The Sign Of A Healthy Democracy

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From top:  Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May MP at No. 10 Downing Street on Mr Varadkar’s first official engagement outside of Ireland after becoming Taoiseach in June, 2017: Anthony Sheridan

It is grotesquely hilarious to witness Irish journalists, commentators and politicians condemning the British political system over its handling of the Brexit crisis. Here, for example, is Irish establishment journalist Alison O’Connor:

‘Who are these people who have risen through the ranks of British politics who don’t know their history, their geography or their arse from their elbow?’

The suggestion here is that Irish politicians, unlike their British counterparts, do know their arse from their elbow. There are millions of Irish citizens with ruined lives who would beg to differ.

And here’s Michael McDowell ignorantly suggesting that British politicians should adopt the same dishonest, anti-democratic strategy favoured by the corrupt Irish ruling elite when the people don’t do as they’re told – hold a second referendum:

‘Obviously our government has to pay lip service to accepting the outcome of the first British referendum, but others in Ireland should, in a friendly and decent way, publicly encourage the people’s vote cause. It would be honourable and honest to do so – provided it was not done in a counterproductive way.’

This sly, manipulative, patronising and dishonest attitude to how politics should be done is the norm in our dysfunctional democracy and therefore the likes of McDowell, in his ignorance, thinks it’s the norm in real democracies.

There is no doubt that the whole Brexit episode is a complete disaster for the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that stupidity, extreme nationalism, selfish party politics and cowardly political leadership are the main ingredients that led to the catastrophe.

But there is one element of the crisis that no mainstream Irish politician could possibly recognise or understand – British democracy is alive.

British democracy is a living, breathing, dramatic, often toxic, always passionate, sometimes uplifting, sometimes disastrous, but most importantly, always, always alive to the awareness that democracy belongs to the people, that in the end it is the people, for better or worse, who will decide the fate of the nation.

Ireland, on the other hand, is a dead democracy and has been since independence. Irish democracy is a rotten corpse that goes nowhere.

It performs just one function – it feeds and fattens the political maggots of the main political parties that have been crawling all over its putrid body since independence.

The principal difference between so-called Irish democracy and that of genuine democracies is evident in how ordinary citizens interact with their political systems.

Citizens of functional democracies such as the UK, France and Germany are aware that ultimate power rests with them, with the people.

They are aware that elected representatives are servants of the people, servants of democracy. In other words, in functional democracies, power flows from the bottom up and when that power is abused there is accountability and consequences.

That’s why there’s a virtual revolution going on in France. That’s why British politicians are extremely wary of dismissing the will of the people as expressed in the Brexit referendum.

In Ireland, the complete opposite is the case.

Unique among Western democracies, Irish citizens, for the most part, see power as residing in their elected representatives and government officials. They see power as coming from the top down and are forever grateful when the powerful throw them a few crumbs from the table.

There are historical reasons for this mindset that are too complex to go into at this time. Sufficient to say that this attitude, that the citizen is powerless and dependent on favours doled out by public representatives, has morphed into a system of political gangsterism that has destroyed the lives, wealth and hopes of millions of Irish citizens over the decades turning Ireland into a virtual banana republic.

History is the key to understanding how all this came about.

Prior to the English civil war of 1642 Parliament had very little power. At the time the divine right of kings to rule was absolute. But that all changed when King Charles I attempted to force Parliament to do his bidding.

When Parliament refused the king entered the House of Commons [the House of the People] with 400 soldiers and attempted to arrest five members. Charles Lenthall, the Speaker of the House, displaying great courage, told the king that he stood by [the people’s] Parliament and not the monarchy.

Not only did the king lose the ensuing civil war, he also lost his head when he refused to accept that power resided in the people and not in his person. The English monarchy never regained absolute power and the English people, to this day, are very aware that they are the real power of the land.

Just the other day, nearly 400 years after people power first challenged royal power, the current Speaker of the House, John Bercow, told those who sought to abuse the people’s parliament, to take a hike.

