these considerations was the realisation that democracy, in whatever form, is only part of what would make for sound government … democracy is necessary, but not by itself sufficient. More is needed: … constitutional checks and balances … an informed and reflective electorate, and a responsible media as a vehicle for distributing that information and providing a platform for debate and analysis.

The briefest of surveys shows by how much the major democracies fell short in respect of both the necessities and the desiderata – and the years 2016–17 demonstrate how that underachievement led to a breakdown of the compromise offered as a solution to the dilemma of democracy.”

    In Grayling’s world, all was well from 1647 to 2016, when suddenly he found himself on the losing side. And the philosopher able to view dispassionately 2500 years of human history suddenly finds himself pissed off because the deplorables have won.

    He and I (who no doubt share the same broad left views) have accepted countless electoral and other defeats in our lifetimes. Unlike Grayling, I’m directly affected by the Brexit vote. It’s a bloody nuisance because I live in France and my children are going to find themselves suddenly classified as descendants of an enemy alien. This matters in France, where you can be imprisoned for taking a bus from one city to another without a passport. But the majority spoke, and though I might disagree with many of their reasons, I don’t dispute their victory.

    And this brings us to climate change. No-one on the climate change believer side disputes the right of Theresa May’s government to govern, and to execute a programme with which they may disagree. Yet Lord Lawson must be banned from the airwaves; the opposing point of view must not be heard. There are limits to the democratic debate, and they are being defined by the left, starting naturally, with the intellectual vanguard, like AC Grayling.


  3. Chris Hanretty’s article, debunking Grayling’s second article, is worth reading.
    View at
    It looks at the simple majorities in Referendums against others in the UK and in Europe. They are mostly the same. The article also discusses claims that the result was non-binding (it was binding) and whether EU citizens resident in the UK should have a vote. An amendment to allow them to do so was voted down by 494-64.

    I have encountered Professor Hanretty before and already think well of his analysis of the EU referendum result. This concluding statement raises my estimation of him.

    Why fisk Grayling?
    I’ve now spent three times as many words fisking Grayling as Grayling spent in his extract.
    I think it’s important to do this to show how his arguments are based on gross errors and misrepresentations; because I think academics (including Grayling) ought to be held to high standards regarding accuracy; and because I don’t want people who supported Remain to be tarnished by association with bad losers like Grayling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At least people are still willing to attack putrid ideas. The author is amazingly shallow. Is he considered an intellectual?
    …I’m not bothering to Google him….


  5. Jaime. What are you objecting to?
    “48% voted #Remain”. Tick
    “This is not a minority one can ignore”. Tick.
    “In politics, all significant opinions shld be taken on board” Somewhat debatable, especially if opinions are so opposed. But given that large minorities probably should not be ignored, some attempt at compromise should have been attempted. To my mind the problem has not been that leavers won, but that that their success gave the leave side a mandate to push their views beyond the approval they actually obtained. Any attempt by remainers (not remoaners) for moderation has been met by “shut up, you lost”.
    The majority can be the greatest enemy of democracy.


  6. Alan.
    Democracy: the people vote on a single issue. Should we leave Europe or remain? 4% more voted to Leave. The significant minority lost. The rather more significant majority won. We can’t stay half in and half out. We either leave or we don’t. It really is that simple. Remoaners will never be happy that they were on the losing side of a single issue democratic vote. They think, like at a general election, they ought to have some ‘representation’ in this democratic process by gaining a few MPs in Parliament. Tell me how you can represent the views of people who don’t want to leave the EU by enacting the wishes of those people who do want to leave the EU and who won the referendum and I will show you my collection of Unicorns.


  7. Jaime. My complaint is that there has been no attempt to find any middle ground. The decision was to leave, not how we should leave, where there might have been some room for manoeuvre or compromise. The constant refrain is “you lost, you have no say, preserve the hegemony of the 52%”.

    There is no need to keep insulting the 48% (including myself) as “remoaners”. Why do you, a person of considerable class, stoop so low?


  8. Democracy fails when it becomes mobocracy. That is hardly the case in either the US or the UK.
    The “academic” who us tge subject if this essay offers an argument which fails to establish that position at all. Instead it reveals much abiut the author.


  9. Alan, remainers have been constantly insulting leavers, even before the vote on June 23rd. When they lost the vote, the insults merely got worse and more shrill and far more derogatory than the humorous amalgamation of two words to form one as a convenient means to express the motivation and behaviour of those who lost the vote. There is zero parity here. Don’t even begin to tell me that, if the situation had been reversed and 52% voted to remain, we would now still be debating how to accommodate the wishes of the significant losing minority. In the unlikely event that a large number of losing leavers kept moaning incessantly about how there was no attempt to incorporate their desire to leave in the particular way in which we we were staying, or even brazen attempts to reverse the result of the referendum, they would have been laughed at/ignored/told to go forth and multiply in no uncertain terms. Yet here you are insisting that, somehow, your vote to remain should be honoured in the particular manner in which we choose to leave. I can only interpret this as you and other remainers insisting that we don’t actually leave, because, as I said, we either leave or we don’t – there’s no half-way house that would honour the question put to the voters on June 23rd.


