This is how to respect the referendum result

I am frequently told that, as a “Remoaner” I must “respect” the result of the referendum. It seems to me that I am not being asked to respect it so much as to fetishise it.

Actually, I do respect it. I respect it for what it was – an advisory vote won by a wafer thin majority based on a mountain of lies.

Then, because I say that, I am criticised (virulently quite often) for being undemocratic and for not respecting the will of the people. And many people who did not vote Leave, and do not want to leave, seem to have accepted the line that the vote has happened and they must “respect” it.

But democracy is so much more than a single vote.

Generally speaking electoral votes stand, even if the majority is unsatisfactory. But that is premised on two conditions.  The first is that the voters get a chance regularly to change their minds. The second is that the voters were – at least relatively – well informed about the subject of their vote. All sides make their offers clear, and the media do a proper job of examining their claims.

Neither of these conditions applies to the referendum vote. There will not be a chance to change our minds about this one. Once we leave the EU, we will not be in a position to get back in for a considerable time. And if we do decide that rejoining might be nice, the conditions to rejoin will be the same as a new joiner, including having to join the Euro, which I do not see happening. So effectively, leaving the EU sets Britain’s course for at least a couple of generations. This vote is not sufficient basis for such a momentous and long term decision.

And the voters were seriously misinformed about what leaving meant. I blame both campaigns and the media for this. The Remain campaign was feeble, the most disorganised and ineffective campaign I have seen in British politics. Even Labour’s 1983 election campaign did not plumb the depths of this one. The Leave campaign was based on deliberate and sustained mendacity from start to finish.

The media failed completely to do the job they are required to do in a democracy. We do not have a free press in this country. We have a commercial press, which conforms to the requirements of its overseas owners, not the needs of the British public. Half the press amplified the Leave campaign’s lies; the other half failed to hold them up to scrutiny. In addition to that half the press has spent around the last twenty years softening the public up for this vote with an even longer sustained campaign of lies about the EU (in which Boris Johnson was a prime, and utterly dishonest, mover).

That is why I claim to be completely democratic in regarding this vote as inconclusive and this fight as unfinished (just as Nigel Farage was going to). To do anything differently would be undemocratic.

* Rob Parsons is a Lib Dem member in Lewes. He blogs at http://acomfortableplace.blogspot.co.uk

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162 Comments

  • Peter Chambers 7th Jan '17 - 11:30am

    +1

  • The argument that voters aren’t informed enough could apply to any election though.

    How many people vote Labour because they think it “looks after the working man”, but would be utterly opposed to the globalisation promoted by Blair?

    How many people vote Tory because they are “patriots who believe in the flag, family and forces”, and yet would be utterly disgusted by the deference to the Chinese and Saudi governments?

    How many people vote UKIP to “take the country back to the people”, and yet would be concerned with the pro corporate positions of Roger Helmer and others?

    Calling the voters ignorant will lead to more Trumps, more Brexits (and possibly more Corbyns).

  • To add to above I agree about the press being inaccurate. But they have equally spoken as much rubbish and half truths about Farage and Corbyn too. And they have generally kept quiet about some of the worst corporate aspects of the EU such as TISA.

  • Venetia Caine 7th Jan '17 - 11:41am

    Is it not therefore about time that we, as a party, said that we do NOT respect the result of the referendum, on the following grounds:
    1. The majority of those who troubled to vote was wafer thin;
    2. Information on both sides was dismally lacking;
    3. Information on both sides was, er, erroneous;
    3. There is evidence that many who vote to leave have now changed their minds;
    4. The vote was not a reflection of the majority of the people.
    Etc.
    This matter is far too important to play polite respect to so-called democracy, especially when it wasn’t. We need to put our money where our mouth is and come out fighting.

  • A fully democratic referendum would have allowed all British citizens living abroad a vote.
    Even if a British person lives overseas for many years they still have family and friends in the UK. Connections for many remain strong.

  • Graham Jeffs 7th Jan '17 - 11:57am

    Rob: thank you for saying this.

  • Peter Davies 7th Jan '17 - 11:58am

    The dishonesty went way beyond that in Oldham where we got the result overturned. The referendum should be rerun with both Leave and Remain banned from the ballot paper.

  • jedibeeftrix 7th Jan '17 - 12:04pm

    “A fully democratic referendum would have allowed all British citizens living abroad a vote.”

    A ‘fully’ democratic referendum is whatever referendum meets the laws and mores that result from the wish of british society.

    If laws and mores are comfortable with general elections putting a 15 year (?) limit on expat voting, and has not made an exception (legal or otherwise) to distinguish referendums, why should we get upset when a referendum is conducted on the same basis?

  • There is no moral sense in which the referendum was merely “advisory”. The government posted a leaflet to every household in the country telling them that this was their opportunity to decide whether we stay in the EU or not. Everybody understood what the vote was about.

    I voted Remain but I accept the result. I wish remainers would snap out of this denial phase and start concentrating on the things that matter, such as arguing for the best kind of post-EU Britain we can get come April 1st 2019. At the moment, the Tories will shape our post-EU future alone, because they are the only party who accept it is going to happen.

  • David Evershed 7th Jan '17 - 12:29pm

    In view of the above points, I propose we remove the word Democrat from the party name.

  • ethicsgradient 7th Jan '17 - 12:31pm

    lets have a re-run of the referendum. I would be happy with this. The reason is because we would get the same result. I am sure we would see and increased vote to leave (economy has not crashed immediately as predicted combined the anger all the leave voters would feel with their original decision not being listened to and being forced to vote again).

    I feel your own bias and non-acceptance of the result defines your article. You have every right to say this (and i am not going to criticize you for holding your view or call you undemocratic, I will challenge your argument though) however I think you mis-read how the public saw the referendum campaigns and the conclusions they came to.

    My view is the general public saw both campaigns as ‘a plague on both your houses@. Both sides gave exaggerated versions of arguments. On the one side the £350M claim was an exaggeration of the argument that we send huge amounts of money to the EU and where does it go?/it gets wasted!.. The predictions of being £4300 worse off was an exaggeration of the argument that the country might be economically worse off after voting to leave.

    The public are not thick (no matter what some people to make out). The media was fairly evenly split (remain: Times, Guardian, mirror, Indi, FT leave, Telegraph, mail, Sun, express), The public thought “both sides are talking nonsense, we could do with more money for the NHS, we need to control our boarders and we should be free to make our own rules and decisions”… “it won’t be economic Armageddon, it won’t be the end of western civilization and it won’t be starting WW3″…. ” I’m voting to leave”

    I think this is broadly what happened. the public were not duped, those that voted to leave knew what they were voting for. There has not been any vote-leave regret. there is not a “they did not know what they were doing, they made a mistake, they will change their mind.

    To repeat my first statement, people voted to leave and would vote to leave again.

  • Michael Kingsnorth 7th Jan '17 - 12:42pm

    I totally agree with this article. Period!

  • ethicsgradient 7th Jan '17 - 12:44pm

    Hi just to add

    “Actually, I do respect it. I respect it for what it was – an advisory vote won by a wafer thin majority based on a mountain of lies.”

