Bad choices from flawed bunch

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Frank Greenall
Frank Greenall

The good people of the not-so-United Kingdom have voted. A triumph of democracy, but also an excellent illustration of the old adage: "Beware what you wish for".

Many of those who voted Brexit are now wishing for a Groundhog Day where they could wake up again to Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe on the trannie and have it apply to the European Union.

The trouble with democracy is that it involves people. Which, of course, is where the term comes from - demos being ancient Greek lingo for same.

But we're a flawed bunch, capable of making some seriously bad choices. A South American adage has it that their continent was the Good Lord's jewel in the crown, but She made the mistake of populating it.

Before the vote was even taken on Brexit, uneasy punters were circulating a petition declaring mandate on such a momentous issue required more than a simple majority - that it should obtain at least 60 per cent approval, and a minimum voter turnout of 75 per cent.

That is, of course, very conditional democracy. Not quite as bad as Queensland gerrymandering tactics of yore, where holding squatting rights over 10,000ha or so was considered the base line for voting eligibility.

But we have similar provisos ourselves with regard to constitutional matters.

But in the cold light of Brexit reality, and anguished second thoughts, this petition is now moving faster than a Californian brushfire in a forlorn bid to get the proviso retrospectively instated and a referendum re-run.

A while back, as part of the lead-up to a pending election here, a TV reporter was doing the usual vox-pop spot interviews with punters in a blue collar suburb of normally die-hard Labour supporters. Punter No1 said that, although he'd always voted Labour, he was going to vote for Mr Key this time because he seemed such a friendly fellow.

Punter No2 was of similar persuasion, but the clincher for her was Mr Key's really nice smile.

On such astute analyses do voters democratically determine the destiny of nations.
In the same vein, in the wake of the Brexit vote, Google reports that its second most asked question has been: "What is the EU?"

This despite the fact that the European Union has been around for roughly a quarter of a century. (The most asked question incidentally being: "What does it mean to leave the EU?")

Equally disturbingly, the most asked question just prior to the referendum was: "What is Brexit?"

There's also the hoary old quote about democracy being the worst voting system of all - except for all the others. As with the jury system, we're only too well aware of the horrendous outcomes of bad information in, bad result out. Yet despite this, the collective will can sometimes mystifyingly divine a "right" result in the face of more conventional logic.

Many say the Brexit referendum result was less about the pros and cons of EU membership than a protest vote against the predatory manipulations of a financial sector and multinational elite, for whom "posh boys" Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were merely the bagmen.

Although that particular protest could have been registered at the recent UK election, the vote nevertheless puts all political parties on notice. Bernie Sanders lamented, to his disadvantage "poor people don't vote". The Brexit referendum says otherwise. But now UK voters have the prospect of Boris as PM - a prospect many now fear is maybe not so much Boris Johnson as scary-on-a-stick Boris Karloff in his screen role of Dr Frankenstein's aberrant monster. Worse, Dr Frankenstein may come out of retirement and do a Monster Mash by cloning Boris with the Donald.

Yet, after the financial reef fish settle, who knows? An independent United Kingdom once ruled the world. In 1966, English football captain Bobby Moore held the World Cup aloft to prove it.

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