Monday, June 06, 2016

Do voters fail democracy?

Democracy may be lauded as the "least worst" system available to govern countries, but there is a reason why most countries at least try and regulate it via a representative system.  From the American founding fathers onwards political leaders and thinkers have sought ways to respect the will of the people but not allow it to become tyrannical.  And a good thing too.  Political decisions should be taken with due consideration for facts and a high level of reasoned argument leading, one trusts, to rational outcomes.  Even having written that I'm aware just how fantastical it seems - we all know that emotions govern most political decision making and rationality comes a long way behind, but it's not a bad aspiration nonetheless.

Even so, there is normally some sort of correlation between reason, truth and decision making.  Not amongst voters though - at least if the current Yougov poll on trustworthiness is to be believed.

According to this, the most trusted politician on the EU debate is Janus' own disciple, Boris Johnson. Wise watchers of the EU debate have long been able to mock Johnson's snappy and easily made move from EU supporter to EU opponent.  The blog "Pride's Purge" has a great post essentially setting up a debate between the two Boris Johnsons, while the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland really went to town on Johnson's iniquitous approach to truth in an article aligning him with Donald Trump.

But perhaps the last word should go to the Guardian's Andrew Sparrow, reporting the poll findings:

Coming after Johnson’s evidence to the Commons Treasury committee (described as “mountains of nonsense” by the Tory chair Andrew Tyrie), his claim that the EU stops shops selling bananas in bunches of more than three, the bogus claim on the Vote Leave battlebus about EU membership costing the UK £350m a week and today’s “triple whammy” hyperbole (see 9.16am and 4.30pm), this is surprising, to say the least. Most politicians are capable of twisting the truth. But Johnson, as my colleague Jonathan Freedland pointed out in a column last month, is one of the few who has been sacked twice for dishonesty.
Sometimes I feel I don’t understand UK politics anymore. If Leave do win the referendum, the explanation will lie somewhere in the factors explaining these figures.

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