Dean’s Lecture – Prof. AC Grayling

Just a quick note to mention that yesterday evening I attended the annual Dean’s Lecture in the Faculty of Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy at Maynooth University. This year it was delivered by the renowned philosopher Professor A.C .Grayling and was on the subject of The Meaning of Brexit for the ‘Westminster Model’ and the Future of Democracy. It was a fascinating talk, that involved a historical survey of the development of Parliamentary democracy in the UK (and elsewhere) in the light of the ongoing Brexit fiasco, ending with the case for a `People’s Vote’ as the only likely way out of the current impasse.

You can find a longer review of the lecture by a fellow Maynooth blogger here.

It was also pleasant to have the chance to have a brief chat with the speaker over a glass of wine at a reception after the lecture. Professor Grayling seems a very nice chap! I just wish I shared his optimism. I hope I’m proved wrong, but I fear that things are going to get very nasty in Britain very soon.

11 Responses to “Dean’s Lecture – Prof. AC Grayling”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Grayling forgets that there *was* a “people’s vote”. I support another referendum on what sort of Brexit to enact, though – whether to come out on March 29th accepting or rejecting the terms we finalise with Brussels by a certain date (the meanwhile preparing for either eventuality). That would concentrate minds on both sides of the negotiating table very well.

    Did he major on the 17th century as the birth of Britain’s modern democratic system, with the franchise gradually extended to more categories of person subsequently? Or mention that OMOV was first proposed by the radicals in Cromwell’s army in the epochal Putney debates?

    • telescoper Says:

      I don’t think there will be a negotiated exit deal, and if I’m right the only possible referendum question would be to crash out or remain in the EU.
      The Putney debates played a big part in the talk, yes, but he started way further back with Plato’s critique of democracy.

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    I attended a lecture in London by A. C. Grayling about Brexit back in June. I was very impressed by his certainty that the United Kingdom will not leave the European Union, but do not share that certainty. I feel that the UK is likely to leave despite the illogicality and chaos of UK policy.

    • telescoper Says:

      The invoking of Article 50 means that the UK leaves automatically by operation of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2019. I don’t see any way that won’t happen. I also don’t see any way the UK and its political system will survive intact, as this debacle has exposed glaring inadequacies in governance.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        Yes. It is likely there will not a majority in the House of Commons for any option. Theresa May appears to be hoping to reach an agreement with the European Union for the UK’s departure, and then to get that through the Commons with support across all parties given the threat that the alternative is the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal. That may not happen.

        On the other hand, many of us hope that a failure to reach an agreement with the EU, or a failure to get support from the Commons for an agreement, will lead to a parliamentary majority for a referendum on the final leave policy, with remaining a full member state as the alternative.

        The departure of the UK from the EU will break the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a state, either through independence for Scotland or Irish reunification or both.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The contingencies are so great that nobody can make statements like that with any confidence.

      • Bryn Jones Says:

        I think we can.

  3. What we need is a Constitution! Something that sets down basic principles and rules for making major (i.e. constitutional) changes. Two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament, or in Parliament supported by a referendum, or in Parlaiment plus all nations within a Federal UK (4, or possibly more if the North and South West were to regain local democracy).

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