chapter  5
Pages 18

British film censorship is ultimately derived from parliamentary sovereignty, the basic constitutional doctrine that parliament passes laws irreversible in any court. This all-embracing doctrine itself is based upon a tradition of government and politics as the prerogatives of an elitist, educated, privileged, and trustworthy few who know best what is appropriate for the common, ill-educated, inarticulate, and untrustworthy many. From this viewpoint the general public should be involved, if at all, only when those in government judge it is the best time to divulge decisions already taken. The logic of this notion, the legacy of earlier ages when education and property-owning were for a tiny minority and mass ignorance was the order of the day, has been steadily eroded by twentiethcentury political and social developments. The extension of the vote to the majority of the adult population for the first time in 1918, the expansion of education and property-owning, particularly since 1945, and the growing importance of the visual mass media have progressively rendered suspect hierarchical decision-making as bolstered by parliamentary sovereignty.