    I think this line shows your unintentional bias.

    It is only after the vote that the idea that it was advisory has cropped up. In truth both sides campaigned both during the 3 months and in truth from the January that the referendum would be a binding decision. The government pamphlet also stated that “the government will implement what you decide”. It is a cheap argument to now state it was “only advisory” when everyone for those campaigning to the general public took as being a binding decision.

    The result although close was not wafer thin. A difference of 1.34 million votes. This is not a few 1000 disputed ballot papers.

  • Whilst agreeing with almost everything you write, sadly, our democracy IS one vote…

    The one vote that enabled Thatcher to sell off almost everything in public ownership..
    The one vote that allowed Blair to invade Iraq..

    We can no more reverse the ‘Brexit’ vote than take back council homes or undo Iraq..

    What price democracy if we ignored the vote, stayed in Europe and outside forces (financial or political) caused a fragmentation/breakdown of the EU?

  • Ethics
    As Britain does not have a codified constitution no referendum can amend it. Referendums in Britain are advisory.

  • ethicsgradient 7th Jan '17 - 1:10pm

    @Manfarang

    I am not disagreeing with the legal point you make. The point I am making is that all the campaigners, participants and voters treated this/took this as vote whose result would be enacted (binding). There was not one mention of this only be an advisory vote before people voted. Only a few days after.

    to use an old adage

    ” if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck!”

    It looked like a binding referendum, everyone treated as a binding referendum, everyone voted expecting the government to implement the decision… ergo its a binding referendum (in all but name)…. plus see what reaction you get when you tell 17.5 million people who voted to leave …. ” ahh, sorry everyone, your vote doesn’t count, it was only advisory”…. lets just say it would be interesting.

  • Arnold Kiel 7th Jan '17 - 1:23pm

    Dear Rob, I agree 100% with you. My procedural conclusion is that responsible MPs must block Brexit. Not because of the regrettable result, but because of the despicable process, which cannot be respected; it has proven that EU-membership is a question unfit for a referendum. The problem is: will enough MPs have the courage to do their job: act in the interest of the British people, not blindly following their misguided will.

  • @Ethicsgradient
    ‘To repeat my first statement, people voted to leave and would vote to leave again.’
    I wouldn’t be too sure about that. I think a lot of the leave vote was pretty soft and a lot of people who took a remain vote for granted would be more motivated.
    But at the end of the day it is how to justify, with any credibility, a second vote.
    It looks like the EU is not motivated to adjust it’s terms to justify a second consideration of our membership.
    So where we are is where we are.

  • To be honest, I think this is just grasping at straws and will die down once article 50 is triggered.

  • Paul Murray 7th Jan '17 - 1:36pm

    The pro-remain booklet sent to every household at taxpayers’ expense said this: “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide”.

    David Cameron on 23rd February 2016 said: “This is a decision that lasts for life. We make this decision and it is probably going to be the only time in our generation when we make this decision.”

    Paddy Ashdown on 23rd June 2016 on the TV referendum vote programme said: “I will forgive no one who does not respect the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken. Whether it is a majority of 1% of 20%, when the British people have spoken you do what they command. Either you believe in democracy or you do not.”

    But if you can salve the cognitive dissonance of being a “Democrat” who wants to ignore the result by saying it was only advisory, or that the majority was paper thin, or it was built on a mountain of untruths then go for it..

  • ethicsgradient 7th Jan '17 - 1:37pm

    @P. J.

    Hi, I accept my statement you quote is an opinion rather than a fact and you draw a different conclusion. I would be willing to have a £5 bet on a second referendum producing the same result. But I guess a 2nd referendum won’t happen…. (£5 …I’m not a gambling man, a gentleman wager if you wish).

    My thinking is based on not feeling or detecting any feeling of regret from leave voters (also borne out in the polling data) combined with the massive reaction if people were forced to vote again… It would simply confirm the accusation that the EU makes countries re-run votes until they get the ‘right’ result. The kick-back to the idea that the votes to leave were to be ignored… well unprecedented = increased vote leave %.

  • Nice sentiment, but we played and lost. It’s like asking for a rerun of the FA Cup Final because it was close, we didn’t play well and had an injured key player.

    We lost. I’m sorry. I voted remain, not because of any love for the EU but because of what it said about our country. But not enough stood with us. We lost.

  • Paul Murray’
    Thank you.

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Jan '17 - 1:41pm

    This business of binding referenda is a pointless red herring and I wish people would stop arguing about it. The people clearly mandated Parliament (not the government) to trigger article 50 and start the process of leaving with the intention of leaving. However the destination was not clear, with some like Dan Hannan arguing we could have a Norway-like deal, and others (Priti Patel on R4) “pledging” more money to the NHS from our contribution, and the abolition of VAT on fuel. I also think however it is pointless to keep complaining about the lies of the Leave campaign, especially since our Party can throw no stones over the breaking of pledges…

    As Rob says above, this is an irrevocable step, fixing all our paths for at least a generation if we leave. Whether the consequences are good or bad, the people who will face them for longest are the young, who either overwhelmingly voted Remain (with a good turnout of 64% before anyone puts the erroneous 36% out there again), or were even younger, and did not get to vote at all.

    It is at least 2.25 years until we will Leave the EU. Much might change in that time; the EU might change, the destination will be clear and may be much more extreme than most people thought, and public opinion might change in favour of Remain.

    In those circumstances it is perfectly democratic to propose another referendum to confirm the decision of the people. We should be clear that if people vote Leave again we will leave in short order and there will be no more referenda on Europe for a long time.

    David Evershed I am extremely disappointed that anyone in our Party should consider voting to be “undemocratic”. That comes from the same place as calling High Court Judges “enemies of the people”. The worst things you can say about another referendum are that in may not be possible (because it requires EU agreement) or it might be a waste of money (if public opinion has not changed as some on here prophesy). But if we had a referendum and people vote to Remain it will clearly have been the democratic thing to do.. The only reason Leavers are so strident about another referendum is because after 30 years of moaning about the EU they got people to vote their way on one particular day in June 2016. They are scared stiff that people may change their minds if given another chance.

  • ethicsgradient 7th Jan '17 - 1:51pm

    @Andrew McCaig

    A very reasoned comment. I agree with you; if the was some unforeseen significant change during the next 2 years and public opinion dramatically changed swinging in favour of remain, then as a leave-voter, i would be very supportive of a 2nd referendum to see where the country lay.

    I contend that there has not be such an event or any swing to remain so far. To justify a 2nd referendum it would need a sustained run of polling/movement of opinion (not sure how to describe a groundswell) clearly in favour of remain vote.

  • Ed Shepherd 7th Jan '17 - 1:55pm

    I think it is extremely hazardous to start telling those who voted in the referendum that they were gullible fools who were duped and that the referendum is meaningless anyway (i.e. not binding on the government). There would surely come a point where some angry voters might decide that if their votes don’t count then they are entitled to take other action. This would not necessarily end up in a situation of politically motivated homicides like Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s but might be like the situation in mainland Britiain in the 1970s and 1980s where strikes, aggressive protests and direct action become more common and could be stoked up by extremists. Who wants to go back to that kind of situation?

