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Democracy? You think you know?
Democracy? You think you know?

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5 Who are the real democrats?

5.1 A story of fox hunting

Democracy is a thing, a practice. It is also a word – a powerful one, politically, because we all think it is a good thing. When people take part in politics, they try to claim that ‘democracy’ is on their side, and not on that of their opponents.

In November 2004, pro-hunting protesters breached House of Commons security and broke into the chamber to disrupt the debate on banning fox hunting. As a significant minority group, passionately committed to the cause of continuing hunting, the Countryside Alliance and others feel that democracy is on their side – minority rights and freedoms are vital to democracy, they say, and street demonstrations and even civil disobedience against undemocratic laws are a democratic mechanism.

Who is right? The answer is a shade of grey rather than black and white. Democracy is generally accepted to be about both majority rule and minority rights, and sometimes striking a balance is difficult.

Activity 4

Pupils could be asked to read some of this material, pro and con, with an eye to the types of arguments the different sides offer, especially ones that invoke ‘democracy’.