Political caveat emptor

by Pseud O'Nym

When writing yesterday in the immediate aftermath of The Supreme Court ruling that the proroguing of parliament was unlawful, I cited a number of reasons why I felt the law of unintended consequences might soon come to play an ever increasingly disruptive role in our democracy. Having slept on it, I’m more convinced of it now than I was yesterday.

Not just because, as was pointed out on the excellent ‘Brexitcast’ podcast, it raises to spectre of any controversial government decision being challenged, and possibly overturned by The Supreme Court. The Labour Party may well see this ruling as a victory for democracy now, when it accords with their political objectives, but what happens if they get into government? Will they be so happy if, lets say, a decision to bring the railways back into public ownership, or to sequestrate public school playing fields was similarly challenged? And they lost? Policies that had been the result of a democratic mandate at yesterdays Labour Party conference been declared unlawful by unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable members of a court that is now writing its own rules.

As I wrote yesterday

Britain doesn’t have a written constitution, instead we have a bewildering array of conventions and precedents built up and built upon over centuries

But if the court is now following precedents it has created, without those precedents being challenged, then what happens next? Who has ultimate power? Will appointees to the Supreme Court become increasingly political, such as in America, where a President knows they may only serve eight years at most, but appointees to the US Supreme Court serve for longer and rule on matters of the utmost import.

Earlier this month I got a letter informing me I’d been selected for jury service. I was overjoyed. If people want democracy to work, I reasoned, people needed to do their bit to make it work. I’ve even gone so far as to visit the court building, to make sure it can meet my needs. But now I’m in a quandary, inasmuch as I still feel that way, that for democracy to function effectively it requires the active participation of the people. But after yesterdays ruling, do I believe that democracy works? Am I still required to honour the obligations beholden upon me, if I believe that democracy isn’t honouring its to me?

And if, as has been widely speculated, Boris Johnson does indeed submit a proposal for a general election to parliament later today, what’s the point in bothering to vote? As I wrote yesterday

If I, along with 17.5 million other people, had voted to leave, only for 11 judges to seek to prevent it from happening, I’d be asking exactly whose interests does the law serve?