A leader in the Daily Telegraph yesterday exposed one of the deep seated flaws of our parliamentary system. It called for MPs to be allowed to decide laws on moral issues, in this instance whether people should be allowed to aid those ending their life. This is in light of the Law Lords asking the Director of Public Prosecutions to clarify the existing legislation on assisted suicide and the Telegraph fearing that the drawn up guidelines would in fact create new law.
The Telegraph recognises the fact that Parliament has spoken on this issue, with the rejection three years ago of Lord Joffe’s Euthanasia Bill and just recently Lord Falconer’s amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill. Calls for an adjournment debate following the summer recess, despite Parliament’s continual ignoring of the public, are naive. The public’s feelings towards assisted suicide/euthanasia have remained constantly in favour of it over the past few years. With over 65% of people in a variety of surveys wanting to see non-prosecution of those that assist others; as well as being legally able to undertake medicinal euthanasia should they so choose. Demanding MPs act and decide what the law should be exposes the democratic deficit in relation to morality: namely that MPs would mostly likely vote based on their own morality/values. Thus negating their constituents views and exhibiting a truly Platonic approach to governing, as can be seen by Nadine Dorries upcoming campaign, ensuring that a mature approach to euthanasia isn’t taken.
An MP is not instantly elevated to the Heavens and instilled with divine wisdom upon election. And they are unlikely to pack the chamber out during the debate (at most you would probably see around 75-100 discussing this issue). MPs are human like the rest of us, and while they should discuss this issue the outcome should represent the will of the people. It should not be the view of the narrow out-of-touch minority that sit on the green benches in the Commons. Asking MPs to make value based morality judgements is akin to asking a professional car thief to valet park your car.