  10. Jaime
    1. regarding insults, two wrongs don’t make a right. I tell you I feel somewhat insulted, yet you repeat you derogatory epithet.
    2.if remainers had won, I would be arguing for accommodation – perhaps arguing for greater distancing from the excesses of the EU and greater resistance to the drive toward greater integration. I know that the few remainer friends I still speak with, like me, have moved in this direction. I see little sign of any movement by leave supporters. The overall mood has become more anti-EU, but the polarization remains as wide as ever.
    3. I am insisting upon nothing. I am regretting a) the continued and perhaps widening polarization (with no attempt at any appeasement), b) the arrogance of the 52% and c) the continued use of inflammatory language everywhere, including this site. We are better than this.


  11. Really Alan, look at Brussels, look at the EU, look at the behaviour of the people who purport to lead the EU and tell me that any attempt to moderate their federal ambitions or accommodate the views of the British Eurosceptic public would be anything but doomed to fail if we remained as full members.

    You say, regarding insults, two wrongs don’t make a right. I say, a humorous made-up word which accurately describes the behaviour and motivation of many people who voted remain, which you have chosen to take offence at, is a very minor ‘wrong’ in comparison to the by no means comprehensive ‘hateful, spiteful, neo-Nazi, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, backward-looking, ignorant, idiotic, thuggish, lower working class, white imperialist Little Englander leavers’.

    You say you regret the arrogance and continued use of ‘inflammatory language’ by the 52% who just want this government to implement the result of the referendum and for remainers to stop whinging about the fact that they lost the referendum whilst they continuously looking for ways to undo the result of that referendum. You seem to imply that Leavers bear some responsibility for polarizing the situation simply because they want the government to commit to the democratic process and get us out of the EU, simply because they have little time to listen to the vocal and abusive X% of the 48% who want us to remain tied to the EU, even now. That’s a curious position to take.


  12. Firstly Jaime I am dealing with what is happening in the UK. What the EU does is immaterial to how we behave towards each other.
    Interesting that you consider your epithet to be inoffensive, even when informed that it causes offense. Rather than accepting any blame you blame the offendee. That to me is somewhat arrogant.
    I see in your responses that all blame is attached to the remainers, none to the leavers, but then this exactly mimics what I am complaining about. You have a population that, on the basis of EU actions and attitudes, is moving towards your position but which you are driving away by insults and a total inability to be reasonable with. Your attitude of “we won, so suck it up” will not end up in a happy place.


  13. Ron Clutz, You are right about the media. In the US, the last year has seen the descent of the media into partisanship in ways not seen since the 19th Century. The shallowness and lack of skepticism is amazing with standards having descended into the gutter. Stories based on a single questionable source are now pushed out immediately. In the 1970’s, months of careful investigation to determine the “truth” proceeded publication. When CNN summarily fired 2 reporters including a Pulitzer prize winner for an article smearing Anthony Scaramuchi, it was stark evidence journalistic standards had become nonexistent. Of course, the threat of legal action was needed to spark this isolated moment of responsibility.


  14. Alan, It’s not just the media that has become hyper-partisan and corrupt. The language in the media has become increasingly nasty and insulting. One can argue whether that reflects our increasingly divided culture or vice versa. I personally think that people have always talked that way in private, but institutions like the media used to moderate it and provide a more civil objective vocabulary. I personally blame a lot of it on the media.

    I also believe that a lot of this is due to the fact (I believe its a fact) that institutions and our elites have not been as disconnected from common people since the Gilded Age. This leads to anger and disfunction and a dominance of the loudest and most uncivil voices. My personal view however is that the left is the source of the worst of this tendency.


  15. I think you’re pushing this ‘insult’ thing a bit hard Alan and testing me and I’m not going to waste any more time on it and risk bad feeling between us, other than to say this:

    Firstly, simply because you take offence at an epithet which I have used, as indeed many others have used, including Paul, the author of this blog post, does not in itself make it an insult. It is, in essence, a humorous but irreverent conjunction of two words – ‘remainer’ and ‘moaner’ – used to describe remainers in general who have grumbled constantly since they lost the referendum vote.

    At no point did I use this epithet to describe you personally; you simply took offence at my use of the word and proceeded to imply that I was being deliberately provocative and insulting and stooping to a low level. You have a right to be offended by this word. I have a right to continue using it to describe a particularly vocal subset of remainers who, contrary to your assertions, will never, “on the basis of EU actions and attitudes”, move towards the position of Brexit voters and thus will not be ‘driven away’ from supporting Brexit voters simply because Brexiters have labelled them remoaners. They are die-hard Europhiles and many actively despise the UK and its history outside of the EU. A C Grayling is one of them.


  16. Jaime, “Tell me how you can represent the views of people who don’t want to leave the EU by enacting the wishes of those people who do want to leave the EU and who won the referendum and I will show you my collection of Unicorns.”

