Monday, 29 November 2010

Democracy and basic maths

Here's this weird argument I am hearing again and again that somehow, the current student riots are 'democratic' and the government are 'undemocratic'.So we have a poster on Labour List claiming that the government ' lacks democratic legitimacy ' which is funny because 59% of people voted for parties in the coalition and only 35% for the previous Labour government and I never heard anyone on Labour List call that government into question, even after Brown took over without an election.

Of course, this claim is made on the basis of the two parties not carrying out every detail in their manifesto - again, it's a coalition which entails compromise, and it's odd that it's the Lib Dems who get the flak for abandoning tuition fees whereas the Tories don't seem to be getting any flak for abandoning their inheritance tax proposals. And again, both parties have a very good reason for this - the coalition - whereas Labour's failure to enact a good number of their 97 manifesto proposals have nothing like the same justification, given they had a solid mandate from the voters to enact everything in it.

But apparently, regardless of all this, the government is undemocratic and the true keepers of the flame of democracy guessed it, the NUS.

Direct action that is democratically conducted and organised by a mass movement can be empowering and liberating...the real challenge to this government comes from democracy and people taking control of their own lives in resisting this government's ideologically driven attacks.
Hmmm. Let's consider this. 77% of voters voted for parties who wanted to implement Browne.  That suggests there was a fairly strong democratic mandate to adopt it.  Let's also consider how many people are on the streets protesting. The first student protest was the largest and attracted 50,000 people.  Out of an electorate of 45 million people, that's just over 0.1%. Even if we accept that for every person who marches, 10 others felt the same but couldn't be bothered, that's still only just over 1% of the UK electorate. If we consider that a lot of the people marching were under 18, and either subtract them or therefore work it out as a percentage of the UK population, not just electorate, the percentage is even smaller. To put it into perspective, ONE HUNDRED TIMES as many people marched against the Iraq war.  ELEVEN TIMES as many people voted for the BNP in May.  I once worked in an area where I am pretty sure there were 50,000 people who would have marched on Parliament to get rid of all foreigners if they thought they had a chance of success. Is that democracy? What are these people on Labour List suggesting? That if 50,000 people march on an issue, the government should adopt it? That this is somehow democratic?

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