Tuesday, 21 April 2015


'Democracy', we are told, is a good thing.  Unfortunately, it turns out most people no longer know what 'democracy' means.

According to Graeme Archer (writing today for the Daily Telegraph), a minority Labour government supported by the Scottish Nationalists would 'have no democratic legitimacy'.  As Twitter user 'Primly Sable' points out, this must mean the last coalition government also 'lacked legitimacy'.
And it's true that I did see plenty of people complaining about the coalition in 2010, claiming that the government had no mandate.  Phrases like "nobody voted for this government!" were very much in evidence (despite being demonstrably false).  The truth is, however, not that those people genuinely believed the coalition government 'lacked legitimacy', but more that they simply didn't like the coalition government.  All too often, questioning a government's mandate is simply a tactic to damage the credibility of a government you don't support.

I do not like the SNP.  Not one bit.  But it is ludicrous to think that, if they win a significant number of Westminster seats on 7th May (as well they might!), any influence they end up having in a UK government is somehow 'illegitimate' – as if they took part in some sort of heist.  Like MPs from any other party, SNP MPs are democratically elected to parliament, because that is who the voters in that constituency want to represent them.  And although the SNP, or their supporters, have occasionally been guilty of this themselves (think 'postal votes' in the Scottish Independence Referendum last September!), being an advocate of democracy also means not crying 'foul!' and branding the whole system bankrupt just because you end up with a result you don't like.

It's fine not to like the government – in fact, it should be encouraged!  But if that's the case, just say so, instead of hiding behind high-minded obfuscation about 'democratic legitimacy'.

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