  • I don’t actually fear a 2nd referendum vote, I believe the result will be the same, actually i believe there would be a stronger vote for leave.
    The remain campaigners will not change their tact, they will still rely on project fear, doom and gloom, they will still rely on economists coming out with exaggerated forecasts even though those forecasts and economists have already been proven to have been wrong as admitted by the economists at the Bank of England who has now admitted that economists have a credibility problem.
    The public know that the economists were proven wrong before after the last referendum result and so will not believe their warnings again.
    I am pretty certain that those who voted leave last time will do so again but also a significant portion of the electorate who were soft remain voters last time and who believes in democracy, would be disgusted at the way democracy is being stifled and how the EU is behaving with its threats and would probably switch to leave this time.

    However this is all redundant posturing as I believe that once article 50 is triggered, there is no way back from that, after 2 years unless a deal is agreed or an extension to the time frame is agreed by EU member states, we will leave. There are no provisions for a 2nd referendum on the terms negotiated.
    The EU is not going to want to set a precedent where a member state can trigger article 50, start the process of leaving then withdraw article 50 if they dont get the deal they want. It would cause to much uncertainty for the EU and would give member states the ability to threatening to invoke article 50 every time they did not get something they wanted or a policy they did not agree with.
    A 2nd referendum is not going to happen, this is just posturing.

  • Its true that lies were told on both sides. The Remain camp told fewer but their big whopper was not to broadcast that this was an advisory referendum. The referendum was only possible because an act of parliament was passed, and who knows if that act would have passed if all the MPs voting had know that the word ‘advisory’ clearly included in the bill/act was going to be effectively ignored after the result?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Jan '17 - 2:13pm

    This is twaddle ! Well done David Evershed and ethicsgradient .

    Some of us shall fight to keep the flame of democracy alive in our party and it’s cause.

    You can be a Democrat without being a Liberal.
    You cannot be a Liberal without being a Democrat !

    Rob , unfortunately in the midst of some decent views , wraps it in a comfort blanket , comfy for his view , not for democracy , that makes the Democrats in our party very uncomfortable ! Which is most of us .

  • Well said Rob. It is the duty, yes the duty of every MP in the House to vote according to the best interests of Britain and the British people – and that would demonstrably be a vote against so-called Brexit. No matter what the referendum result.

  • To point out the obvious, if some politicians have mislead the public by – incorrectly – giving them the impression that the referendum was binding, when it was not, then the public has every right to be angry with them. That, though, does NOT make an advisory referendum a binding one.

    Need I point out that Boris Johnson was at one stage claiming that a vote Leave would strengthen the government’s hand to renegotiate better membership terms for us (with the EU)? Why should that claim about the meaning of a Leave result be ignored while the claims of other politicians be treated as sacrosanct? 🙂

  • jedibeeftrix 7th Jan '17 - 3:14pm

    Arnold – “Dear Rob, I agree 100% with you. My procedural conclusion is that responsible MPs must block Brexit.”

    With all due respect, that is easy for you to say. You won’t be left to mop up the viscera that would result from the electoral bloodbath resulting from a parliamentary attempt to bury the referendum result.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 3:19pm

    Jops 11.32 It was more than the voters being uninformed, and I am not accusing anyone of being ignorant. The referendum was characterised by disinformation on a massive scale, and unchallenged by the remain side. That was a significant difference from other camapigns I have experienced.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 3:19pm

    Stuart 12.24 and ethicsgradient 12.44 I disagree. The referendum was always and clearly legally advisory. It was morally speaking advisory. You cana rgue taht politically it is very difficult for Parliament not to do what the Leeave side want, largely becasue the leave side is so monumentally angry. But it is possible and it would be moral. I am not ina denial phase; the only denial is that I have been denied the right to a proper democratic process by a procedure which resulted in a win for the sie which shouted and shouted its lies at us in the cmapaign and in the media. I want my democracy back.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 3:20pm

    David 12.29 you’re just joking aren’t you. I made the case that my point of view is democratic. If you want to argue against me, please do, but you need to actually provide an argument.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 3:20pm

    Ethicsgradient 12.31 I agree there was strong element of a plague on both your hosues, and that was thoroughly deserved by our political calss. But leaving the EU is not the solution to those fel tproblems. i outlined what the response should be in another post: http://www.libdemvoice.org/what-i-really-wanted-to-hear-from-remain-52796.html.

    Can I also suggest that you undermine your own argument. You say the public thought “we could do with more money for the NHS” – they were misled by a blatant lie, which was repudiated shamelessly the day after the result. When people said the result would be regarded as binding, I think they were working on the assumption that the fight would be fought under normal rules, instead of which we got a monumental campaign of disinformation by one side, which the other side failed miserably to counter.

    Paul Murray 1.36 I gave in the article the reasons why my stance is democratic. You can argue against that, but you need to give reasons. Just quoting other people does not cut it. I think Paddy Ashdown was mistaken to make such a definitive pronouncement, but arguably all politicians felt the same – they realised that they had badly cocked it up, the “plague on both your houses” mentioned in another comment. Now that the dust has settled, and now also that we can see how devilishly difficult the whole thing is going to be, the pro EU side is beginning to recover its voice. But that will only work in the context of other actions as I have argued in the post mentioned above.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 3:20pm

    Tpfkar 1.38 I deal with the FA Cup analogy in the article. If a side loses in the FA Cup, it gets a chance to play again next year. that will not happen here, so the decision needs to be more firmly based than a wafer thin majority based on a mountain of lies.

  • William Ross 7th Jan '17 - 3:43pm

    Rob

    You remind me of some poor old Confederate general in 1866 trying to persuade some of his rural colleagues that the Civil War result was wrong and that really, Texas had the right to secede from the Union and so on……

    Face it, you lost and we are leaving.

  • Rob
    if a side loses in the FA cup it does not automatically get a chance the following year. It can be knocked out in the first game and that can happen decade in decade out. Only an actual draw would result in a rematch. Close to a draw is still not a draw. As for the claim that the result was a snapshot on one day, well so was joining the common market in first place and joining the EU was never even put to the electorate. When it finally was The pro EU camp lost and as Leave vote I’m pleased they did. By all means feel free to complain and campaign. Who knows, maybe in 40 years time you might get a revote?

  • should read as a leave voter

  • It would be morally wrong to act in any other way than the majority of those who voted wished. Thus the government is duty bound to explore ways of implementing the will of the electorate and so start to investigate how we can leave the EU. We can raise all the reasons why the vote was not ‘democratic’ and chunter on about lies and a partisan press and so on but we cannot deny the majority their wish. Therein lies the problem because we don’t know what the majority want: it seems that there are many, many flavours of ‘leave’ many of them contradictory. So the government must first decide what type of ‘leave’ it intends to negotiate and then tell us. Since last June there has been a significant change in the electorate, young people reaching voting age and older people sadly dying and this changes things. It was wrong to exclude UK citizens living abroad from the vote, the situation in Northern Ireland will have changed minds and so on. When the government publishes it’s version of ‘leave’ we may all be delighted or we may be horrified, we can’t say. We must be asked and the majority decision sought because it would be morally wrong to act in any other way than the majority wish. A General Election will not suffice because many affected citizens cannot vote in parliamentary elections. We must have a second referendum and I feel this should take place before the article 50 process is triggered, what is more the result must settle the issue.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 4:47pm

    William 3.43 nice picture. But which of my arguments can you refute?