    Leaving the EU means repealing the legislation that took us in. Nothing more. The mandate from the referendum takes you no further. The relationship thereafter is up for negotiation and is undefined and unaffected by the vote, short of rejoining. So we could very well negotiate membership of the single market and free movement.


  17. “The other well-known quote about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried does not get a mention.”



  18. Len, leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market and ending freedom of movement. People who voted to leave were well aware of this. If we’re still in the Single Market and still accepting free movement of goods and services – and presumably still in the Customs Union – then we are not free to negotiate free trade globally and we are effectively still members. This is not what Brexiters voted for.


  19. Alan, since I used the word remoaner perhaps I should explain what I meant by it. Certainly not the 48%. Only the tiny minority of them who are constantly moaning about it, like AC Wailing and that pompous lawyer twit Jolyon something.


  20. A question worth asking those whonlist is along the lines of
    “If you had win by 4% would you have modified the UK remaining in any way since such a large minority was voting to leave?”
    The behavior of f the remainers suggests the answer would be a firm “no”.


  21. Len,
    Your assertion abiut simply repealing some legislation makes no sense.
    In context it seems whatvyouvare after is for the renainers to have itvtheircway despite losing.
    That attitude is what does put democracy at risk.
    “A” for effort in blaming Murdoch.


  22. Alan Kendall @ 30 Sep 17 at 12:52 pm
    On the issue of Brexit I believe the middle ground should be avoided. It is not like haggling where opposing parties get something of what they want. A compromise could well be worse than either staying in (now excluded) or a clean break without any agreement. One reason is a purely political one. If the UK could be perceived to be in a better position outside of the EU than in it, retaining some of the perceived advantages (membership of the single market) whilst shedding some of the perceived disadvantages (undemocratic institutions, lack of control of immigration) then other countries could be encouraged to question membership.
    Worst of all, like with climate change policies, much of the EU is about the communication of perceptions, not actually creating some creating something net positive once taking into account possible harms as well as possible benefits of any policy. Like with climate change, the likely harms of Leaving are just scary stories. As evidence take a look at the Britain in Stronger Europe letter I received two months before the referendum. Where are the 3 million jobs being lost? I believe unemployment is now at its lowest since 1975. Neither do I see a massive shift away from Britain in terms of investment, like the financial institutions putting on hold investments in London.


  23. Manic. I’m even willing to entertain your thesis but if it is the correct procedure, then it needs to be carefully explained to the 48% (probably much lower now), minor concessions made and there should be a moratorium upon negative epithets. The UK needs to bind together in the face of what is downright open hostility from segments of the EU. Yet I see virtually no sign of any accommodation, rather the reverse.


  24. Hunter. You just can’t put 48% of the UK voting population into the same basket and make statements about what they all will do.


  25. Paul. There was no need to explain your use of the word “remoaner” to me – we were not in direct conversation. The problem with the way you intend to use the word is that the moment I express any deviation from the current Brexit dogma I automatically fall into your definition. I have a right to express myself without being called names (not that I am implying you intend to call me names). It’s akin to the use of the word “denier”.


  26. Alan @ 01 Oct 17 at 11:25 am
    I do believe that any construction of a coherent argument is useless. We live in a post-truth world where superficial opinions of the Twitterati are far more important than facts, reason or moral responsibility for the harms that policy causes. The UK will not bind itself together because there are too many people who will not compromise. They will instead show similar hostility to that expressed by the EU, including the chief negotiator Michel Barnier. From HuffPost UK a month ago.

    EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has ramped up the tension over Brexit talks after warning he is trying to “educate” the UK about the price of quitting the European Union.
    Barnier’s antagonistic tone underlines how the EU is wants to play hardball with the UK as much as a deterrent to other countries contemplating an exit.

    That is, the outcome needs to be perceived as making Britain worse off. Given the need to save face, this could end up making the EU worse off as well. That is why I believe that Britain should leave without any agreement for everybody’s sake, except for a few billion quid to honourably discharge outstanding commitments.
    In terms of what the public thinks, YouGov published a poll just after the General Election in June. The poll found

    44% are Hard Leavers – Voted Leave and want the Government should ensure Britain leaves the EU.
    26% are Re-Leavers – Voted Remain, but now the British people voted to Leave the Government has a duty to carry out their wishes and Leave the EU.
    21% are Hard Remainers – Do not support Britain leaving the EU and should ignore the result, or seek to overturn the result in a second referendum.
    9% Don’t know.

    Using the methodology of Cook et al 2013, there is a 77% consensus on leaving the EU. 🙂


  27. Manic. Oh so now I’m not a remoaner but instead a re-leaver. So is my dog!


  28. Jaime Originator of graphic has as much knowledge of Brexiteers as they have of land crabs. Probably only experience of crabs is of eating them. Thus clearly cannot distinguish a Cancer pagurus from a Gecarcinus lateralis, Nor is he a reliever. Still he wished well for those exercising their rights of free speech in that great bastian of landcrabbery – Manchester.