The evolution of Irish ‘democracy’ could not be more different.

When independence was achieved in 1922 power was usurped by an extremely conservative political class that created a fake democratic system based on parish pump politics and gombeenism.

Hughe swathes of power and influence were handed over to the Catholic Church that led directly to a holocaust of abuse and criminality that continues to this day.

Ireland has never had a functional democracy. Instead we have a political ruling class made up principally of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the near extinct Labour Party.

This is why there has never been a Right/Left wing political divide in Ireland as there is in almost all functional democracies. You cannot have such democratic balance in a country where there is, effectively, just one ruling class [party] masquerading as three political parties.

In Ireland we have a political system that is nothing more than a diseased corpse where the stench of corruption, lies, secrecy, cynical political manipulation and outright state criminality daily chokes the lungs of any hope of a genuine democracy emerging into the light of day.

Yes, British democracy is in crisis. Yes, total catastrophe is a distinct possibility, even the possibility of revolution. But that has happened before, it has happened in many countries over many centuries.

But the very fact that such chaos exists is testament that British democracy is a living, breathing entity where the people are fully engaged and ultimately supreme.

Only in countries like Ireland do we witness politicians and their toadying supporters in mainstream media say:

‘Look at the chaos that reigns in the UK in comparison to our stable political system here in Ireland.’

They little realise that apart from the stench and rot a [political] corpse is always stable.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Rollingnews

101 thoughts on “The Sign Of A Healthy Democracy

      1. Anomanomanom

        Well he is right. Just like in America,with their two party system, we basically have one coin and every now and then we flip it so the other side faces up. But its still the same coin.

        Reply
        1. Danny

          Though Ireland does differ from the US or UK in that there is actually scope for independents and smaller parties to have an effect. Ireland’s two party system is waning (the overall share of seats held by FF and FG in combination has been on a downward trend for a long time).

          Reply
        2. realPolithicks

          Your analogy is incorrect, in America at least there are two sides to the coin. In Ireland its a one sided coin with two parties fervently trying to pretend that there is any difference between them. The problem with Irish politics is that there is no effective opposition to this or any other government.

          Reply
    1. Tony

      Fairly undergraduate stuff – except for ‘Irish democracy is a rotten corpse that goes nowhere’ – that’s Pulitzer Prize material

      Reply
      1. Cian

        ‘Irish democracy is a rotten corpse that goes nowhere’
        What is this even supposed to mean? As opposed to a rotten corpse that goes places?

        Reply
        1. V for Frilly

          I’ll be the first to say Irish Democracy isn’t perfect and isn’t pretty

          But a rotten corpse
          GTF

          What Irish Democracy needs is people to stand up for it
          And not treat it like it is a rotten corpse

          Reply
    2. SOQ

      This on the the day after the British priminister effectively conceded that their democracy is broken and was forced to hand over control of their brexit schedule to the other member states?

      Yes dear.

      Reply
  1. bisted

    …great article…surprised this is published on Broadsheet given the democratic deficit usually on display here…

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      +1
      Refreshing piece particularly in the context of the hubris displayed in the Irish media in general.
      Fintan O’Toole comes across as deranged at this stage.

      Reply
      1. Mick The Hick

        Sadly there will now follow an outpouring of woke rage from the line-up of the usual nodding dogs in the back of the car in front who make up the bulk of the Broadsheet echo chamber.
        I love the constant irony of right-on liberals on here who genuinely believe the Irish electorate is well represented by the fat boggers,cap-wearing fruitcakes and corrupt freeloaders with their snouts in the Leinster House trough.
        The bovine stupidity of these posters is only matched by their gullibility.

        Reply
        1. A Person

          This has to be the most ill informed article and most anglophile article ever published on BS. To suggest that we do not have democracy is to ignore the truly awful parish pump politicians and the fact that most English cannot cannot name their MP. It also ignores that both NI and Scotland voted against Brexit. View the 16 year old on BBC last night

          In fairness the author does look like a middle aged Tory boy with similar views.

