We hear today that 20 or so Tory rebels have defied the Party Whip and chosen to oppose the Brexit Withdrawal Bill being legalised in terms of our exit date. They will no doubt join our Labour Opposition friends in re-emphasising their beliefs on Brexit. I suppose a democratic society (or the current representation of one) should permit individuals to speak their minds and to resist following the herd for purely political ends. After all, isn't this what we've fought two World Wars to preserve and cherish ? The answer is somewhat more ambiguous. Yes, we do cherish the spirit of free speech, thought and position but we probably do so in the spirit of accommodating political expediency. It's hard to avoid the fact that our democracy is a political framework that works according to an unwritten but nevertheless widely accepted constitutional understanding that the utterances of Party members are divined by the Chief Whip. And the Chief Whip, of course, receives his infinite wisdom from the prime minister or the leader of the opposition depending upon who is in power. As for individuals, there are also unwritten but constitutionally supported (or interpreted) boundaries to free speech, thought and favour - our concessions to political correctness as a life-style mantra reinforce this day after day - which in reality tell us all, 'Yes, you can say this, but no, you can't say that'.
So why are we concerned if 20 odd rebels defy the whip and vote against a government motion ? It's quite normal, periodically, for one group or another to break away from the herd and challenge the status quo. If this never happened then we'd all be akin to being like zombies, remorselessly plodding along in a blind stupor. So I applaud the rebels. I don't agree with them but I respect their right to follow their minds more than some man-made political entity. Bravo !
But where might all this lead ? If we get rebels here, there and everywhere then government business would become impossible. So is there some middle ground where we can allow the impression of dissent which in reality is just a mechanism for potential dissenters to save face but officially toe-the-line - or should we just ban it altogether ? I mean, really, democracy is nothing more than a figment of our aspirations rather than a reality so just pretending it's there serves absolutely no purpose whatever. We might as well all don our zombie suits and file around chanting meaningless babble and behaving as our most worthy government demands.
This is where we sort the babble out from the necessity for absolute truth. Without truth we have no claim to be democratic. Without democracy we have little more than a dictatorship. With a dictator we follow the rules and obey the limits of our perceived freedoms but we do as we are told. If we do nothing more than that which we are told then we are not human any more. And if we are no longer human we might as well go into a dark place somewhere and let AI take over from us - I hear governments are keen on robotic responses these days. So to the Tory rebels I say, 'Keep going, don't waver if you truly believe what you stand for is right' - and yes, this will screw up the political machinery, but frankly the spectre of having nothing more than automatons in parliament is even more scary (we've already got an unhealthy number already there...). Think about it.
The earthquake bordering Iran and Iraq has killed and maimed many. So what happens when events like this occur in a politically sensitive and even a war zone environment ? Do the relief agencies walk in as normal or do politicians prescribe what is an appropriate and proportionate response ? I don't know the answer but my suspicion is that politics will be a factor in this decision - and as we've said before, politics is a dirty business. Let us hope that humanity triumphs over vested interest for once.