  29. I bow to your superior knowledge of marine crustaceans Alan. All I know is I saw a tiny one today on the saltmarsh and it was very cute.


  30. I can tell Brexit is still an emotional issue in the “United” Kingdom. It’s over though and Britons should probably move on, No?


  31. Jaime, you might like to think that a leave vote meant a vote against free movement and trade arrangements. Others might prefer the idea that it was a vote against the undemocratic nature of EU decision making, or against the stupidity of some aspects of the Union. I doubt many voted leave because they wanted less trade. And leaving the Union to control immigration, when half of immigrants were from outside the EU and eminently controllable seems dumb at best. But more than anything, the question was do you want to leave the EU, not any of the spin you want to put on it.

    The problem with people who claim that winning means they get their maximal way, is that they have as weak an understanding of democracy as, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who, having won power thought that this gave them the right to dictate every aspect of society (they should have been allowed to fail naturally, but that is another story). Democracy is much more complicated than winner takes all, a lesson the Brothers might be excused for missing, not having had the benefit of hundreds of years of precedent. You and other Brexit purists have no such excuse.


  32. Len, I suspect the reason Brexit won is the same reason Trump won in the US. There hasn’t been a bigger gulf between the Elites (academia, big media, government, and big businessmen) and working people since the late 19th Century. Just as then, people want reform and more responsiveness, and are sick and tired of being told by their betters that their views are not correct. Also, I think there is a cultural backlash against globalist thinking and multiculturalism which I view as a truly confused ideology. Teddy Roosevelt ended the Gilded age by emphasizing nationalism and reigning in the malefactors of great wealth and reforming the incredible corrupt Federal government. We are seeing the beginnings of that today. I saw an article about 6 months ago comparing Trump to Roosevelt. There are a lot of similarities, both in personality and in policy.


  33. “Remoaner” is someone who doesn’t accept that their side lost and tries to use non demoratic powers to have more of an influence over the future path than the rest of us (eg Tony Blair, Gina Miller and Bob Geldof) . If you don’t think the name fits Alan, don’t wear it, although I’m amused by your offence given your propensity for labelling others (eg Gwendolin) and even yourself Supertroll.

    “Don’t even begin to tell me that, if the situation had been reversed and 52% voted to remain, we would now still be debating how to accommodate the wishes of the significant losing minority. In the unlikely event that a large number of losing leavers kept moaning incessantly about how there was no attempt to incorporate their desire to leave in the particular way in which we we were staying”

    Jaime is spot on. Alan, had the result been the other way round do you think we would have left the EU and gone with the Norway option? That would have been the half way house that I’m assuming you now seek? Or are you suggesting that Cameron would have been more successful a second time he went to the EU? Every single warning about federalism that was pooh-poohed as scare mongering before the referendum, has been announced after the vote. Only the preamble has been changed. ‘On the welcome reaffirmation of the UK’s commitment to the EU, we think it is now time to further stengthen our bonds and…’ has morphed into ‘Now that the UK has decided to leave, those of who remain must puul together for greater unity and…” Thereafter follows stuff about an EU army, a joint taxation system and many other things nobody voted for. The EU is like a cable tie, it only ratchets tighter. Ever numbing extremities lull countries into submission.

    The likes of AC Grayling think that the public should be happy to elect some of their ‘betters’ to make decisions for them. We’ve moved on from that. We want to be able to rock the boat if enough of us get together and the AC Grayling types hate it. Much though I gnash my teeth at Labour’s improvement at the last election, I accept that they got their message across. Had they won, I might despair but I wouldn’t say that democracy had failed. MPs, yes. Democracy, no.

    DPY6629 – Brexit won’t be over for decades, sorry. “There hasn’t been a bigger gulf between the Elites (academia, big media, government, and big businessmen) and working people since the late 19th Century.” Yes, and no. I think the gulf is massive but narrower than the past. We’re all more sophisticated than society used to be. Significantly we’re all much more confident about saying what we think. Social media allows us the ability change things as never before.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. DPY, it was vice President Pence who compared Trump to Roosevelt, so hardly an independent voice. It is rather laughable to suggest that Trump and his equally morally challenged cronies might manage to separate themselves from their conflicts of interest long enough to address corruption in others. Where do you get such ideas?


  35. Tiny. A somewhat strange post from you.
    “… I’m amused by your offence given your propensity for labelling others (eg Gwendolin) and even yourself Supertroll.”
    I address GolfCharlie as Gwen (and Radical Rodent as Ravishing Rattie) as terms of mutual amusement and admiration”. GolfCharlie has posted on several occasions that the designation (which was not my invention) gives no offense. Ravishing Rattie calls me in turn “minty”. The only other labels I use are ATTL and Foamy (in retaliation and because of Sietz’s scientific work on aeriated water). You should also be aware of why I took up the nom-de-blog of Supertroll over at Bishop Hill, and that affects no one else. I see no connection with other people’s unnecessary use of the word “remoaner”. Why make the polarization within this country worse by calling people names?

