How Does Direct Action Undermine Democracy in the Uk?
Democracy, a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy in west is what makes Britain and other countries appealing to those living in countries without it, meaning it is important to uphold the laws of democracy so that a potentially fragile system does not crumble under social pressures and movements. Some argue that direct action is a right, coinciding with freedom within democracy, and feel it is the only way in this day and age they are able to get their point across.
When HACAN’s chairman, John Stewart, defended the actions of members of his group engaging in direct action, he said “I think our members feel they have done everything they can through the conventional campaigning process. ” “This new approach has been made possible”, he argues, by the Countryside Alliance, which has made “direct action fairly acceptable to people who would consider themselves law-abiding”. Like the extract highlights many pressure groups use ‘high profile, mass protests and stunts as a way of getting their message across’ this is because they feel it is the most effective way.
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However on the other hand there are arguments that suggest direct action undermines democracy in the UK; it argues the civil disobedience creates an unstable, heavily socially manipulated government From a legal point of view, many sides of direct action are illegal, Examples of violent illegal direct action include: destruction of property, rioting, terrorism, political assassination, graffiti etc. It is these forms of direct action that leads members of the public to believe that direct action could be breaking down democracy.
If, as a nation, the public do not abide by the legislation of the government then the system could be seen as weak and irrelevant. Lord Soley, Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party. In office 1 May 1997 – 11 July 2001 argues “They don’t know if they are a majority. They may actually be a minority,” in reference to protesters who take part in direct action. He argues direct action is dangerous as people who make the loudest noise will get their way, regardless of the strength of their argument.
So a group representing a cause/issue that may not align with views of the rest of the nation may change policies which only benefit them and not the rest of the country. This highlights another danger of direct action; it has the ability to manipulate a government into changing its policies and to alter its position on certain matters. This means that a democratic government, the supposed ‘voice of the people’ is now reformed into a government run by a certain group of people.
Which, without using post-hoc reasoning or over- dramatizing the situation, could easily be the leading factor that breaks the democracy into a dictatorship. This was the case, similarly in WWII. Germany was overthrown by one group forcing their views with direct action, 1933, Hitler got an ‘Enabling act’ passed which would allow him to pass laws without consulting the Reichstag or the president, and this would allow him to form a dictatorship.
He managed to get the act past by having Nazi and SA support surrounding the Reichstag at the time of decision pressuring the powers to pass the policy with violence and intimidation. Those who fear a dictatorship in Britain tend to argue this case and believe that direct action would break down the authority and legitimacy of the government meaning the nation would be falling down a ‘slippery slope’ towards a corrupt government with no legislation or respect for laws.
However some feel that direct action is the most effective way to get their point across and feel if they were not to take drastic action their pleas would be ignored by the government. A few outsider pressure groups feel bitter towards the government as they feel their views are not being properly represented so act against laws to get attention from policy makers. But it is important to not upsets the balance between having a voice and freedom of speech and disrupting the fragile system of democracy.