It is generally agreed that liberal democracies are based on four main principles:
• A belief in the individual: since the individual is believed to be both moral and rational;
• A belief in reason and progress: based on the belief that growth and development is the natural condition of mankind and politics the art of compromise;
• A belief in a society that is consensual: based on a desire for order and co-operation not disorder and conflict;
• A belief in shared power: based on a suspicion of concentrated power (whether by individuals, groups or governments).
So many people mistakenly think that in our democracy that not only should they get what they want but that everyone should agree they should have it.
What’s missing there is tolerance. When a law is determined in our democracy but I don’t agree that it should be passed then I have to behave according to that law. For example, a smoker might not like a law preventing them from smoking in an enclosed space but they are obliged to obey the law. Of course, they are also free to object to the law and protest against it, argue against it agitate against it. Non-smokers will have got what they want; non-smokers need not agree they should have done so.