    You might not have thought that Democracy had failed if Labour had won the last election but others definitely would have. I don’t believe discussions and tentative planning were ever even envisaged by the intelligence services, the military and the political opposition to overthrow a Tory government, yet they were for an elected Labour one.

    As I responded to Jaime, if the Remainers had narrowly won the Referendum, I would have been arguing here for some of the Leave concerns to be addressed. Apart from Len; who here has been putting the case for some consideration of the Remainer viewpoint. All we get is, “we won, we won, be quiet losers”. As far as I’m aware those still unhappy with the referendum vote have only resorted* to talk and marching, ie exercising their right to free speech. Winning the referendum did not give winners the right to shut down further debate or discussion.

    * Gina Miller of course also exercised her right to challenge the government on excluding Parliament from a major Brexit decision in the courts. The fact that she was successful indicates to me that she was right in proceeding as she did. Yet here you are branding her a remoaner and accusing her of being anti-democratic. Were the judges also therefore undemocratic when they gave their decisions? Shouldn’t Parliament have been involved?


  36. I think there is some revisionism when talking about Gina Miller’s legal objections. She
    was absolutely right, in hindsight, in clarifying the point of law issues. I don’t think that’s
    why she did it though and I think anyone who believes that is being naive.


  37. GC and RR may put up with your nick names but they’re already going by chosen ones of their own. If you were long term friends it’s not odd to make up jokey names but you haven’t met that criteria have you? Remoaner on the other hand isn’t directed at you at all. The only reason you take offense is because you choose.

    “I would have been arguing here for some of the Leave concerns to be addressed”
    Easy to say hard to prove. What issues could have been addressed when the EU calls the shots? People argued for 40+ years to stop the march of EU federalism and they were ignored. If Tony Blair had had his way we’d not be having this conversation because we’d be full members of the Euro and tied in forever barring a mass fracture of the whole of the EU. I’m fully aware that there are many things the UK governments blames on the EU that were nothing of the sort. Wanting to leave the EU was in part to remove that scape goat.

    I notice you don’t claim you’d have called for the Norway option as the halfway house.

    Gina Miller used her money and her connections to try and stop something 17+ million had voted for. That might be democracy as it’s run by the elite but we have a right to despise them for it.


  38. Jona. I don’t pretend to know the mind of Gina Miller, but I do know that she had the democratic right to challenge the Government in the courts. The government’s lawyers opposed her and they lost. Brexit was debated in Parliament and the Government won handily. All parts of our democratic system were exercised and functioned. It does not matter what you think her motives were, she was exercising her rights and in so doing was demonstrating the strengths of our political and judicial systems.
    Fortunately we live in a society whose strengths allow you to express your judgement of my naievity.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. TinyCO2: ‘People argued for 40+ years to stop the march of EU federalism and they were ignored.’

    Or called racists, xenophobes, Little Englanders…

    TinyCO2: ‘I’m fully aware that there are many things the UK governments blames on the EU that were nothing of the sort. Wanting to leave the EU was in part to remove that scape goat.’

    +2 votes. (One vote from me plus some gold-plating from Whitehall.)

    TinyCO2: ‘Brexit won’t be over for decades, sorry.’

    Another +2.

    JonA: ‘I think there is some revisionism when talking about Gina Miller’s legal objections. She was absolutely right, in hindsight, in clarifying the point of law issues. I don’t think that’s why she did it though and I think anyone who believes that is being naive.’

    Bang on. According to articles published when she first launched the legal challenge, she said she came up with the idea on the morning after the referendum when one of her children was in tears about the result and asked her to do something to stop Brexit happening. ‘Mummy, please stop nasty Brexit!’ But if the clueless Tories were about to break an unwritten law then, yes, her intervention was useful. (‘Mummy, please get someone to clarify our unwritten constitution!’)


  40. “Evidence: Donald Trump – President of the United States against any and all odds anyone except a few could ever have guessed”

    Except he didn’t win a majority of votes, which rather spoils your theory.


  41. Alan,
    Thank you Capt. Obvious.
    Would the good philosopher be talking about ways to reform the EU/UK relationship to accommodate the Brexit minority if they lost, it how democracy demamds thst the losing vote still gets their way?
    Would the denigration of Brexit supporters stop if the remainers had won?


  42. Len, Aside from content free snearing, you offered nothing as usual. The emphasis on nationalism is an obvious parallel between Trump and Roosevelt. A distrust of ethnic politics and hyphenated Americans is another. Trump ran on economic issues and immigration. Roosevelt was also someone who had a loose tongue and often made inflammatory statements. The press in those days was not so hopelessly biased as it is today however. If you believe the media on issues like Russian collusion, you are very gullible and partisan yourself.


  43. Paul, Grayling does a pretty poor imitation of Victor Hugo with his English translation of j’accuse. However it’s not all IMHO a “pathetic rant” because he, in places, make some good, or at least debatable, points.


