Thursday, August 04, 2011

Death Penalty: For The Avoidance of Doubt



However ... what it does raise is an interesting discussion regarding indirect democracy.

As I often ask my A Level students; if democracy is a good thing, what happens when MPs and the public collide on an issue such as - the death penalty? A few years ago a very bright young student called it "pick 'n mix democracy"; the public get to choose which issues it ought to have primacy over (death penalty, Europe, single currency, immigration to name a few) and which issues it delegates to parliament (everything else you don't find on the letters page of the Daily Mail, he quipped.) But we don't have a "pick 'n' mix democracy", we just have a parliamentary democracy, I said.

Ah, my padawan learner replied, and there-in lies the issue. Under "pick 'n' mix democracy" the pubic get the choose what they decide about, under "parliamentary democracy" the MPs do. I was reminded of this conversation when the AV Referendum was announced - the classic example. We, the people, don't get to decide on the death penalty (which a lot of people care about about) but do get to decide on AV (which very very very few people care about).


(Oh, and I say this as somebody absolutely and totally opposed - to both the death penalty and AV).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pick an mix politics...who decides who decides who decides...contraversal issues with clear principle become diluted to meaningless or nothingless by procrastination at different levels of media or poltical inaction/cowardice.

IMO Death penalty should come back for clear cases of murder of policemen, doctors, judges or teachers. Perhaps safeguarding these honourable and frontline officials (I'd like commissioned) professions; where the case and evidence is clear and unquestionable.