Today is Blog Action Day and HelpGov is taking part for the third year running.
As a believer in the just-in-time philosophy as a way to do work I have followed my traditional course of only thinking about what I’d write at the last minute.
And not for the first time I had my Eureka moment in the shower this morning as BBC radio news reported that UK prime minister David Cameron and Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond were meeting today to agree the terms of a referendum to be held on Scottish independence.
Those of you who’ve dipped in to the HelpGov blog before may have picked up that I have a view on the subject. But that’s not for now.
And the ‘We’ of this post are not Dave and Alex.
The point is that they are both elected leaders in a democratic system and they both have a mandate from the electorate to pursue certain policies.
In both cases you could argue it’s an imperfect mandate – electoral turnout, proportion of the population who voted for their party, for Cameron the indeterminate result of the last UK general election and the resulting coalition.
But who said it was perfect?
Not Winston Churchill, who famously wrote
It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
Or even British novelist E M Forster, who wrote a book of essays called Two Cheers for Democracy.
The United States constitution famously begins
We the People
Of course it could have gone on to say ‘We the People, in all our messy, fractious, indifferent and sometimes hostile ways…’
But as a justification for political action democracy is as good as it gets for me.
That’s why Norway was able to separate from Sweden without a war. Why the Czech and Slovak Republics formed themselves from the former Czechoslovakia peacefully. Why Quebec decided that, on balance, it wanted to remain part of Canada.
And why in those countries the results of the political decisions were accepted by the vast majority of the people concerned.
It’s the power of the democratic ‘We.’
The same will be true when Scotland holds its referendum on independence in 2014 – whatever the result.