I don't intend this blog to become very political, but sometimes things get under your skin, you know? One such thing is the phrase, rolled out again and again, 'the will of the people'. The purpose of the phrase is to suggest that any dissent on Brexit is anti-democratic and therefore to be condemned. And it's driving me insane...
- I opposed Brexit, am I not one of the people? What's more, over 16m opposed Brexit - are they not 'the people' too?
- Give the nature of the debate and the dishonesty of the campaigns it is not clear what the people wanted
- Brexit was never effectively defined. Just because the people voted for x, it does not follow that they wanted x1 or x2 or so on. Therefore we cannot say exactly what the 'will of the people' is.
- 'The People' are often wrong. Just because the people want something it does not follow that they should get it.
- It fails the fact-value distinction - it may be a fact that the people want x, it does not follow that there is any moral obligation that x should be done
- It is the democratic duty of our MPs, Lords and judiciary to scrutinise and challenge the proposals that are made in or though Parliament. As such they are not running against the 'will of the people' - they are doing their job
- The term 'will of the people' is nonsensical. People are not in any sense so singular that they could have a will.
- The voices most predisposed to using the phrase have been demonstrated again and again to not have the interests of the people in mind (Daily Mail, Daily Express, some politicians)
- Given the contentious nature of the debate, it is not a given that a majority of the people would still will for that outcome.
- The age range of the people who willed for Brexit is such that the majority will have died before we have, if we ever do, leave the EU. The same cannot be said for those who will live to see it. Might we have a time where respecting the will of the people is equivalent to ignoring the will of the living?
So, argue for Brexit if you must. If someone is arguing back, however. then please respond with something better than that they are failing to respect the 'will of the people'.