          Reply
          1. Andrew

            the 16 year old last night was an embarrassment that doesn’t understand democracy and neither do you.

          2. Termagant

            Scotland was given a choice to either self-determine or be a part of the British democracy. They chose the latter, it’s completely invalid to turn around now and say “well WE didn’t vote for it”. They didn’t vote for independence either.

          3. millie st murderlark

            They voted to remain in the UK, as a member of the EU, not to remain in the UK boldly sailing off a cliff of it’s own making.

          4. millie st murderlark

            But Scotland as a nation did not.

            The terms under which the Scots voted to stay in the UK are no longer what was voted on. Scotland voted to stay in a UK which was a member of the EU, and Brexit was not part of the dialogue at all.

          5. Termagant

            They also didn’t vote to remain a part of a UK invaded by aliens or swamped by a tidal wave. The question they were asked was “Should Scotland be an independent country” and they said no, not being independent means going along with the decision of the UK as a whole, it’s that simple.

        2. Nigel

          Oh Mick you are well able for these liberal bovine commenters who think all these silly things you say they think and are so easily dispatched with your mighty wit! Thrash them well, the peasant swine, then kiss me Hardy!

          Reply
          1. A Person

            Andre, why not reply to the fact that Scotland and NI voted no – is that democracy?

            Shurly BS you can do better than this piece of utter poop

          2. Termagant

            “is that democracy?”
            Yes
            According each person an equal vote and choosing the course of action with the most votes is definitive democracy.

          3. Boj

            Eh…yeah it is democracy A Person! The sovereign decision of the People must be respected. Regional results from within the UK are completely irrelevant. It was a 1 kingdom vote. Roscommon rejected the marriage ref…should it remain illegal in that region?

  2. RuilleBuille

    “see power as coming from the top down and are forever grateful when the powerful throw them a few crumbs from the table.”

    Water charges!

    Reply
  3. Rep

    “the same dishonest, anti-democratic strategy favoured by the corrupt Irish ruling elite when the people don’t do as they’re told – hold a second referendum”

    Urgh. Anyone who parrots this line is either remarkable ignorant or intentionally spouting falsehoods. The rest reads like something from an Irexit internal memo.

    Reply
    1. Brother Barnabas

      exactly – yet he then berates someone for their “sly, manipulative, patronising and dishonest attitude”. pot, kettle, black etc

      i stopped reading at that point

      Reply
  4. Liam

    what an enormous pile of crap.

    “Healthy democracy in action” – a government of public-school educated fools stuck in paralysis trying to force through the outcome of an barely-passed, crooked, “advisory” referendum, that was only called to prevent a split in the Tory party, and is being exploited by the rich and well-connected to feather their own nests whilst ordinary people and their children have their futures destroyed. Great, we’ll definitely have some of that here please!

    Reply
  5. Starina

    “That’s why British politicians are extremely wary of dismissing the will of the people as expressed in the Brexit referendum.”

    I’m pretty sure it’s more likely to be because many of them are nationalist, xenophobic, the-sun-never-sets-on-the-british-empire establishment twits and they all want to be Churchill.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      “I’m pretty sure it’s more likely to be because many of them are nationalist, xenophobic, the-sun-never-sets-on-the-british-empire establishment twits and they all want to be Churchill.”

      Yep, there you go, parroting ,lazy, sneering, patronising guff that has been regurgitated since the day of the referendum. Over 17 million people who voted are xenophobic twits?

      Reply
      1. Dave Freeband

        “Over 17 million people who voted are xenophobic twits?”
        Sadly, of that 17million, the ones I know are largely xenophobic. Maybe not twits in other areas, but gullible sillies in the poo they were fed by the Lie campaign.

        Reply
  6. rotide

    “Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.”

    That line tells you everything you need to know about this piece.

    Reply
  7. Frank.A

    Great to read something that isn’t following the extreme ‘remain’ bias narrative. The blanket coverage by Irish media since the morning of the Brexit referendum result has been alarming in it’s bias. Surely when a person sees absurd bias you’d imagine they would question the motivation??? It was the same with Trump.
    The British do a lot of things wrong but with democracy and justice they are a model to marvel at.

