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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

In defence of democracy


In defence of democracy, Roslyn Fuller, Polity, 2019

This is a great book. Roslyn Fuller, the Director of the Solonian Democracy Institute, punctures with evidence and wit the arrogance and pomposity of those politicians and academics who tell us what to think and do.

After the two 2016 shocks, the majority vote to leave the EU and the election of President Donald Trump, the powers that be hit back. Ms Fuller sums up their all too common response: "Since 'the people' were at the base of these two 'wrong' votes, the obvious answer is to cut them out of politics and allow society to be governed by an 'enlightened minority' that would never have voted for either Trump or Brexit."

As she explains, "This version of events, which casts majority rule as an illegitimate evil and a self-proclaimed enlightened minority as a noble good, has, despite its arrogant and fanatic overtones, been persistently put across …" She cites examples: philosopher Julian Baggini said it was 'borderline insane' to trust the majority 'to reach fair and wise decisions', and told us that "Plato and Aristotle get a bad rap these days for their rejection of democracy. But the substance of their rejections were [sic] spot on." (Guardian, 5 October 2016.)

Lawyer Geoffrey Robertson urged MPs to overturn the Brexit vote because "Democracy has never meant the tyranny of the simple majority." ('How to stop Brexit: get your MP to vote it down', (Guardian, 27 June 2016.) (Nice ambiguity of the word simple, isn't there?) Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology at Sussex University, told us that "the notion that 50 per cent plus one is an acceptable threshold is a fiction." ('Brexit and the great pretence of democracy'.)

Ms Fuller comments, "But if it is hard to imagine nations making important decisions by a mere 50 per cent plus one majority, surely it is even harder to imagine making them by a 49 per cent minority, which is literally the only possible alternative."

Some academics even advocated taking away our right to vote. Daniel Bell wrote in his book The China model: political meritocracy and the limits of democracy (Princeton University Press, 2015), "the uncomfortable truth is that the best (perhaps only) way to reduce the political influence of ignorant voters is to deprive them of the vote." Maybe it is relevant that he is Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University in Qingdao in China?

The New Statesman published American business professor Jason Brennan's article about our democratic vote to leave the EU, 'Is this the end of democracy?', 21 December 2016. He wrote an earlier article, published in Aeon, 29 September 2016, urging that 'The right to vote should be restricted to those with knowledge'.

Another opponent of democracy is the US-based billionaire Nicholas Berggruen. He advocates a 'depoliticized meritocracy' to prevent 'short-term populist sentiment' from harming 'the long-term public good'.

His Berggruen Institute's members include Nicolas Sarkozy (former President of France, and supporter of the EU), Gerhard Schroeder (former Chancellor of Germany, and supporter of the EU), Guy Verhofstadt (former Prime Minister of Belgium, former Brexit Coordinator for the European Parliament, and supporter of the EU), Mario Monti (former - unelected - Prime Minister of Italy, and supporter of the EU), Jacques Delors (former - unelected - President of the European Commission, and supporter of the EU), Condoleezza Rice (former - unelected - US Secretary of State, and supporter of the EU), and of course Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair KG (supporter of the EU, and would-be unelected President of the European Commission).

There seems to be something about the EU, and about our vote to leave it, which really excites all these anti-democrats. What could it be?

Could it be that we voted to leave the EU because we did not think that it was a more democratic way of making decisions about our country's future? 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames