There is a certain attitude of anti-politics and anti-politicians about at the moment, no doubt partly fuelled by the Brexit furore.

The expenses scandal of a few years ago did irreparable damage to the reputation of politicians. A system devised during Margaret Thatcher’s period in power to ensure that politicians were paid more, only via devices like expenses rather than the more visible - and headline grabbing - basic salary increases.

The system invited abuse and got it. At the time of the expenses scandal, the political class was in retreat, attacked on all sides in the media – in most cases, rightly so.

The lasting legacy of that period, never properly put to rest, is that all politicians are on the take. This is unfair, most politicians are diligent, hard-working individuals, doing the job for the right reasons.

The failure of government to listen to huge numbers of people opposed to the Iraq War, then the austerity agenda of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition, making some of the poorest in society pay for the bankers excess during the financial crisis of 2008, all contributed to the democratic deficit – a lack of belief in the system to deliver or them.

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This dissatisfaction then manifested itself in the Brexit vote of 2016.

The fact that the issue of the EU was not a matter of public concern at all in the years leading up to the referendum. Brexit was a crisis made and continued by the Conservative Party.

It has now reached the ridiculous stage of some of the same people who parroted phrases like taking back control and restoring sovereignty, threatening in government to defy the law of the land and stop Parliament fulfilling its democratic role.

So why is democracy so important, why did so many people suffer down the years to get the vote?

Put very simply, democracy gives everyone a say of some sort over how their lives are run. At local level, this means politicians, able to decide what happens in the area regarding people services and livelihoods but always accountable to the people.

If the politicians are not doing what the people want they can kick them out at the next election. The same principle applies to MPs. Without these democratic structures, people would have no say at all.

The biggest players in the jungle, like multinational corporations, could just do as they liked, there would be no hope of regulating or controlling them. The removal of democracy would result in a return to a middle ages type society, with just the biggest gang (usually the king or queen’s) ruling absolutely, without any control from ordinary people over what they did. And guess what, what they did was very rarely for the common good of the people?

So it is this precious power to have a say in our own lives and destinies that is at stake when the democratic system gets trashed, as it seems to be so often today.

The system is not perfect, with the processes involved in getting elected via the different party structures not always bringing forward truly representative individuals. Nor does it often bring forward the brightest and best in our society. However, at the moment it is the best we have.

All could quite easily be wiped away in an instant. It is frightening how close we could be to that moment at present, with a Prime Minister prepared to defy the law and stir the mob.

What is needed is for more people to engage on the issues. People from all walks of life need to get involved in the political process.

Comments like 'it makes no difference, they are all the same' and 'I’ve never voted', contribute nothing to the well-being of our country. Those who promote such apathy would do well the remember the old adage that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Democracy is precious, a system that should give a say to all and that makes everyone accountable. A system that many people died for, it needs nurturing, not trashing on the altar of ignorance.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See