    Reply
    1. edalicious

      If everyone disagrees with you, they either have a sinister, premeditated agenda or you could just be completely wrong.

      Reply
      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        I will not be cowed by the likes of you. Hummus-waving, za’atar-eggs for breakfast, louche, zumba, whey-juice elitists. Eff off back to where you came from.

        Reply
          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            To be honest, I like it. And za’atar eggs. My pretensions always get the better of me, innit.

  8. Andrew

    “I’m pretty sure it’s more likely to be because many of them are nationalist, xenophobic, the-sun-never-sets-on-the-british-empire establishment twits and they all want to be Churchill.”

    Yep, there you go, parroting ,lazy, sneering, patronising guff that has been regurgitated since the day of the referendum. Over 17 million people who voted are xenophobic twits?

    Reply
  9. Stan

    I divide my time between Ireland and England, and have voted in each over the past number of years. I have no great faith in the purity of Irish democracy, and I agree about the hubris being displayed by the Dublin media and the right-wing parties because we have, belatedly, afforded reproductive rights to women and enacted marriage equality. We’re great entirely.
    However, I would hugely dispute the picture of democracy in the Uk that the article paints. The democratic deficit here – I’m in Yorkshire atm – is huge. FPTP means that huge swathes of the electorate have no representation – if you’re a Labour voter in the south, you could be a 100 miles from the nearest non-Tory MP; likewise in reverse here in the north. Secondly, the sheer distance between people and representatives is shocking to someone used to our parish pump level, as is the ignorance of procedure, and the complete ignorance as to how the EU runs.
    I would agree that the Irish media has swallowed the line that it was ignorant working class racists who are responsible for Brexit – it wasn’t, it was well to do tories in the south that swung it. Accepting this allows the media in Ireland to wave around the ‘populist’ word when talking about SF or the various pseudonyms the trots use and thus create a false identification with what’s happening here – which isn’t populist either, in any strict sense.

    Reply
    1. Danny

      Spot on. It really is amazing to watch someone argue for the democratic value of the UK’s electoral system (or the US’s for that matter). It is a failure of democracy if you don’t have the freedom to vote for your preferred candidate in an election (which very often is the case in the UK, when you must vote instead for the candidate with the best chance of keeping out the candidate you hate most).

      Having said all that, it is refreshingly nice to see a piece I don’t agree with posted on Broadsheet, though it would be better if it wasn’t such a steaming pile of poo.

      Reply
    2. Nigel

      Well said except since almost the day after Brexit I’ve been reading about the-myth-of-xenophobic-working-class -it-was-really-well-to-do-tories. Does anyone actually say that Brexit was wholly supported by the working class other than Brexiteers themselves?

      Reply
    3. f_lawless

      Also I think it’s unfair to say that he underlying factor driving the working class Leave vote was racism.
      I think a protest vote was coming anyway – years of Thatcherism , the disappointment of New Labour, then back to the Tories, added to that the neoliberal policies of the EU, austerity, etc – meant that large swathes of the UK have been in long tern economic and social decline and left feeling abandoned. People wondering – who’s to blame for my standard of living getting worse?
      Certain Brexiteers who don’t want to see a change to the neoliberal status quo in the UK post Brexit, picked an easy target and spun the narrative, “it’s the foreigners’ fault”, through the tabloids and demagogues, – which some bought in to, but it doesn’t mean that a protest vote to Leave wouldn’t have happened regardless.

      Reply
    4. sheskin

      Stan you don’t know what you are talking about.Most of the of the important part of the south is labour ie London,and quite a lot of the northwest is tory.These are the facts.

      Reply
      1. millie st murderlark

        Sounds like Stan knows exactly what he’s talking about actually. You on the other hand….

        Reply
    5. Rob_G

      Your post isn’t really supported by the data, Stan – lots of the (more working-class) Labour heartlands in the north and in Wales voted for Brexit.