  44. The new Grayling piece starts marvellously:

    I accuse the UK government and, with a few honourable exceptions, Members of Parliament from all sides, of failing our country and failing our democracy.[…] Accusations invite a reply in defence. I accuse the government and MPs of failing to provide that defence, and thereby failing to offer…(and so on for another 48 paragraphs)…”

    Hang on guv’nor. You accuse them, invite them to reply in defence, and in the same breath accuse them of not replying. And you call yourself a philosopher?


  45. Geoff, apparently he’s written to them all 3 times now and had no reply. He’s not used to being treated like the rest of us plebs.


  46. “I accuse the UK government and, with a few honourable exceptions, Members of Parliament from all sides, of failing our country and failing our democracy.”

    “I accordingly accuse both government and the majority of MPs of deceit and falsehood”

    “I accuse MPs of failing in their constitutional duty.”

    “I accuse Parliament of a gross dereliction”

    “I accuse you of deliberately shirking your responsibility”

    ” liar… xenophobic… pygmies… lunacy… damnation”

    And much more pathetic and repetitive ranting.

    Good points? I didn’t see any. The only point he made (again, repetitively) was the completely bogus one about 37% of the electorate. The 2015 Conservative majority government was elected by less than 25% of the electorate.

    See the good comment from Young Winston, who says he’s a remainer (but not a remoaner!)


  47. Paul. I’ve already used up my self-imposed monthly allocation of political argumentation so will resist temptation to identify “good points”. Perhaps you’re not looking hard enough or are perhaps displaying , shudder, bias. I happen to agree that our politicians have served us particularly poorly over the matter of leaving or staying in the EU.

    Glyn. I hang my head in shame.


  48. DPY, so I offered nothing? What do you expect to be offered in response to your asinine suggestion that Trump and his band of cronies might reduce corruption? That might be accepted ‘wisdom’ around here, but those standards don’t get you far.

    “A distrust of ethnic politics…”

    You are kidding! Trump is hot on ethnic politics. Maybe you think white supremacism is not ethnic.

    Whether Russian interference was big or small, I don’t know. But neither do you. Let’s see what Muller finds.


  49. “I happen to agree that our politicians have served us particularly poorly over the matter of leaving or staying in the EU” Alan

    On that we can all agree.

    There shouldn’t have been a referendum at all. Even the guy who headed up the Leave campaign didn’t want one right now. It was partly the one shot offer that caused a lot of people to vote to leave. Dave useless Cameron was a crap negotiator and went to the EU practically holding a sign saying ‘don’t worry guys they’ll never vote to leave’ and they all believed him. He asked for nowt and got less than that. He had no plan in case he lost. He, Osbourne and all the EU lovers had no decent arguments for a pro EU stance, only scare stories if we didn’t do as our betters told us. Our current crop of MPs, on both sides of the in/out line and political divide, are messing about like a bunch of toddlers arguing over crayons. They’re strangers to the concept of loyalty to THIS country first, their party and their preferences second. They should ALL be trying to get the best deal and work together to get it. They can’t even be bothered to pretend to think their country is Great, let alone expect it to thrive after a period of discomfort outside the EU. If I was in the EU team I wouldn’t offer the UK a decent deal simple because we don’t act like we deserve one. They’ll offer the least they think they can get away with. We’d be offered a better deal if we’d never been in the EU and were just approaching them for a basic trade deal. Never mind that we’re a great business and security partner already. A pox on all their houses.


  50. Len – “Except he didn’t win a majority of votes,”. He didn’t have to. Or is this another plea to change the rules when you don’t like the result they give?


  51. Osseo, i seem to remember the original quote said that the majority would rise up. That rather obviously requires a majority of people. You might have meant that a majority would rise up in the electoral college, but that would be wired. But this is cliscep, so wierd is normal.


  52. Len, The Donald won a majority of the votes that mattered. Killery might have won lots of votes from migrant workers in California and Oregon, who possibly should not have been eligible to vote, but they were immaterial since the electoral colleges of those states were pro Kill whether she got 50.000001 or 101% of the popular vote


  53. I must admit, I gave up trying to spot the good points, after the mindless repetition of the main bad points, over and over, thinking to myself, ‘Christ, doesn’t he just go on, and on, and on?’ Is this what you have to do now to achieve the status of ‘Britain’s foremost philosopher’? Grind out your poorly argued ‘points’, again, and again, and again, pretending to sound high brow, but actually being so low brow you end up looking like an evolutionarily challenged proto-Neanderthal that nobody ever heard of but suddenly we realise a few specimens managed to work their way into the Sapiens gene pool and pollute it with prehistoric stupidity. Other than that, Grayling’s piece was dandy.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Since no one here has the ability (or is brave enough) to identify “good” (or at least debatable) points, I will suggest two:
    1. The referendum bill was sold on a false premise, that it only be advisory. Yet the Tory Government (in particular) accepted the narrow result as binding.
    2. Commonly referenda of major importance, especially those which might cause harm (real or imagined) to the losing minority need to command significantly greater support than a simple majority. Commonly such changes demand a two-thirds majority. Were our politicians remiss in not demanding the same? [discuss].