  • The first is that the voters get a chance regularly to change their minds

    I must have missed all those regular referendums on EU membership, held between 1975 and 2016, which gave the voters a chance to change their minds on EU membership, then.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 5:00pm

    Tim 4.57 – that’s the point. We don’t get the chance to change our minds on this one.

  • The electorate can vote to insist the world is flat, doesn’t mean I have to accept their view or stop saying its round.

  • Glen,
    You equate real life with football, that is truly worrying. Football doesn’t pay the bills or put bread on the table for the vast majority of the population. Worryingly for a large number of people they see life through the lens of footie, until reality bites and footie becomes o so unimportant.

  • We don’t get the chance to change our minds on this one

    When did we get the chance to change our minds on the last one?

  • We don’t get the chance to change our minds on this one

    (And indeed, would you be suggesting that we should get he chance to change our minds on this on if the result had been the other way? Or is it only a ‘Leave’ vote you think we should get the chance to change: a ‘Remain’, on the other hand, is for ever?)

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 5:39pm

    Tim 5.32 no, but that’s exactly what Nigel Farage was suggesting when he thought he was going to lose.

  • @highlevel
    “It is the duty, yes the duty of every MP in the House to vote according to the best interests of Britain and the British people”
    That is true as far to say on the day to day business of Government as we elect MP’s to represent us in a representative democracy.
    However, when it comes to referendum and in this instance Brexit, MP’s voted overwhelmingly to hand power back to the electorate with direct democracy. Parliament handed the decision back to the public, it asked the public to consider the arguments and to decide whether to vote to leave or to remain.
    We had the arguments, we had months of debate, there was literature galore sent through the post to every household up and down the country, we heard from every economist, world leaders, Institutes all telling us to vote remain. The public rejected that.
    Now it is right that MP’s should deliver on the decision on what they asked us to do.
    It has been Libdem Policy to have an in / out referendum it was in your manifesto and European Manifesto’s
    Nick Clegg, Tim Farron and others had been arguing for an in / out referendum for years. They got what the wanted, they just didnt get the result they expected.

  • Tim 5.32 no

    Sorry, you mean you do think that if we have voted ‘Remain’ we should have got a chance to change our minds, or you don’t?

  • Matt 2.05 The argument that the rest of the EU will make negotiations difficult for us because they don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to use article 50 is implausible. It is more likely that as they want us to stay and would be amenable to allowing us to revoke article 50 and retain EU membership, in the event that the negotiated terms are rejected in a referendum, and thus avoid the precedent of the loss of a major member state.
    There seem to have been several unsubstantiated assertions that the article 50 process is not revocable: Isn’t that subject to judgement by the ECJ?
    Demand for further referendums can be avoided if parliament is made representative by enactment long overdue electoral reform.

  • Frankie,
    I don’t. I never brought football up. Rob and Tpfkar used it as an analogy. I was just pointing out Rob misunderstood how the FA cup works. Personally, my entertainment tastes is more hip hop, rock, old hardcore punk (especially Bad Brains), art history (what I studied at Uni) and films, Having said that I support my local team although not to the extent of paying to see them.

  • Turboblocke 7th Jan '17 - 5:57pm

    When Parliament agreed to allow a referendum it was bad on the premise that it was advisory as they were informed in a Commons briefing paper http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7212#fullreport see section 5.

    For the government to later state that it would implement the result is the mark of a dictatorship. All it could have legitimately stated is that it would try to implement the result. The fact that so many people voted on the basis of so little understanding of how democracy works is staggering.

  • The argument that the rest of the EU will make negotiations difficult for us because they don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to use article 50 is implausible

    More to the point if that is true then it proves that we were right to leave! An organisation that only keeps its members by threatening to hurt them if they leave is not a club, it’s a protection racket, and we do not want to be part of any such thing.

  • @John Payne
    “The argument that the rest of the EU will make negotiations difficult for us because they don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to use article 50 is implausible.”

    I never said the EU would make negotiations difficult. I said the rules as I understand them do not allow for article 50 to be revoked. The rules are once article 50 is invoked the clock starts ticking
    and either
    A) in the 2 year period a deal is reached
    B) No deal is reached and we resort to WTO
    C) By agreement of the EU Council by Unanimous vote and the Member state to extend the 2 year time limit

    from my understanding there is no (D) find out what the deal is first and then put it to the electorate and allow for article 50 to be revoked if they do not like the deal.

    In order for (D) to become a possibility there would need to be changes to the treaty and the EU is not going to want treaty changes as that opens up a whole can of worms for other member states who will need to have a referendum.

    Besides the EU will not want (D) to be an option because every time a member state did not get something they wanted from the EU or did not agree with a policy, they would be able to hold the EU to ransom with constant threats of invoking article 50, it would give to much power to a member state and the EU does not like that

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 6:36pm

    Tim 5.32 I’ll give you a better thought through answer. Referendums have a difficult status in the representative democratic process. In my view Parliament was wrong to set up the referendum as it did with a simple majority and an unfocussed question. The leaving alternative should ahve been specific: to leave and go to WTO rules, to leave but stay in the single market, one or the other. Then it would have been as specific as the remain vote was, and leavers would not have been able to tell nearly so many untruths.

    As for the referendum itself, I do not accept the result of this one because of it being a referendum -I disliked the result of the AV referendum but I accepted it. I do not accept this referendum because of the way it was fought. As I say in the article, both sides let us down badly, and the media let us down equally badly. That was not a functioning democratic system. So it is not referndums per se, though they should be better set up than this one, it is the appalling way this one was conducted that leads me to repudiate it.

    Matt 5.47 says we got all the arguments and lots of statements from different people. Actually we didn’t. Lots of people did say stuff, but it was drowned out by a chorus of shouting from leave and whimpers from Remain. Leave’s monumental and persistent untruths were never properly dealt with.

  • Matt 6.14
    I would refer you to Richard Robinsons informative posting of 19th Dec 2016 and ensuing comments:
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/another-article-50-court-case-and-article-127-why-we-should-take-notice-52756.html
    It’s apparent from this that interpretation of article 50 is far less certain than you wish to imply and also that leaving the EEA is not linked to leaving the EU i.e. not part of the referendum question. Therefore, there is no logic for parliament to sanction leaving the EEA based on the referendum result.
    I wasn’t quoting you but apologies if it appeared that way.
    The history of European negotiations has often been marked brinksmanship and with flexibility to compromise when the political will for agreement is mutual. In this case the interests of both parties are for a close ongoing relationship. That is the best hope for the rest of the EU to remain intact but it won’t be a matter of just carrying on as before. They will need to reform with or without us.

