Full democracies are countries which score between 8 and 10 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index. At a score of 8.08 the UK is on the cusp of becoming a ‘flawed democracy’. It’s surprising the UK scored so well considering all the fundamental British values – democracy, rule of law, respect and tolerance, and individual liberty – have been trampled by almost all of our elected officials over the past 15 months.
By Rhoda Wilson
The UK’s democratic liberties were once the envy of the world and were looked upon as an example other countries could look up to. The UK famously has an unwritten constitution, its constitutional rules existing in multiple sources, both written and unwritten. Some argue that it’s now essential to reduce it to a single written document but “by comparison, the United Kingdom has a better culture … because the political system has developed invaluable conventions and norms,” Dr. Alex Magaisa, University of Kent.
The Magna Carta, as re-issued in 1297, established the idea that people possess certain unalienable rights that cannot be overruled. Yet, using the ‘pandemic’ as an excuse, both local and national governments have overruled them. Instead of governing by consent they’ve chosen to use ‘rule by decree’ and ‘rule by fear’ – tactics favoured by dictators.
“Liberal democracy will be the biggest casualty of this pandemic,” Lord Sumption.
A democracy is only as strong as the opposition and this has possibly been one of the biggest failings for liberal democracy in the UK. Parliamentary opposition has failed to challenge Covid policies and stand up for individuals’ rights and freedoms. Contrarily, Labour, in particular, has consistently pressed for draconian restrictions to go further, sooner or for longer – giving the impression that Britain has become a one-party state. A case in point is a compulsory ID card scheme – launched, then scrapped, by the then Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Although Blair continues to be a relentless champion, it is a Conservative government intent on implementing it.
Even if cross-party ‘group think’ hadn’t taken hold, it seems the main opposition party is on course to self-destruct. At least fifty-five Labour councillors, MPs and mayors have been arrested, charged, suspended, or placed under investigation in the past six months. Some of the crimes and allegations are shocking:
- Blackpool Council leader avoids sexual harassment inquiry by resigning from party, but remains a councillor.
- Hartlepool MP sexually assaulted victim multiple times, tribunal concludes. Criminal inquiry imminent.
- Northampton mayor suspended from the party after being found guilty of breaching a Community Protection Notice.
- Renfrewshire councillor under investigation for antisemitism.
- Sheffield City Council councillor under investigation for antisemitism
- Wycombe councillor charged with postal vote fraud.
- Warrington North MP proven to have broken electoral laws.
- Mayor of Great Yarmouth suspended while ‘undisclosed allegations’ are investigated.
- Blackburn Council placed under police investigation over fraud allegations.
- Newcastle councillor jailed for extensive stalking campaign against female constituent.
- Deputy Mayor of Slough suspended and under investigation for ‘serious allegations’.
- Two Peterborough councillors suspended. Reasons unclear.
- Seven Peterborough councillors suspended for antisemitism.
- Birmingham Hodge Hill MP accused of misusing public cash.
- Two Sandwell councillors quit, claiming Labour are trying to ‘cover-up corruption and cronyism’.
- Thanet Council leader quit after being accused of ‘series of failures’.
- Two London councillors accused of antisemitism.
- Leeds councillor charged with attempted rape, two counts of indecent assault and a further serious sexual offence.
- Manchester councillor suspended for breaching coronavirus travel regulations.
- Milton Keynes councillor arrested for leaving 4-year-old home alone in house that ‘reeked of urine and faeces’. Given suspended sentence.
- Rotherham councillor continued to accept a wage for being on the pensions board, despite standing down from the role fifteen months ago.
- Wolverhampton councillor charged with fraud.
- Former MP for Leicester East was expected to face criminal charges following the leaking of an infamous video showing the politician offering a male prostitute cocaine.
- Tower Hamlets councillor suspended over antisemitic post, is welcomed back.
- Blackpool Council acting councillor quit after woman files misconduct complaint.
- Eight elected officials in Wales suspended over antisemitism.
- West Oxfordshire councillor suspended over antisemitism.
- Exeter City councillor, during the time of his vile offences, worked in a children’s home and downloaded over one million horrific images of child abuse, including of 12-year-old girls being raped.
- Oxfordshire County councillor suspended after illegally purchasing Covid jab to jump queue.
- Mayor of Liverpool arrested on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation.
- Welsh Member of the Senedd, who accused Boris Johnson of breaking lockdown, is caught joining parliament zoom call from lover’s pad in another country.
- Two Croydon councillors suspended over ‘dodgy deals’ that led to council’s bankruptcy.
- Derby councillor appears in court over postal vote fraud.
- Mayor of Blackburn resigned after breaking Covid rules.
- Oldham councillor charged with downloading child porn.
- Ilford councillor jailed for 17 months after committing fraud to win his seat.
- Poplar and Limehouse MP charged with housing fraud.
- Lord of Rotherham awaits verdict after being charged with child abuse
There can be no hope of a strong opposition, nor a well-functioning democracy, when the main opposition party is incapable of selecting worthy candidates. Coupled with elected officials, irrespective of political affiliation, destroying our democratic liberties – despite having committed to represent, govern, administer and serve on behalf of and in the interests of the people – and it’s no wonder Britain is looking more like a dictatorship than a liberal democracy.
Democracy relies on a culture built upon freedom and equality where everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities. A democratic society depends on individual rights but also entails responsibilities. When elected officials fail, it becomes the responsibility of the people to establish, develop and sustain democracy.
“The most important political office is that of the private citizen,” Justice Louis Brandeis