Back in the 18th century, political reformer Henry Fox was advocating giving the vote to more people. But only, he insisted, to what he called ‘the better sort’. Not ‘the mob or the mere dregs of the people’. Heaven forbid!
Now, in the 21st century, such derogatory sentiments about ‘the people’ are dangerously back in fashion — ever since they dared vote for Brexit in Britain, and for Donald Trump in the United States.
Questions are being asked in high places about whether ordinary voters are fit to make decisions on major issues.
As a result, democracy — the cornerstone of our way of life — is being undermined, its very survival put at risk. Its modern enemies are mustering from all corners — but most worryingly from the Left, the very area where its stoutest defenders should be.
As a long-standing person of the Left, I fear that democratic freedoms are now in danger of being abandoned as elitists in our midst attempt to restrict them.
Every serious politician and thinker declares his or her belief in democracy. Yet, in practice, they seek to separate power from the people. The mantra has become ‘I’m a democrat, of course, but …’