  • “In my view Parliament was wrong to set up the referendum as it did with a simple majority and an unfocussed question. The leaving alternative should ahve been specific: to leave and go to WTO rules, to leave but stay in the single market, one or the other.”
    Referendums only ever work when there is a simple majority and binary choice Yes or NO, you cannot have multiple choice answers as you suggest.
    If it were as you suggested and the options were
    A) Leave but stay in single market
    B) Leave resort to WTO
    C) Remain
    And the votes broke down to
    A) 35%
    B) 37%
    C) 28%
    Remainers would be arguing that there was no overall majority and the country is divided and therefore B is undemocratic because it did not have a clear majority of over 50% and the Government has no mandate to take us out of the EU.
    “Matt 5.47 says we got all the arguments and lots of statements from different people. Actually we didn’t. Lots of people did say stuff, but it was drowned out by a chorus of shouting from leave and whimpers from Remain. Leave’s monumental and persistent untruths were never properly dealt with.”
    Actually we had statements and warnings from the IMF, The IFS, The bank of England, the Treasury, Obama, Angela Merkel. All made doomsday predictions about what would happen the moment we voted leave {Note these things were supposed to happen the moment we voted leave not after we left} these things did not happen and even now the bank of England admits that economists were wrong and have a credibility issue. Remain told persistent untruths and relied on project fear, they were rejected by the voting electorate. Given another shot at it, do you really thing remain would do anything different? of course not, because hardball remainers are not really interested in reforms as they do not really see anything wrong with the EU, given the choice they would probably go for more EU, an EU super state, European Army, the works.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Jan '17 - 9:00pm

    I know they have to be binary, Matt. But the two options should be equivalent. Remain was a known and specific option; the Leave option should have been similarly limited. Put it the other way round. It would be self evidently ludicrous to have two options, one of which was “Leave and be subject to WTO rules” and the other was “Stay on any completely undefined terms you like”. What we got was defined remain and undefined leave – which is equally ludicrous, as Theresa May is just beginning to find out.

  • Rob.
    Let’s be a bit more honest. The remain camp think there’s a chance of blocking a result they don’t like and are going for it. Fair enough, but there is no reason The 52% should think it’s to be applauded.

  • jedibeeftrix 7th Jan '17 - 9:40pm

    @ Rob – “Remain was a known and specific option”

    This is categorically not true. There is nothing at all certain about the future direction of the EU, in the clegg sense that britain would motor on as before in a happy eu stasis.

    The arrival of the EBU, the increase of QMV, the decreasing weight of the british ‘vote’ in eu decision making, all result in an erosion of sovereignty for nation states. Fine for the euro nations, where this is necessary, but impacting also on the non euro nations as open europe has documented assiduously.

    This combined with the rising power of populist parties across europe, means that clegg’s notion in the debate with farage was a pernicious nonsense.

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Jan '17 - 9:48pm

    Matt,

    Lets be accurate here: It was Lib Dem policy in 2015 to have an in/out referendum if there was a “transfer of further powers to Brussels”. I.e as enshrined in the EU Act by the coalition (see full 2015 manifesto P143. It is not hard to find if you are interested in the truth…).

    There have been no Treaty changes since 2015, so no referendum on the basis of 2015 policy

  • Remain was a known and specific option

    Except it wasn’t, was it? Pro-EU types like to make out that it’s all about international co-operation, but every so often the mask slips and they reveal that what they are really interested in is a federal European superstate in which the UK is a mere administrative entity subservient to the federal EU government, like California within the US.

    As many things about Remain were just as vague as Leave: would it lead to an EU army? Direct EU taxation? Losing our seat on the UN security council for a combined EU seat, as already happened in the WTO? Surrendering our foreign policy to an EU foreign office, just as we have surrendered out ability to make bilateral, exclusive trade deals?

    None of these things were spelled out by the Remain campaign (for the simple reason that the Remainers want them all, but know that the public would never accept them, so they hope to achieve them gradualy, through stealth).

    So it’s complete rubbish to say that Leave was a leap into the unknown while Remain was a completely spelled-out prospectus. It’s the other way around: Remain would have been seen as a vote for whatever the EU decided to propose in future; which we all know means as much ‘more Europe’ as they can think of.

    Both sides were unknowns (as the future always is) but at least Leave means we’re facing those unknowns as the United Kingdom, a soverign independant nation, not as a mere member state of a federal Europe.

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Jan '17 - 9:53pm

    Glenn,

    No reason why the leave side should not oppose a further referendum… But saying that calling for a referendum is “undemocratic” is unjustified

  • Andrew,
    I don’t care if there’s another referendum. I think the leave vote would increase because project fear has so obviously been exposed as an over-egged alarmist pudding and I see no evidence that remain could make winning positive case staying in EU. So it would just be a repeat of the campaign with less traction. Doesn’t mean I’ve got to agree that it’s necessary “just to make sure”.

  • @Rob Parsons

    I am sorry i misread your post, I apologise, i thought you were suggesting that the referendum should have had all 3 options on the ballot paper, WTO, leave Single Market and Remain.
    My Bad

    I don’t really understand why you would have wanted leave to define before the referendum though whether we should go WTO or leave but stay in the single market. That would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

    It is entirely possible that the UK “might” negotiate partial “access” to the single market whilst not being a “member” of the single market. I am not saying that that would happen, We have no idea what is possible until negotiations have commenced, so why would we shoot ourselves in the foot and go straight for a referendum on say remain or WTO?
    Especially when article 50 in the Lisbon treaty allows us to at very least negotiate a deal with the EU.
    @Andrew McCaig
    “Lets be accurate here: It was Lib Dem policy in 2015 to have an in/out referendum if there was a “transfer of further powers to Brussels”
    I suggest you take a look at your 2009 European Manifesto or look at the clegg referendum leaflet on Lisbon treaty in 2008. The party imposed a 3 line whip on the Lisbon treaty Referendum motion because Nick Clegg believed it should have been an in /out referendum not a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. 3 prominent front benchers had to resign because they voted against the parties 3 line whip including Tim Farron. So lets not just be accurate, let’s be consistent and stop trying to rewrite the parties history.

  • “Remain was a known and specific option”

    Tim (9.49pm),..makes a very good point in that your Remain choice,..was in no way a specific option as you suggest. Indeed it can be argued that you [and 16.1 million others], walked into the ballot booth and voted Remain, not even bothering to clarify whether a Remain in the EU meant :

    1. An EU much as it is now (as Clegg declared). ?
    2. A reformed EU ( in a mode of reform not spelled out to the electorate).?
    3. An ever closer political union, (culminating in an EU Superstate).?

    ~ So which of the above 3 versions of EU-Remain did you vote for Rob.?

    ~ How do you know which specific Remain version all the other 16.1 million voted for.?

    ~ Would this second referendum you crave, have the list of three ballot choices of Remain as outlined above.?

    ~ Suppose in your second referendum,.. voters go for (2.), a Remain but of a reformed EU,…. but the EU refused to reform.?

    ~ How many iterations of referenda,.. and at what level of specific options do you suggest in order to get a result you are comfortable with.?

