Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An unsettling gap

One of the most enlightening aspects about the debates about the European Treaty has been the light it has shed on the strained relationship between the ruled and the rulers. Peter Oborne's new book on the new political establishment has identified a new 'elite' in British society that consists of the political classes, media darlings and the like. This is held to explain why there exists such a dichotomy of opinion between 'us' and 'them'.
Think about capital punishment. If there were to be a referendum on whether that should be re-instated it is quite possible that a majority would still be found in favour. At the time that it was abolished that majority would have been very large indeed. Or look at Europe. People argue about whether there would be a majority for absolute withdrawal, or mreely a substantial minority, but it's fair to say that public opinion is significantly more sceptical than mainstream political opinion.
Does it matter? We live, as people who don't want a referendum on the European Treaty are constantly reminding us, in a representative democracy - we rely on our elected representatives to take all those difficult decisions for us. But where there is such obvious disconnect isn't there also a democratic deficit?

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