Attack on democracy

Many things are considered or talked of as attacks on democracy, sometimes too easily and sloppily, but the murder of a serving MP must count as a real, direct, and terrible attack on democracy. It has been distressing to read about the murder of Sir David Amess that has taken place a week ago. There is an added dreaded sense of horrors repeating again, as the memory of what happened to Jo Cox remains fresh.

While MPs are often harshly castigated but quite rightly criticized for their shortcomings, they are elected by the people, and many if not most of them discharge their duty as the parliamentary representative of and for their constituents conscientiously. It requires a lot of character and fortitude to be an MP, personality traits I do not possess and for that reason alone, I respect those who are and aspire to be politicians, even if I disagree with them and sometimes mock them.

The ease of access to the elected representative through surgery sessions is one of the hallmarks of British democracy, and perhaps one of the strongest arguments for maintaining an electoral system based on single-member constitutencies than introducing for instance party-list proportional representation. Many people seem to have a negative view of MPs in general, as an amorphous abstract, but at the same time have a positive or at least more balanced view about their MP.

Right or left, religious or secular, groups or individuals, extremists and terrorists will continue to undermine the fabric of democracy in the UK and elsewhere. Britain faces a tough task in balancing openness, access, and safety. Democracy demands the first two and is impossible without the third.