    I agree Jaime the writing style is abysmal. Perhaps it was an attempt to be both oratory and educational, you know “tell’m, tell’m again, and tell’m that you told’m”. I read a translation of Zola’s J’accuse and it’s somewhat hard going, but perhaps it’s because it was written in the nineteenth century when that was the style.


  55. it was NOT sold as advisory.. It was sold as the public would make the decision and the government would honour it.. I even have a leaflet that says so.


  56. Barry Woods. Do you then dispute Grayling’s statement? –

    “…Briefing Paper 07212 of June 3, 2015, told MPs that the EU referendum was advisory only, non-binding on Parliament and government. That is why the then Minister for Europe, David Lidington, repeated this, indeed stressed it, viva voce in the House of Commons in the debate on the referendum Bill later that same month.”

    Grayling is alleging the referendum was mis-sold to Parliament which then passed the authorizing bill. It may well be that after the bill had been passed the public were then told the result would be binding.


  57. Barry Woods you have a magic prognosticator do you? – an ability to determine what would have happened if things had turned out differently? All you have in cases like this are your opinions. My OPINION is that if the remainers had won, is that brexiteers might well have been arguing that the referendum was only advisory and that the huge vote for leaving needs to be respected. But what do I know? What do you actually know?


  58. Paul. If the Bill made no mention of the Referendum being advisory and the Minister responsible said in Parliament that it was (easily checked in Hansard) can we allege that the Minister was lying to the House and misleading the country? Tut tut.


  59. It seems to me that whether the referendum result was advisory or binding is a
    distinction without a difference. Surely it’s ridiculous to think that so much time,
    effort and money would’ve been spent on, effectively, a straw poll?

    The scenario where the result would NOT have been implemented is the absurd


  60. Perhaps Lidington also had his fingers cross behind his back? has anyone checked?


  61. The wording of the Referendum indeed stated that it was ‘advisory on the government’. The government beforehand stated that they would implement the public’s decision, in or out, therefore the public rightfully expected that the ‘advice’ from the electorate would be honoured and respected. There was no mention at all of there being a need for a large majority, either way, in order for the referendum result to be implemented.


  62. Anyway, aren’t we past this stage of the wrangling? Miller successfully challenged the government’s assumed royal prerogative to trigger article 50; hence Parliament was given a vote on whether to trigger A50 and they voted overwhelmingly in favour of passing the legislation to trigger A50, so it’s now UK law, we’re leaving the EU in 2019, deal or no deal, fudge or no fudge. I sincerely hope Remainer May resigns and we end up with a PM who will get us out of the EU quickly and cleanly, so Britain can once again start building an economy free of the influence of Brussels, make its own laws and admit into the country the people it chooses.


  63. Jaime.
    “There was no mention at all of there being a need for a large majority, either way, in order for the referendum result to be implemented.”

    Indeed, but Grayling was arguing that politicians should have insisted that there should have been for an issue of this magnitude. In other settings issues of significantly lesser importance have required much larger majorities. As you say, no such requirement was required so this argument cannot be used to contest the result, but it could be used (as Grayling did) to chastise those responsible for organising the referendum.


  64. Alan,

    “Indeed, but Grayling was arguing that politicians should have insisted that there should have been for an issue of this magnitude.”

    You would think, would you not, that “the UK’s foremost philosopher” would have had the wisdom to challenge this aspect of the Referendum Bill long before it became an Act and certainly prior to the EU referendum taking place. He had over a decade in which to mobilise support for this important amendment. But perhaps arrogance overcame foresight and sensible precaution in that he, like many other Europhiles, never imagined for a moment they would lose the vote.


  65. Jaime. Probably true, but that does not change the argument. Surly it was for those responsible for conducting the referendum to get it right, not for a lefty academic who probably would have been ignored or vilified (as he seems to be today).


  66. Alan

    When we voted in 1975 to stay in the (then) EEC, that referendum also contained no provision for (say) a 2/3 majority to be required to keep us in (or take us out). When the EEC morphed into the EU we were given no say on the question at all, whether by a simple, or 2/3, majority.

    My personal view is that as we live in a Parliamentary, representative, democracy, I expect my Parliamentary representatives to do their job and earn their salaries, not pass the buck to the electorate via a referendum on an immensely complicated issue, to (try to) solve a problem in the Tory party.

    However, Parliament having initially failed in its responsibility, I now expect it to do what we voted for, and take us out of the EU. What was the point of a referendum if the politicians, having failed to take responsibility for the difficult decision, then decide to take it back again and ignore the result of the referendum because the plebs voted “the wrong way”?

    One major problem, it seems to me,with the much-discussed suggested compromise (e.g. staying in the Single Market) is that as an option, it simply isn’t available. The EU have already said as much (we can’t have our cake and eat it apparently; though the EU can have its, by insisting that although we are leaving, we have to keep paying them for a period after we have left).