      Reply
  10. Medium Sized C

    “You cannot have such democratic balance in a country where there is, effectively, just one ruling class [party] masquerading as three political parties.”

    I mean, that’s basically what the UK has been for some 20 years.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      If you mean Blair’s New Labour and Cameron and May’s centrist Tory party are/were the same then you have a point. What happens next will be interesting. Will the electorate decide to shift to the left and vote for Corbyn?
      I doubt it

      Reply
  11. Dave Freeband

    “Over 17 million people who voted are xenophobic twits?”
    Sadly, of that 17million, the ones I know are largely xenophobic. Maybe not twits in other areas, but gullible twats in the crap they were fed by the Lie campaign.

    Reply
  12. gobbledy

    Just when it looked like broadsheet was to all extents and purposes shutting up shop, along comes a classic polemic exorcising the vapid decomposing corpse ghosts of Dan Boyle and Derek Mooney.

    Even better, the anguished laments for the love of old Erin from pub bore Republicans, frantically searching down the back of their urine- and sick-encrusted trouser legs, looking for an argument, any argument at all ( my favourites being he looks like a Tory, or I stopped reading when he said that bad thing)- with which to be the devils advocate, like an elusive one euro coin needed to seal the deal for the last point to slobber in at a minute to closing time.

    Well done Anthony

    Reply
  13. Shayna

    Yikes! He writes as if Oliver Cromwell was a saviour of British democracy. He brought democracy to Ireland, his soldiers raping, pillaging the land. Eventually, because of his democracy Oliver Plunkett’s head rested atop a pike. The British and their democracy founded a regime in The Transvaal during The Boer War – camps. Later, Hitler and Stalin used similar camps.
    I think it unjust to liken Ireland’s democracy, which is in its formative years since the 1920s to that of our near neighbour who enslaved our citizens, diseased our lands with one crop, committed genocide – The Famine. 4 million people is the estimate of people who died, or left Ireland during the famine.
    I’m pleased that the author is so learned of Irish history, and a tad smug that he relishes in British democracy. I visited Drogheda Cathedral, when I was a kid to view St. Oliver Plunkett’s head. It was in a glass case. It was the most grotesgue, well the first grotesgue I viewed.
    British democracy in a glass case. It’s in the Vatican now.

    Reply
    1. Shayna

      It’s pretty much Irish, a version? Anything related to Ireland, or in the past people would send pics of things that kinda looked like Ireland, a Cornflake, for example – I hope that explains it?

      Reply
        1. Shayna

          I so bought/sold/gave away all of my copies of the first edition of the buke. I’m guessing there may be a market for VOL II -“Things that look like Ireland Vol 2” – a working title? I’d buy/sell/give away VOL II.

          Reply
  14. V for Frilly

    Since Democracy and Citizenship n’ the like
    are matters I’ve written a lot on meself
    Both here
    And on the off site location

    That all reads like a patchwork quilt
    I’d pick it apart
    But somehow I have an inkling people around here wouldn’t like it
    And shur’ why bother
    If tis going t’ be deleted

    But this is what ye wanted
    Someone who refers to Ireland as a
    Dead Democracy

    I’m as insulted by that
    As I was, am, of being accused of being *Bertie Nigel Millie Rotide etc etc

    * only saying lads, tis the accusers and false flaggers I’m getting at – shur’ yer know yerselves, nothing personal like

    Reply
  15. topsy

    Irish democracy ” …it feeds and fattens the political maggots…” An astute observation. Great article.

    Reply
  16. ReproBertie

    “The principal difference between so-called Irish democracy and that of genuine democracies is evident in how ordinary citizens interact with their political systems.”

    I guess I was dreaming the grass roots movements that both led to and campaigned in the referendums on SSM and Repealing the 8th.

    Reply
  17. Daisy Chainsaw

    I’m only missing “Unelected Taoiseach” for Buzzword Bingo (angry gammon edition). Absolute twaddle!

    Reply

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