By Janet Mather
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Additional info for The European Union and British Democracy: Towards Convergence
The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty developed fully during the nineteenth century, by the end of which the notion of the supremacy of Parliament had a status exceeding that of statutory law. Interestingly, though, as Dicey [1915 p 456] points out, this too, is a convention rather than an institutional part of the law. It could not be otherwise, where there is no encoded constitution. Hence Britain is governed by a Parliament which is agreed to be sovereign at least since the reign of Queen Anne.
Locke argues that if popular consent is withdrawn a government must fall but he does not accept that people have the right to limit abuse of power. He argues first [1986 p 227] that it is a failure of authority rather than power violation per se which may bring about the downfall of government and second [ibid p 229] that abuse of power is the equivalent of breach of contract. Locke's aim is to maximise freedom for individuals and his only use for collective power is as a vehicle to achieve this.
The emergence of the democratic personality, according to this premise, provides a solution both for democracy and for government. The preconditions for direct and effective popular participation are then set. Society has become sufficiently homogeneous in its commitment to democracy and its citizens are sufficiently politically motivated and skilled to devote their energies to a government which will not only serve their interests but also provide one of their main raisons d'etre. There will be no artificial separation between state and society; each individual will be a unit making up the organism of society and will so regard her/himself The desirability of this proposition has been contested.