    I have much sympathy with the idea that a compromise would be the ideal solution, given how narrow the decision was (52/48%), since the winner taking it all on such a divisive issue will inevitably cause problems; and I accept that this is a much bigger issue than the winner taking it all in an election, since we can reverse the result of an election every 5 years (or sooner if our Lords and masters decide to let us, as in this year’s election), whereas leaving or staying in the EU is likely to be a once-in-a-generation decision.

    Unfortunately, however, I think this is one of those issues where, however desirable a “middle way” solution might be, it just isn’t available. Some time shortly after the referendum result I watched an interview between Andrew Neil and Nick Clegg. Clegg was arguing strongly for some such compromise, involving staying in the Single Market if possible. He went on to say that this might mean accepting freedom of movement; accepting the jurisdiction of the ECJ; continuing payments to the EU; acceptance of continuing obligations under ongoing EU legislation etc. Andrew Neil then pointed out that what this added up to was continued membership of the EU. And therein lies the rub. Sadly, I repeat, I think this is one issue where there is no meaningful middle ground. We stay or we leave. A large minority of those who voted is going to be unhappy. But better that than the small majority being unhappy. It’s called democracy, however imperfect it might be.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. “it was NOT sold as advisory.. It was sold as the public would make the decision and the government would honour it.. I even have a leaflet that says so.”

    Agree 100% Barry, Cameron also categorically stated as much.

    Then Gina Miller attempted to get a legal ruling that authorisation by Parliament was required for the invocation of Article 50, and the HoC ratified the invocation of Article 50 by a majority of six to one.

    So in fact Gina Miller ended up doing us Brexiteers a favour by ensuring we had a solid ruling from the Supreme Court.


  68. Looks like Grayling may have competition for being our “foremost living philosopher”


  69. Len, I repeat, you have nothing but personal biases and the lies you absorb from the media. White nationalism is a very small movement in the US. Black nationalism (and Black Lives Matter) is far bigger and has more institutional support. I challenge you to provide something other than fact free opinion. As the Teddy and Donald, this makes some good points and has detailed research behind it. On many big issues, there is a lot of agreement.


  70. DPY, you think Trump is against ethnic politics despite his campaign having been so strikingly anti-immigrant, pro-white. And you accuse me of fact free opinion. Shameless – but I guess Trump supporters need to be.


  71. “And you accuse me of fact free opinion”
    Martinez you unashamed little clown-dancing troll, you wouldn’t recognise a fact if is scampered under your noisome, foetid bridge, jumped up, and bit you on your warty scaly green snout.


  72. It is clear that you, weasel, have in spades the mental aptitude to be a Trump supporter. DPY too. I’m wondering what percentage of cliscep commenters meet that dubious standard too.


  73. “It is clear that you, weasel, have in spades the mental aptitude to be a Trump supporter.”

    Indeed, and proud to be so.

    That you consider accusations of support for President Trump to be somehow insulting says far, far about your delusional view of the world than it does about that of any Deplorable.

    Whereas you, thick as two short planks and beset by a totally misplaced belief in your own superiority despite a very obvious inferiority complex, are clearly the type of loser to support the egregious loser Clinton.

    If we could remove that chip from your shoulder and convert it to wood pellets, it would run Drax power station for a fortnight.


  74. Kudos to you, weasel, for having the honesty to admit to your own intellectual and moral failings. Apart from DPY, I don’t suppose there are any others here who will be so forthright.


  75. Never mind Len, every time you elicit an intemperate response from that devilish fellow Catweazel you can console yourself that you are doing something worthwhile. His umbrage levels are far too high and your interventions are extremely efficient at reducing them. Trouble is he may be running out of expletives.


  76. Mark Hodgson
    Thank you for your considered and temporate reply, with which I largely agree. You might recall, however, that my place in this thread was to defend the thesis that Grayling in his Emil Zola guise incorporated some good or debatable points. Your post ably confirmed this.


  77. “Trouble is he may be running out of expletives.”


    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


  78. There’s another episode of “my-team-didnt-win-therefore-democracy-is-broken” at the Guardian (HT Jaime). Unsurprisingly, the author is a university academic and has a book to sell.

    Triggered by Trump and the 5* movement in Italy, Yascha Mounk claims that “populist uprisings could bring down liberal democracy”. It’s quite a long article but it’s worth reading, to see how he works himself up to end up talking of “the project of saving liberal democracy”, and “Institutions need to curb the influence of money on politics and find new ways to allow citizens to have a say”.

    The Guardian does have a way for citizens to have a say, and it’s a pleasure to read the top-rated comments:

    The central tenet of your argument is so flawed and so indicative of the present day left

    People you don’t like are winning, naturally democracy must be failing.

    Same old garbage from the Guardian.
    “Democracy is in a crisis”
    Except that it’s not. Democracy kicks up change from time to time.

    Hard to understand why no matter how often you tell people they are fucking stupid uneducated racists they still don’t vote for you.


  79. Republics degenerate to Democracies which become Dictatorships – Aristotle


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