Columnists > Should ‘the people’ be able to have what they want?

10 November 2016 | by Carmody Grey

Should ‘the people’ be able to have what they want?


Our highest judiciary should apparently be sacked. No matter how Ukip’s Suzanne Evans tried to dress up this view as unimpeachable on the Today programme, the infantile reaction underlying it was plain: the judges should be sacked because they don’t agree with “us”. Fifty-two per cent of us anyway – which seemingly counts as “the people”. Nigel Farage’s description of the High Court ruling as a “betrayal” evinced a similar view.

How could anyone miss the catastrophe such an attitude would result in, were it to carry the day? Yet, these two are only the articulate representatives of a wave of angry indignation sweeping social and news media. The Daily Mail, approaching a matter of subtle judgement with its usual sledgehammer, showed pictures of the three judges under the headline, “Enemies of the People”. But even amid the more nuanced responses in our media, the most urgent matter of principle has been barely touched: should “the people” be able to have what they want?

Democracy is fragile enough in too many places in the world. But it needs to be said – and a Catholic with any knowledge of tradition should feel compelled to say it – that democracy is not the highest value, and “the people” do not have a de facto right to anything.


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