Could today be the death of democracy?


It might seem strange to pose this question on the day of a referendum, surely the most democratic mechanism we could possibly have in our country. But let me explain my own personal situation.

I have been a life long Conservative voter. I have played a significant role in several General Election campaigns, both locally and nationally. I have stood for the Conservatives in local elections. I am a Tory through and through.

But I am also a Europhile.

I accept that the European Union is not perfect, but I believe that Great Britain is made greater by our membership of the EU.

I am proud to be a European and love the freedom I have to go anywhere, live anywhere, work anywhere within our great continent.

And if Britain votes to leave the EU today, I’m not sure how I could ever forgive the Conservative Party for bringing this upon our country. I’m not sure how I could ever respect David Cameron for promising a referendum that I don’t believe he wanted simply to win a few extra votes in the last General Election. I certainly have lost all respect I ever had for Boris Johnson (whom I staunchly defended to friends whilst he was Mayor of London). I feel betrayed by Michael Gove (whom I defended in the face of violent physical threats from militant teaching union members).

I’m not sure how I could ever bring myself to vote for the party I love if Britain votes for Brexit today. A party who will have casually thrown away our membership of one of the greatest supranational organisations in the world.

I would, however, find myself in the same position as moderate Labour supporters who find themselves pondering how they could vote for a party led by the hard line left winger Jeremy Corbyn.

I would find myself in the same position as Liberal Democrats who still resent Nick Clegg going into coalition with the Conservatives, seemingly willingly discarding some of their key principles for a taste of power.

I can’t be the only Conservative Europhile who feels this way.

So how would these people vote if there was a General Election tomorrow? Who knows.

Who would I vote for (a) if Britain votes Brexit and (b) if there was a General Election tomorrow? I have no idea.

What happens to British democracy when the political parties’ core supporters feel unable to support their parties? When the activists can’t bring themselves to campaign for their parties? That’s the great unknown.

But it doesn’t look good for democracy.