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.
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’.