    If you are so keen on a ‘destination’ Rob,.. shouldn’t voters be fully informed of their possible Remain destinations, as well as their Leave destinations, in order to make a valid choice.?

  • Andrew McCaig 8th Jan '17 - 1:39am

    Matt,

    Thankyou for drawing attention to the consistent policy on an EU referendum since 2008:
    Lisbon treaty 2008 = transfer of powers = in/out referendum
    Ever since: no transfer of powers = no referendum.
    That has been in every manifesto
    In two years time: Treaty change once the terms of exit have been negotiated = referendum

  • Andrew Tampion 8th Jan '17 - 5:59am

    Rob if you read the Conservativr Party Manifesto 2015 on page 72 it clearly says that an in- out referendum and respect the result therefore every Conservative MP who was elected on the basis of that Manifesto is clearly morally obliged to vote to leave th EU. Even if you are right about the the Referendum being advisory for other MP’s that’s still a majority for leave.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Jan '17 - 8:02am

    Rob, I made several comments on a previous article that you wrote on this subject, and I don’t really want to repeat the arguments now. But don’t you realise how dangerous your argument is? Despite the arguments you have come up with to try to justify your position, you are still suggesting that a democratic decision should not be implemented. You seem not to realise what a dangerous precedent this would set. Democracy depends on people being confident that their vote counts, and that the result of a vote will be respected – respected in the sense of “implemented”, not in your bizarre definition of the word respect.
    You are, of course, completely entitled to decide that “this fight is unfinished”. But the only democratic way to continue the fight would be to campaign for Britain to rejoin the EU at some point in the future, after we have left.

  • The referendum was rubbish from start to finish. But millionas of people voted to leave and do actually need to respect this. the referendum result should not be ‘overturned’ or even challenged unless the majority of these people are brought on board and change’s it’s view. We need
    1. A different government . What are the LDs doing here? Are they encouraging a progressive alliance? I don’t see much evidence ( I do see a little) but I am very happy to be re-educated.
    2. Povery and social exclusion especially poor housing and low wages to be addressed urgently? Are the LDs doing this? I don’t see much evidence but I am very happy to be re-educated.

  • J Dunn. Excellent post. Now, the next time someone posts ‘I voted Leave, what part of Leave do you not get?’ we can refer them to it.
    And the next time someone refuses to recognise not all Leave voters wanted the same thing: ditto.
    The superstate idea is a scare story that’s about as likely to happen as Elvis riding in on Shergar. 27/28 countries would never agree, and never sell it to their citizens.
    The EU has evolved as it has grown and will continue to do so. We elect governments and MEPs to represent us on that and negotiate changes and if they’ve not done a great job in your view so far, that’s down to them, not some Daily Express bogeyman in Brussels.

    I don’t anyone read the reforms Cameron negotiated that were the basis for June 23. So, while it would be lovely if the next referendum had 2,000,000 words accompanying it on how to reform the CAP, the fishing policy, and so on, I think ‘spelling out reform to the electorate’ might be asking too much.
    After all, party manifestos at general elections tend to be outlines, not detail.

  • …I don’t THINK anyone read…

  • Cassie B.
    The Super state already exists. The EU has a legal system. a single currency, a foreign policy. a president, a parliament, an anthem, a concept of citizenship, antipathy to popular local politics and a lot of its staunchest supporters believe that the older concept of independent nation states is innately dangerous. It’s arguably only dishonesty and fear of local reaction that that stops it’s supporters from saying so.

  • Glenn. We still have two legal systems of our own in the UK, and I’d say 99.99999999% of cases at least are entirely determined by them. We’re not in the single currency and never will be. We went our own way on Iraq and other foreign policy decisions. The president has as much power over individual citizens as Scooby Doo. Leavers are always telling us the Parliament has no influence (it’s all ‘decided by Brussels’). When did you last hear anyone play the anthem as such (rather than as being a work by Beethoven) and when exactly did anyone insist on you saluting the flag as a citizen?
    Its ‘staunchest supporters’ can believe what they like. Doesn’t mean any of it will happen.
    Though if by ‘concept of independent nation states is innately dangerous’ you mean they look at two world wars largely between European nations, not to mention the genocide that followed the division of Yugoslavia into independent nations, ‘they’ may well have a point, don’t you think?

  • Cassie B,
    Two world wars caused almost entirely by German imperialism. As for the Yugoslavia argument. So you believe the Soviet Union should never have broken up, which was the actual cause.
    The four freedoms are designed to create a state, all new members have to sign up to the single currency and the only reason Britain didn’t is because we are powerful and awkward enough to resist it.
    As far as I know there is no way of forcing anyone to salute a flag.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 10:42am

    Apologies for delay in replying. I got blocked for sending too many replies to my own post.

    Tim 9.49 “would it lead to an EU army? Direct EU taxation? Losing our seat on the UN security council for a combined EU seat, as already happened in the WTO? Surrendering our foreign policy to an EU foreign office, just as we have surrendered out ability to make bilateral, exclusive trade deals?” All require unanimity, so the answer is no, unless the UK wants it.

    Matt 12.14 am “I don’t really understand why you would have wanted leave to define before the referendum though whether we should go WTO or leave but stay in the single market. That would be shooting ourselves in the foot.” No, I think the sensible and mature thing is to say what you want. It is not defined purely in terms of a poker game between us and a load of people we see as opponents. It hould be about saying what we want. The issue is that the leave side did not know what they wanted. The easy thing to do is to just shout a lot about leaving while denying the difficulties in the specifics.

    J Dunn 12.22 we were voting for the EU as it was then. Future possibilities can be thought about, but anything seriously different from what it is now requires UK agreement, so it is clear that any change that happens will only be with UK agreement.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 10:47am

    Catherine 8.02 we are clearly going to differ on this. I do not see it as dangerous at all to ask for actual democracy. What we got was a travesty of democracy. It illustrated just how undemocratic our system has become when partisan media can create an atmosphere in which people feel lying is the right way to go about things. Nobody challenges them, and if people do challenge them, they just shut louder. Well, I am challenging them, and I will continue to do so. Liberal democracy, as Conrad Russell put it, is about standing up to bullies everywhere, and I am standing up to this set of bullies.

  • @Rob Parsons
    Well clearly I disagree – if the government says to me “this is your chance to vote on something, and we will abide by your decision” then I don’t see how you can argue they have a moral right to ignore the outcome. (Legally, of course they do, and I used this argument myself in the heat of the moment for about a week after the disappointment of the referendum. But then I snapped out of it.)

    You attempt to justify the opposite by claiming that the Leave side lied repeatedly during the campaign. I don’t disagree with that, but here confirmation bias kicks in – you are hopping mad about the inaccuracies from Leave while not noticing the inaccuracies from Remain. To give a good example of the latter, even the editor of LDV was still repeating just the other day the Remain claim that the numbers of EU citizens in the UK are about the same as the number of UK citizens in the EU, when in reality there is a 2 million difference.

  • I couldn’t agree more with the original post!

