While democracy itself is effectively “the oppression of the minority by the majority”, can there ever be any justification to ignore the legitimate concerns of voters?
Even if only held by a minority, is not everyone’s view equally important? Do we want a democracy that seeks to deride and disregard the legitimate concerns and interests of minorities?
Has the prevailing logic which lays claim to the moniker of liberalism become so militant and intolerant that it no longer represents our traditional understanding of the word?
Perhaps it has, for here in the Borders I read that a senior Liberal Democrat party PPC (Catriona Bhatia) suggested that the police should not be allowed to determine relevant facts when reporting crime to the public. She then proceeded to complete her disregard for the public by attacking voters who may find details on the crime informative and/or useful, suggesting that they must be those (nasty?) UKIP supporters.
Does she think that by expressing her anger and concern at views held by a large proportion of the UK population that these views should be entirely ruled out of the public discourse? Might the public be left feeling that Mrs Bhatia’s comments go beyond fair criticism and umbrage at their having the temerity to think differently to her; to being derisory and outlining her perception that any voter who disagrees is to be regarded with contempt?
While the Liberal Democrats had a policy to move immigrants from the overcrowded cities into rural areas such as the Borders at the last general election, can we really be expected to hear from Mrs Bhatia that any comments or concerns voters may have on unrestricted immigration (from the EU or elsewhere) should be classified as hysterical ranting on the part of UKIP or ordinary voters such as myself. Or that any of us who reasonably suggest that anxiety on unrestricted migration and the loss of border control here in the UK have a legitimate and non-racist justification for our position?
What I find most shocking in this insidious attack on voters who have genuine anxieties on the unrestricted immigration we are experiencing is the level of personal animus from Mrs Bhatia, something I believe is beyond the bounds of rational argument as she seeks to restrict the limits of acceptable debate in a free society.
While I do not speak for UKIP, I understand its historical stance on immigration to be inclusive, with a diverse approach based upon the Australian points system.
This approach protects jobs for local workers as it promotes immigration to areas of need within the economy, avoiding unemployment and the undercutting of wages that we have seen from incoming workers in parts of the United Kingdom. I can see what causes workers to question why the Liberal Democrats (like the Conservatives, SNP and Labour) are not supportive of our local workforce in this respect, instead of simply rejecting the notion that perhaps the voters might actually be correct.
Claims of scaremongering will surely follow, but so far it has only been from those supporting unrestricted migration – not from those who question the logic of it in a legitimate, non-sectarian and non-racist way.
I sincerely believe that debate is to be welcomed, not scorned in what is still (for now at least) a free society and as a voter, I look forward to hearing the debates in less condescending tones.