OUR democracy is currently working relatively well. It’s proving robust, it’s functioning under duress, and it seems durable, at least for the time being. These are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the democratic system within which we all live.

That may sound wilfully counter-intuitive in the middle of the Brexit maelstrom – but it’s the stress-test of Brexit which is proving that our democracy is functioning.

Democracy isn’t meant to be easy. It’s hard. That’s why throughout history it’s so rare. Yet, we’re complacent of democracy – we take it for granted, we see any pressure applied to it as a sign of weakness.

A good democracy should be a punchbag – a crash test dummy – it should be able to endure all manner of anti-democratic blows and attempts to kill it off, and then spring back, more robust than ever.

This doesn’t mean our political system is working well – our political system and our democracy are two different things. The political system is the clothes that the body of our democracy wears. Those clothes can be thrown out and changed to fit the body better.

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If we audit our democracy – lift the hood and check all the different parts of the engine – we’ll see that while this sprocket certainly needs cleaned, and that gizmo should definitely be replaced, the overall machine is in decent order.

The most important part of our democracy that’s working is the checks and balances. The Commons has placed a huge check on the Prime Minister’s power by passing legislation to prevent a no deal Brexit. The legislature has done what’s required of it in a democracy and checked the executive.

The courts are currently doing exactly what they’re meant to do as well – independently upholding the law, and arbitrating the current stand-off between Parliament and the PM over prorogation. Whatever the Supreme Court decides, the judiciary will have fulfilled its role in a democracy.

Devolution has proved itself an important and functioning part of our democracy. The Scottish Parliament partly shaped the national conversation through Holyrood votes such as the rejection of a no-deal Brexit. The Scottish and Welsh Parliaments passed joint motions on Brexit. The Good Friday Agreement and the Irish border have been the greatest democratic hurdle to Brexit.

Still, there’s a lot that doesn’t work in our democracy. Political parties have proved themselves unfit. Democracy is about competing powers working together. Our political parties have put themselves before country every step of the way. The stubbornness, laziness, stupidity and hypocrisy of our political class lies at the heart of the Brexit chaos. There was no attempt to find a collegiate, cross-bench, adult solution to the Brexit dilemma. Prolonged crisis is the fault of our political parties – it isn’t the fault of democracy, nor a sign of democracy’s weakness.

The monarchy has shown itself to be entirely pointless. The Queen is nothing but a rubber stamp in a crown who does the prime minister’s bidding. She isn’t a head of state in any true sense – she’s no real power, she’s no check nor balance, she plays no actual role in our democracy beyond the ceremonial.

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The House of Lords and the honours system remain as firmly anti-democratic as ever. It hasn’t needed Brexit to show that an unelected second chamber fuelled by patronage is a deep democratic wound.

The fourth estate – the media – has had its triumphs and its disgraces. Without reporters acting as watchdogs against power in the public interest, citizens would have to sift the truth from political propaganda. However, headlines about saboteurs and enemies of the people leave many seeing the media as nothing but propaganda itself. Nevertheless, the press remains free to say what it pleases – which in itself is a hallmark of a functioning democracy. Just because you don’t like what the press says doesn’t mean democracy is dead. Our broadcasters remain an honest, dependable and well regulated source of information – unlike in many countries, including those which call themselves democracies.

The problems of the fourth estate mirror those of the people as a whole. Society tends to get the media it deserves. The people are split and fractious. English society is in a state of bloodless civil war, and Scotland is deeply divided over the Union. Northern Ireland fears a return to violence, and an independence movement is growing in Wales. Britain is sundered.

Yet, to date, we’ve had only one death due to this political crisis – the murder of Jo Cox MP by a far-right terrorist. Any death is a death too many – however, in a time when so much political discourse is angry and hateful we’ve managed to remain relatively peaceful and law-abiding. We live in an era of mass political protest, but mostly we’ve gone about our demonstrations peacefully. Harassment and intimidation have no place in a democracy, but citizens confronting politicians with honest anger do – and it’s healthy to see those grievances aired.

As a democracy we need to put up with venom, marches, lies, division – even hatred. A democracy doesn’t mean people have to be nice to each other. And certainly a democracy has to put up with anti-democratic elements, whether elected, in government, or on the streets, trying to undermine or even destroy it.

One of the biggest stains on our democracy is political funding. Boris Johnson’s multimillionaire pro-Brexit backer Crispin Odey has made a £300m bet in ‘short’ positions against British business. The hedge fund tycoon made millions betting against the pound after the EU referendum. Johnson got more than £600,000 in donations while running for Tory leader, including £10,000 from Odey.

Maybe fixing political funding is a place to begin when it comes to addressing the problems of our democracy. Maybe there should be more emphasis on civics in education – so everyone understands democracy. Maybe a real discussion should begin about the monarchy’s role and the need for a functioning head of state.

Maybe we need to symbolically begin changing things by dragging our democracy into the 21st century – a start would be getting rid of all that ermine and medieval tradition. Let’s make our democracy fit for purpose now – not for when Dick Whittington was a lad.

The most needed change, though – once the Brexit hell abates, and we can survey what state our democracy has been left in – is a written constitution. No nation can be sure of the strength of its democracy when the principles of that democracy are not written down so they can be read, understood and upheld by every citizen in the land.

Neil Mackay is Scotland’s Columnist of the Year