  • @Rob Parsons
    “No, I think the sensible and mature thing is to say what you want. It is not defined purely in terms of a poker game between us and a load of people we see as opponents. It hould be about saying what we want. The issue is that the leave side did not know what they wanted. The easy thing to do is to just shout a lot about leaving while denying the difficulties in the specifics.”

    With all due respects, that is not how negotiations work.
    The leave side did and does know what they want, They wanted and voted for to leave the EU, that means Leaving the Single Market. it also meant putting an end to uncontrolled immigration.
    Article 50 allows us to leave membership of the EU and in an agreed time frame and possibly negotiate a deal with the EU.
    Why would we not take advantage of that treaty? That was the whole point of the treaty, though admittedly, nobody actually expected a member state to use it.

    I suspect what you really want is for the Government to set out it’s position for everyone to see, before they even enter into the negotiating room. So hardcore remainers can shout and scream from the rafters, that what the Government is proposing is not what they want and too give the impression that the Government does not have the support of the voters in the hope of weakening the Governments hand and a failure to make a deal.
    It’s all based on a hope that there will be a 2nd referendum on the deal {which as i have said in an earlier post, I do not think is possible} and the remain camp would win.
    It is a dangerous strategy if you are wrong, which I think you are

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 11:46am

    Stuart 11.01 “you are hopping mad about the inaccuracies from Leave while not noticing the inaccuracies from Remain.”. That is not how I see it. The Remain side was about the norm for a political campaign; there were a few lies and lot of exaggeration. But the scale of the Leave side’s lies dwarf anything Remain did, and went far beyond any campaign I have ever seen in this country.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 11:48am

    Matt 11.36 Leavers know what they want. No, they are not united. I have met plenty of Leavers who do not want to leave the single market. I have even met some who are competely relaxed about immigration. This is a hard Leaver myth – they are working very hard to drown out any suggestion that the Leave side is not united in what it wants, which it is not.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 11:48am

    Meg 9.11

    What are we doing?

    Well, the LibDems have been at the forefront of campaigns for changing the electoral system for a long time now. We are also working towards the idea of progressive alliances, though that is not an easy thing to do. We need to establish much better relations of trust in areas where we fight each other as much as we fight the right wing. But such things are happening. Richmond was an example – that worked to our benefit, but there was a lot of disussion behind the scenes before the greens came to their decision. There have been examples lately in by-elections where LibDem and other candidates have stood aside with greater or lesser degrees of success.

    There are other difficulties here. Public opinion does not favour alliances – see what damage the Tories managed to do in the 2015 eection with the idea of SNP being in bed with Labour. So there is a long and delicate journey to travel. But I see signs of such things happening in many places. There is also evidence that, even if the parties don’t formally make alliances, the voters do. The 1997 election was a case in point where many on the centre left voted for whichever candidate was going to defeat the Tories. We continue to make the case. Bowers, Lucas and Nandy’s “The Alternative” is a very good read.

    Housing is another difficult one. Every government since forever has promised to build houses and then failed to meet its targets. This is largely because of he obsession with private neterprise brought in by Thatcher and amplified since. There is also the problem of public peception again – when you actually build houses somewhere you upset people. Perhaps we should be more courageous in upsetting some people. LibDem policy is very much in favour of building more houses, including social housing and suitable housing (i.e. one and two bed, not the three and four bed executive that every developer goes for. And Tim Farron has a stellar record at getting houses built in his constituency.

  • @Rob Parsons
    “I have met plenty of Leavers who do not want to leave the single market. I have even met some who are completely relaxed about immigration. This is a hard Leaver myth”
    It was made abundantly clear during the campaign that leaving the EU would mean leaving the single market, it was in literature and it was said many times by Cameron and his team. Leaving membership of single market is entirely different to getting a deal that gives “access” to the single market. Remainers are trying to fudge the line by implying people who would like to see access to the single market really means they want to remain members of the single market
    With regards to immigration, the facts speak for themselves, opinion polls have shown consistently that over 70% of the electorate are concerned about the levels of immigration and want to see the numbers reduced and controls brought in

  • Glenn> the only reason Britain didn’t is because we are powerful and awkward enough to resist it. As far as I know there is no way of forcing anyone to salute a flag.

    You appear to have fixed your own post, then. There is no superstate in practice and as the UK has always gone its own merry, awkward way until now, there’s no reason to fear we’d roll over to one in future.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 12:45pm

    Matt, Boris Johnson was saying all the way through the campaign that we could have our cake and eat it. He said over and over again that we could leave the EU but retain access to the single market.

    Yes, there is great concern about immigration, but that is not going to be solved by leaving the EU. Even arch leaver Andrea Leadsom is now telling farmers that “of course” their access to seasonal labour will not be affected!?!?

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jan '17 - 12:48pm

    @ CassieB – “You appear to have fixed your own post, then. There is no superstate in practice and as the UK has always gone its own merry, awkward way until now, there’s no reason to fear we’d roll over to one in future.”

    The perils of predicting the future by looking at the past?

    http://archive.openeurope.org.uk/Content/Documents/PDFs/EBAsafeguards.pdf

  • Cassie B.
    It’s a superstate. I’ve fixed nothing with my post. You’re just try to twist what I said to make it seem like I support your view.
    I think single a currency,elections citizenship and so on means the EU resembles a super state even more than it does a quasi-empire. After all it is a political union.

  • matt – “With regards to immigration, the facts speak for themselves, opinion polls have shown consistently that over 70% of the electorate are concerned about the levels of immigration and want to see the numbers reduced and controls brought in”. So because over 70% believe something, we should change our minds !!!!!!!!! What utter, utter crap.

  • matt – Wonder what % of the people supported our campaign for UK passports for Hong Kong residents ? Doubt it was very high, but it was absolutely the right policy. Should we support the death penalty just because opinion polls say a majority support it ? Of course not.

  • @Tim Hill
    “So because over 70% believe something, we should change our minds “
    I was responding to Rob Parsons who said “I have even met some who are completely relaxed about immigration. This is a hard Leaver myth” I was pointing out that opinion polls have shown consistently that over 70% of people want less immigration and more control, so it is hardly a “hard leave myth” as he claimed.
    As regards as to whether you should change your opinion about immigration, No you are free to have whatever opinion you wish and should be free to campaign for whatever you wish. As for Government and MP’s, they should do as the majority of the public has instructed, after all they are there to represent the electorate and in this instance they had democracy back to the public in a direct democracy in the form of a plebiscite.
    As for your comparison on the death penalty, i find your argument churlish, as far as I am aware, no political party supports the death penalty, therefore it would never be put out to plebiscite, unlike the in / out referendum which has been party policy for Liberal Democrats, Tories, UKIP and Labour and indeed was just legislated for by all parties hence the reason we just had the referendum.
    As for your language and hostility towards non Libdem “members” may i point you to the lib dem constitution “We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely”

  • Glenn, you really are making things up. The EU is not and never will be a “superstate” i.e. an organisation which is effectively a country like the USA. The EU is an organisation that allows countries to work together where there is common agreement. All of the aspects of the EU that some UK voters are unhappy about were brought in with the support of the UK Government of the time, for example free movement of people. There is not a single country or political party in Europe that would support creating a United States of Europe.

