Probably the Leave campaign’s best argument in the run-up to the Referendum was that Britain had been forced to cede some of its sovereign democracy to Brussels.
The argument goes something like this: in the middle of the E.U. is a weird government-shaped thing called the European Commission, run by Darth Juncker and his team of nameless, faceless Eurocrats (here they are on Wikipedia, the evil, shadowy anonymoids), who pass down endless mad regulations about the legally permissible curvature of bananas, and the British people have no direct democratic means to remove these lunatics.
The argument that Britain has lost some of its 'sovereign democracy' is, I think, a good one.
However, I also think it might have better a better one, if Britain’s ‘sovereign democracy’ wasn't simulteneously a synonym for a rag-tag bundle of mostly undemocratic insanity.
Europeans (as British people call them), might not know, for example, that Britain has an electoral system called First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). I won’t bore you with the details, but the main thing you need to know about FPTP is that it is almost exactly as modern, fair and inclusive as it sounds. It is the golf of governance.
If ‘democracy’ was an idea you liked, for example, you probably wouldn’t design one where voter’s votes were worth wildly varying amounts, depending only on their location, and where all non-winning votes were taken out the back and shot.
In the end, the amount of votes cast for a political party have little correlation with the amount of MPs that end up ruling the U.K. for five years. The last election in 2015 was, according to the Electoral Reform Society, the least representative election in British history. The winners (and the current group of folks in charge) won 50.8% of the seats with 36.9% of the votes. They formed a majority government from 24% of the electorate.
Nevertheless, by the codified rules of Great Golf-land, these are now the chaps able to exercise 100% of their winner's rights, and the folks allowed to enthusiastically Brexit everyone, however they specfically want, with a stunning "Brexit means Brexit" (advisory) mandate of 1.89%.
As for the upper house - whose role is to balance out the “elected” government - that’s called the House of Lords, the name of which might already give you one, small clue about where this is going.
Democratically speaking, the House of Lords is an institution that will mostly never contain you. On its seats, you’ll find the bums of 26 compulsory bishops (!), four dukes (!), and 92 hereditary peers (please note: men). The remaining members of the chamber (Lords, Baronesses, Earls, Marquess’, and Viscounts) are a whole slew of amazingly-titled characters that sound like they were beamed in directly from a Game of Thrones flashback. While the whole list is good for a chuckle at Britain’s staggeringly entrenched tweeness, a few of my personal highlights include the Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone, the Lord Palumbo of Southwark, and the Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (“Hodor!”)
These bastions of ‘sovereign British democracy’ are appointed, of course, to their life-long positions by something called a Queen. “Oh, what’s a Queen,” you ask? Why, that’s an old lady in a very sparkly hat who is elected in another fascinating exercise of ‘sovereign British democracy’ called, “Who is the person that came out of the vagina of the previous lady in a very sparkly hat?”
By the way, I’m not even saying that this is a bad, silly or outdated way to run a country. Maybe it’s a system as good and valid as any other; who knows? All I am merely pointing out is that if you most like the argument that British people can’t handle being partly run by unelected leaders who are somehow detached from the ordinary reality of their lives, that’s ironic.
It is, after all, the only thing we’ve ever known.
Sometimes, living in modern British society feels like you've been casually taken hostage by a load institutions beamed in from Downton Abbey and the Dungeons and Dragons Dimension. What's more, most of us still don't seem to mind. According to the polling organisation YouGov, for example, 68% of Britons still favour the monarchy, which makes you wonder if they haven't heard Darwin's great news yet.
Indeed, have a look at this video of the BBC's footage of a royal parade, over-dubbed with the BBC's commentary on a North Korean Cult of Personality military parade. It's uncanny.
As one watches the great swathes of the British proletariat, cheer and wave tea-towels at their unelected god-chosen overlords, one cannot help wondering if a national version of Stockholm Syndrome hasn't set in for the British. This wouldn't exactly be surprising, given that we are a whole country of people who have been forced to spend their entire lives licking the Queen's back side.
By which I mean, of course, that the Queen is on the front of every stamp.
Clearly, if Britain is going to get the 'sovereign democracy' it wants so dearly, it might need to be imposed upon us from the outside-in. I would therefore encourage the EU to see the upcoming two years as an extensive hostage negotiation. Perhaps they can use something - Acess to the Single Market, for example - as a bargaining chip to promote democracy on the island.
In return, we can offer a hot tip for who’s going to win the next Sparkly Hat election (spoiler alert: Charles).