Let us praise the liberal democracy of the United Kingdom

My post on Why I’m going to vote No attracted a number of comments here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. The four people who have posted comments on this blog are all ‘Yes’ supporters and also polite and thoughtful. A change from much of the social media ranting that goes on from all sides. My thanks to them.

One comment only, on Facebook, took a negative view, apparently because of my inclusion of the 1979 referendum in a list of dates that I believe have their own myths of ‘triumph, despair or grievance.’ Another comment didn’t agree with me but said the piece was ‘nicely written’ by ‘a nice man.’ I think that’s being, er, nice.

I don’t intend to come back on all the points raised, although I may return to the list of economic issues which some people thought I had either lifted from a Better Together leaflet (not true, I don’t think I’ve ever read one of their leaflets through – sorry BT) or wilfully blinded myself to the views of the ‘alternative media.’

The one issue I want to touch on here was raised by a number of people. I said that

I already live in a liberal democracy. It’s called the United Kingdom … I see no point in breaking away to form a separate liberal democracy behind a new international border.

People said that I was wrong, that the UK was far from liberal.

Perhaps I should have used different words or explained better. ‘Liberal’ in this sense has a particular meaning, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains

Liberal democracy: A democratic system of representative government in which individual rights and civil liberties are officially recognized and protected, and the exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law.

That’s what I meant, nothing more and nothing less. It seems to me the dictionary is right. That is what we have. To the extent even that the representative government of the UK was willing to accept the democratic decision of the Scottish electorate (or the 50.6% of it that voted in 2011) to put a party into government that promised them a referendum on independence.

There may be other arguments for independence but the nature of democracy in the UK is not one of them. You may not like the UK governments people choose to elect (I have the same problem with the current Scottish Government) but that is another matter entirely.

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