Will of the People

Will of the People?


Since when did the will of the people actually mean much to government and politicians?

If will of the people were so important, I doubt we’d pay any personal income tax; we’d be allowed to drive faster on motorways; the BBC license fee would have been done away with decades ago and the Poll Tax would never have even happened.

Like all things that politicians give their support to, will of the people is a bandwagon and nothing more, because it serves their rhetoric or party dogma.

It is convenient to the current Tory government, because it keeps their hard-right back-benches in order as the de facto excuse when anything or anyone tries to oppose the hard Brexit viewpoint.

It is handy to Labour, because their leader is more than happy to leave the European project, despite small bleating noises to the contrary.

It is a useful headline to the right-supporting press, because it makes them appear on the side of the people, regardless of what the actual people might think. But facts have hardly been something to stand in the way of a good headline or story in the tabloids.

But just how will of the people is Brexit?

Let’s take a look. Trust me, it won’t take long, because, like much of the Brexit story, it doesn’t stand up to much in the way of scrutiny.

What do the academics make of it?

This, by now very well known blog post from LSE tells you all you need to know. That’s right, it’s all utter rubbish. It never really has been the will of the people. It, like Brexit itself, is a con.

LSE, via another blog post, go on to posit that, in fact, there is no such thing, constitutionally speaking, as will of the people. The Supreme Court, in Miller agreed, stating that, constitutionally speaking, the referendum had no standing at all, but the Miller case, in general, is recognised as more of lesson to government in terms of what it can and cannot do using so-called Henry VIII powers. An excellent analysis of the Miller judgement can be found here and here. The latter being very instructive, if legally dense, the former being more for the lay person.

So, in conclusion, you’ve been conned.

The real question, however, remains: what are you planning to do about it?

Or perhaps, more pertinent, what can you do about it?

Polite, quiet protest seems not to be making much impact, but decent people don’t go out on the streets throwing molotov cocktails, which is exactly what the government is relying upon to see this wet dream of the hard right through to the point of no return (Or March 2019 by another name).

I could never advocate for violent protest, I do recommend various other approaches.

First, don’t give in. Never give in.

Write to people: email, comment, letter (remember those), and make it to an official that needs to respond. If they don’t, make freedom of information requests on how much correspondence they get that they decline to answer. If they don’t answer that, escalate to the information commissioner. Basically, make a nuisance of yourself, all the while reiterating the message that the so-called will of the people has changed.

In all of this, also remember the most important fact: the people, in will of the people is us, you and I and everyone we know. And another fact they’re not keen on you knowing: we’ve got them worried. Don’t let them get away with it. Brexit is a con. Let them know you know.

Featured Image Credit : Anonymous Protest by Sean P. Anderson on Flickr Creative Commons 2 license.

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