We, the people.
If the phrase sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it forms the preamble to the Constitution of the United States; a constitution that pledges, among other things, tranquillity, justice, common defence and ‘the blessings of liberty’.
These are unarguably ‘good things’. And at their heart lies, as Abraham Lincoln later put it, ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’.
But, across the West, and notably here in Britain, the notion of ‘the people’ itself has become a toxic one. For many among the ruling elite, among some journalists and among academics, ‘people’ is only a short step from ‘populism’ or, as it used to be known, ‘democracy’. A democracy which demanded that its representatives and institutions reflect the concerns, beliefs and needs of its voters and that freely expressing those arguments was an inherent right, enshrined by law. A right marking a country like ours as different from places in the world which we once knew as dictatorships or totalitarian regimes.
'It’s a free country, isn’t it?’ We used to assert. Now the emphasis is more on the question than the fact.
There is, in other words, a rupture between the people and the elite. And one that We, The People would like to help fix. Take Brexit for example. Whether one believes in it or not, is not the point. There are entirely honourable arguments in favour both of Leave and Remain. But in this country, all four major political parties (including the SNP in Scotland) supported Remain and the government spent considerable sums of public money in so doing.
Representatives of almost every major institution both here and abroad were similar in expressing their unanimity of opposition to Britain voting to leave the European Union.
Their response to defeat has been less to learn from the concerns that produced the result but to resist and to repeat ad infinitum the wrongness of the decision and to sneer at and angrily deride those who made it. In other words, ‘the people’. The lack of humility in the face of the people is striking.
One can look to many other areas of life in Britain to see the same arrogant contempt for those who do not share the beliefs of the liberal metropolitan elite. The ability to express dissent on their world view is increasingly shut down either by force of law, the shrieking sanctimony of social media, or overt threats to one’s studies, job or business.
The workers of the world may have failed to unite but the elite have.
So, who speaks for the people?
If you are a doctor, an accountant, a farmer or a teacher, there are pressure groups, professional bodies and trade unions that speak out on your behalf. But who speaks out on your behalf if you’re an ordinary member of the public?
If you are just an ordinary member of public, you are on your own. You have no voice, nobody to represent you on TV and the radio, nobody to express your concerns to government, nobody to explain to the powers that be that the latest regulation, tax or gimmick from Whitehall or Brussels will merely make your life even harder.
Britain is in urgent need of a savvy, hard-hitting campaign that speaks up for ordinary people.
So, welcome to We, The People, Britain's grassroots campaigning group dedicated to giving a voice to ordinary members of the public.
This is not party political. Ours is a topsy-turvy time when all the major parties seem to have lost broad relevance.
Elsewhere, too many of our governing classes, institutions and quangos give the impression that they act not for the people, by the people but because they are inherently cleverer and worthier than those who elect and pay for them.
And this is the point of We, the People. It’s to remind the liberal metropolitan elite of the ‘other Britain’ and to remind them that democracies rely on the legitimacy bestowed on our ruling class by those they rule. It is to remind them of the views and aspirations of that other Britain and to acknowledge the right to express them, as true liberalism demands.
It is not about gratuitous offence nor is it do with demanding slavish conformity to any one set of opinions. Rather it is demand due respect for the views, desires and experiences of others, to remind them of what those views might be and to see them duly reflected in the public discussion. In other words, we, the people would like to enjoy ‘the blessings of liberty’.