Ireland’s referendum shows that some people only like democracy when it gives them what they want

Ireland’s referendum shows that some people only like democracy when it gives them what they want, by Brendan O’Neill.

So referendums are good now? The turnaround has been astonishing. The very people who have spent the best part of two years in moral meltdown at the fact that Britons were given a referendum on membership of the EU are now beside themselves with joy over the abortion referendum in Ireland.

‘You know who loved referendums? HITLER’, they said endlessly about the EU referendum, seeming to suffer from a bad bout of the Ken Livingstone Hitler Tourette’s. Yet now they’ve magically forgotten that all referendums are basically acts of fascism and are hailing the Irish people’s mass vote for the right of women to secure an abortion as a wonderful moment in democracy. …

When they rejected Lisbon, Irish voters were mocked and mauled by both their own political elites and EU technocrats. They were branded ungrateful, thick, probably a bit xenophobic. And they were of course made to vote again — the dreaded Second Referendum that the part-time defenders of democracy always demand when things don’t go their way. See Brexit.

Speaking of Brexit: the difference between the UK liberal media’s treatment of the massive vote for abortion rights in Ireland and the massive vote for Brexit in Britain (17.4m votes, the most for anything in British history, as if you needed reminding) is staggering, if also depressingly unsurprising. In their flighty view, Brexit was the work of plebs brainwashed by a bus, while the the repeal of the Eighth was the work of an enlightened people. Brexit is scary and dangerous and therefore we should call it off; the repeal of the Eighth is brilliant and wonderful and therefore we should see it through. Brexit confirmed democracy is a terrible idea; the repeal of the Eighth shows it is a great idea. And on it goes, hypocrisy upon hypocrisy, anti-democratic wailing one minute, pro-democracy weeping the next. They support democracy, not in principle, but only if it gives them what they want. …

The double standards are amazing. Comment-worthy levels of amazing. It all speaks to a quite terrifying attitude to democracy from on high these days … The legitimacy of democracy is increasingly being determined by the whims and prejudices of small groups of powerful, tetchy people. They should try believing in democracy for real, full-time.

hat-tip Stephen Neil