When British politicians begin to spout a lot of empty rhetoric about “democracy”, it is a sure and certain sign that an election campaign is under way and that the weasels who have spent five years defying the public will and destroying the country are groping for a mantra to distract attention from their criminal mismanagement. “Democracy”, as a cynical slogan rather than a political reality, is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

In Britain, the ideal of popular representation has always been in conflict with the two-party system, inherited from the 17th-century dichotomy between Whig and Tory. However, throughout their tenure of power from 1951 to 1964, the Conservatives left in place the institutions and practices that were the legacy of the Attlee government; this initiated the “leftwards ratchet” historical process, whereby Labour governments introduced radical changes that subsequent Conservative governments perpetuated, simply treading water during their incumbencies, thus ensuring, over decades, a relentless leftwards drift in society.