This Sunday morning, whilst considering the results of the referendum on exiting the EU, I turned to a book with a title I adore written by a man I admire – Arguments for Democracy by Tony Benn. Benn once came up with five questions to ask the powerful, saying that if they could not be satisfactorily answered, their power was not derived in a democratic fashion. These were:
A society can be divided when it cannot decide collectively on the direction it wants to go. Within the UK, Northern Ireland has been one of the more divisive regions, with divisions being formed along religious, political, monarchism/republicanism and community lines. This division turned into violence, with harrowing consequences. In some countries, democracy is seen as a mob that is self-interested and imposes a tyranny of the majority without establishing a consensus. However, in a mature democracy like the UK, clear wins in elections are accepted as creating a mandate for whatever action the majority voted for, and there is a consensus that minorities should be protected by their elected representatives.