Should the unelected House of Lords veto the referendum result of the British people? According to 82% of the Independent's followers, Yes.
Today's live poll by the Independent is quite extraordinary. Let's take a step back for just a moment and recall the standard attitude to the Lords of Britain's liberal left class. It is an anachronism, a disgrace, an insult, it's medieval, it must be abolished, overthrown, reformed, reconstituted - basically, it's a terrible, immoral, nasty thing.
Why? Because it's not democratic. It is unelected men and women interfering in democratic politics; people we cannot elect and cannot remove. Its old defenders, the right, would reply that it dampened the excesses of the Commons, a useful braking system on democratic exuberance. 'Nonsense!', came the reply. What elitist, snobbish contempt for democracy and for working men and women.
All that has now changed. The people asking for unelected old aristocrats to thwart a democratic referendum are trendy young hipsters and right-on liberals. Clearly, the 'ironic' aesthetic has got plenty of legs left in it.
At the time of writing, 82% of the Independent's followers want the Lords to veto Brexit.
These are extraordinary times, and the ramifications of these exchanges will be long lasting. The left's traditional position has been to support moving power to the people - lowering the voting age, devolution, electoral reform, abolishing the Lords or making it elected, and so on.
What the left is today doing is pleading with Britain's most elite institutions to overrule a clear referendum result. They have asked for MPs to overturn it, they have asked (at great expense) the courts to strike it down, and they now want the unelected House of Lords to veto it. The ironies are multiple. Not only has the left moved from resisting to supporting unaccountable, elite power, but it is now asking an unelected institution to block the public's wishes to free itself from another unelected institution.
The left's growing hostility to both free speech and democratic politics ultimately stems from the same problem - that the left has become increasingly alienated from the public it claims to represent. There are many sensible avenues for addressing this problem. Crawling at the feet of Lord Aristo IV to strike down a referendum result is possibly not the best of them.
10th Feb 2017
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