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The Daily Mail’s betrayal of democracy

Posted by on November 5, 2016.

The Daily Mail rejects the principles of democracyIf you value freedom and democracy, shun the Daily Mail – it has become nothing more than an instrument of Tory government that ignores the law of the land. This week’s front page is just the latest example.

The background is this. Referendums do not create laws – only government can create laws. Laws come from parliament, elected by people. So, bottom line, the prime minister cannot activate article 50 and begin the break from the EU on the say-so of a referendum. She needs the agreement of parliament. That’s the law of the land as interpreted by the independent judiciary whose democratic purpose is to interpret the law.

Clearly, the Daily Mail either doesn’t understand the theory of democratic freedom; or simply doesn’t care for it.

It is not the purpose of the judiciary to support the latest view of government, but to interpret the law. It is the law that either supports or rejects the current wish of government, and there can be no exceptions. This process is essential to avoid the tyranny of government by impulse. If government doesn’t like the judiciary’s interpretation of the law, it has a clear solution: amend the law to whatever suits.

While government is able to change the law, it has to be mindful of getting support in both houses of parliament, and maintaining (or at least giving itself time to regain) public support before the next election. The judiciary is thus an essential brake on the runaway arrogance of government. Government must obey the law just like the rest of us – and only an independent judiciary not subject to the fluctuating roll and pitch of Cabinet can maintain the democratic freedom of the people.

Absurd headlines like this from the Daily Mail display at least an ignorance of – but more likely a contempt for – the law, tradition, freedom and democracy. The place for opinions like this is where opinions belong in a newspaper – inside on the Leaders page: but never as if it is factual news on the front page.


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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions | Tags: