God bless America – and good luck

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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By the time you read this column America will have a new president and the world could be a very different place.

The new leader of the free world will either be a woman with an email fetish, mired in scandal and controversy, or a man mired in scandal and controversy, who some fear could start World War Three.

For many Americans it wasn’t much of a choice and many will have voted whilst holding their nose.

America is a democracy of sorts but when your system throws up two candidates who so many, even in their own party, can’t stand, it doesn’t paint that system in a very good light.

In theory, anybody in America can become president but in reality it takes money, and lots of it, to get anywhere near the oval office.

That often comes with strings attached and influences policy and decision making for years to come, despite a candidate’s best intentions.

But is our version of democracy any better?

Granted, the system we have doesn’t tend to throw up old film stars and joke figures, with hair that has a mind of its own, but ‘the oldest democracy in the world’ is hardly open to all.

Without a party machine behind you there is virtually no chance of you being elected as an MP and even when you elect those that you think will do your bidding, often their priorities change once they get to the big house.

Some constituencies are so overwhelmingly biased towards a particular party that it is hardly worth you turning out to vote for the opposing candidate; Jeremy Corbyn could offer free lentils for all and a ban on the wearing of socks with sandals in summer but Labour will never win in north west Cambridgeshire.

Maybe the only true form of democracy is a referendum, where the people’s voice is genuinely heard.

But even that system is open to challenge, as the High Court proved, by ruling that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, despite the majority of people in this country voting to leave.

This leaves some MPs, especially in Cambridgeshire, in a predicament -

Go with democracy and respect the result, or in some cases, go with their constituents who voted to remain.

But what state would our democracy be in if MPs voted against the will of the people and somehow derailed the process of leaving the European union?

In the short term it might stabilise exchange rates and help bring down the price of petrol and Marmite but at what cost to society?

I voted remain and I know the vast majority of MPs did too but we have to move on and make Brexit work as best we can.

Despite any misgivings that we may have about the outcome or the effect it could have on the future of our country, we have to respect the result and lose well.

Our democracy may not be perfect but it is the system that we all signed up to and must be upheld.

It cannot be denied, that way lies anarchy.