|Thursday, January 1, 2004
21:45 - "The people have spoken... the bastards."
I've never seen a more perfect line from the mouth of a statist lawmaker.
The BBC recently gave its radio listeners a chance to express their will, but did not want to hear the result. The great unwashed mass, who cough-up the license fees which pay the Beeb’s freight, were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books.
Listeners to BBC 4’s Today program (the very same show which claimed that intelligence on Iraqi WMDs had been “sexed up”), reposnded with a suggestion that would allow homeowners to defend themselves against intruders, without facing legal liabilities. The winning proposal was denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation" - by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.
The Independent reports that Mr Pound's reaction was provoked by the news that the winner of Today's "Listeners' Law" poll was a plan to allow homeowners "to use any means to defend their home from intruders" - a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.
"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."
Having recovered his composure, Mr Pound told The Independent: "We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of Radio 4. I would have expected this result if there had been a poll in The Sun. Do we really want a law that says you can slaughter anyone who climbs in your window?"
Memo to Britain: Yes.
I know you're a much more mature and dignified nation than we upstarts across the pond, and we colonists, we cowboyish teenager of a country, mustn't presume to lecture you on what a democracy is.
But perhaps your people can explain it to you.
UPDATE: Lest I be accused of Dowdification, I should point out that Pound's actual quote was this:
"My enthusiasm for direct democracy is slightly dampened," the MP told Today. "This is a difficult result. I can't remember who it was who said 'The people have spoken - the bastards'."
But I don't think this context changes the meaning as much as some people say it does. By couching the quip as an extant witticism that he's merely quoting, all Pound is doing is trying to deflect criticism from people alarmed at the directness of his language. He can say, "But I didn't actually mean that-- I was just echoing an aphorism I heard someone say once, as a way of exaggerating my own point!" But he's still saying the same thing. He'd have said the bare words himself if he weren't worried that the microphones were on.