  • Twenty-eight percent of the population voted Brexit.
    Many did not vote. They were not indoctrinated into hating all things “European” like the Brexiteer who thought he was voting against the European Convention on Human Rights – Nothing at all to do with the EU. Many had not the time or inclination to wade through and analyse the mass of lies and misinformation pre-Voting. THey rely on their “elected representative” with their informed researchers to judge the facts and vote accordingly.
    However, control has been taken (“back”) by the 28 percent and their puppets in the Tory Government. Parliament and even the Conservative party have been disenfranchised. Since when has “sovereign” Parliament chosen to cede power to an even smaller minority of the population than Tory voters?
    Why are we not complaining about this? The Referendum result cannot be allowed to stand. A second one is more than justified, this time requiring a clear two-thirds majority in favour of leaving; the same kind of majority that the tory Government requires of trade unionists before they can trigger industrial action.

  • PPL,
    I’m not making anything up. It’s the way I see it. Single currency, citizenship, laws. international policies and so on to me does equal something akin to a country. It just so happens it’s sort of a weak one. If it wasn’t it would not need all the political structures and remain would not bang on about the loss of citizenship.

  • @Rob Parsons
    “He said over and over again that we could leave the EU but retain access to the single market.”
    Yes he did and the key word being said was “access” which is entirely different to being a “member”
    “Even arch leaver Andrea Leadsom is now telling farmers that “of course” their access to seasonal labour will not be affected!?”
    With controlled immigration she is right, It would be possible to issue Temporary work visa’s which would allow “anyone from anywhere” to apply for a visa that would allow them to come and visit the UK and work on a temporary basis for say 6-12 months. The point being it is “temporary” and does not entitle the person to access in work benefits or social housing and becoming a drain on what are already very limited resources.
    It is a system that works well in Australia, hundreds of thousands of young British backpackers do it each year on working holidays down under, it is a fantastic way to travel, learn about new cultures and earn money at the same time.
    @John Hall
    “Twenty-eight percent of the population voted Brexit. Many did not vote.”
    And your point is? Or would you like to see us change to a compulsory voting system? Not very Liberal is it. And besides, this election saw the biggest electoral turn out in history.
    “Many had not the time or inclination to wade through and analyse the mass of lies and misinformation pre-Voting. THey rely on their “elected representative” with their informed researchers to judge the facts and vote accordingly.”
    What misinformation would that be then? Possibly the misinformation from the IMF, The IFS, The treasury, The bank of England. These “informed researchers” Economists were wildly wrong in their predictions on what would happen if we vote leave [Note their predictions were about what would happen immediately when we voted leave, not after we left} Even the Bank of England now concedes that the economists where wrong and have a credibility problem
    “The Referendum result cannot be allowed to stand. A second one is more than justified, this time requiring a clear two-thirds majority in favour of leaving”
    How is requiring a 2/3 Majority more democratic than a simple majority? In a Liberal Democracy you cannot have compulsory voting and all votes must be equal when it comes to referenda. That’s how democracy works

  • Rob Parsons 8th Jan '17 - 8:07pm

    We seem to have reached a point where we are repeating ourselves and stating positions rather than engaging with each other’s point of view. I am beginning to wonder if it is a rule of some sort. I have noticed before that once we get to about 100 comments we have run out of generative things to say. If it turns out to be so, I claim the right to call it Rob’s Rule.

    So I am going to pull out at this point. I thank everybody for the points that have been made, particularly those critiquing my viewpoint. It is always useful to get one’s ideas tested, and I have been given plenty to think about. But other things beckon. Namely Sherlock, and then I have work to do.

  • matt
    I am sure you are familiar with normal constitutional practice for any organisation that any major constitutional change requires a considerably higher majority than 50%+1. This, of course, is for the simple reason that major constitutional change often imply radical changes in modus operandi, major costs etc, so there needs to be certainty that a large proportion of the organisation supports it. Anything less than two-thirds majority would also imply considerable division and unhappiness among those favouring the status quo, who are most likely heavily emotionally, and possibly financially, invested in the build up to that status quo. I think even you would concede that all these factors come into play when observing the facts of withdrawal from the EU.

    So, if even the humblest Parish Council or WI etc require a two thirds majority, how much more should we require it for major change to our international relationships, even assuming that it is a proper use of referendum process, which the more you look at the implications and complexity, the more it looks doubtful.

  • @Tim13

    I disagree entirely, no surprises there.

    The referendum turn out was 72.2% meaning that 27.8% of the electorate had complete apathy towards the in / out referendum. This in my opinion discounts them entirely.
    That leaves us with the 72.2% who where bothered about the vote and the result, therefore to be completely democratic it has to be based on a simple majority of 50%+1

  • matt
    If you believe the Leave side were united behind an idea of leaving the Single Market, you must be living in an alternative universe! It is quite likely that most of Leave.EU favoured that, but the “official” leave campaign were and are very split on that.

    I continue in my view that many (both politicians and ordinary non-political people) are still imbued with a view of a multinational confederation that allows Britain to opt out of anything it likes not very much. Because we don’t much like “Courts telling us what to do”, requiring us to allow other Europeans to work and live in Britain if they choose etc, and we are being unsuccessful in insisting we won’t do it (like a toddler being told they must go to bed), we have now taken our toys and thrown them out of the pram. A very adult thing to do.

  • matt
    Usually, the two-thirds (or 75% or whatever), required majority is of the number actually voting, so it is irrelevant whether 60%, 72.2% or 85% actually vote. By the way, it might not have been apathy which caused them not to vote – in some cases I know of it was down to being unsure which side to favour (a very sensible instinct, given some of the complexities of the topic, and the straight yes/no vote rquired. Some may even have thought it through that their views were split according to what area of life they considered, and thought it safest not to vote.

    But all those considerations are irrelevant to the core of our disagreement, which is about the validity of requiring different majorities for different purposes. May I ask you whether you support enhanced majorities being required by many organisations for fundamental changes? I have often seen change proposals defeated which have gained something over 50% support, but not the required majority.

  • Tim
    , I do respect your right to argue your case. Obviously I will continue to believe you are completely wrong and we will exit the EU anyway. If I was going to use a similar metaphor to the over used pram/toy combo I might even say that some remainers will continue to kick and scream like over hyped tots until they are dragged away from the party by their exasperated Mummy and Daddy.

  • @Tim13
    “If you believe the Leave side were united behind an idea of leaving the Single Market, you must be living in an alternative universe! It is quite likely that most of Leave.EU favoured that, but the “official” leave campaign were and are very split on that”

    I believe everybody understood that voting to leave the EU meant leaving the single market, I am pretty sure the Government mentioned this in their literature when they were warning against a leave vote, David Cameron certainly said it.
    It is my belief that Leave campaigners were united on a leave vote meaning leaving the single market. I have said it on other threads, it’s all about language there is a world of difference between being a “member” of the single market and getting “access” to the single market. Every leave campaigner I heard talking, talked about “access” There are many non EU countries that have negotiated “limited” access to the single market without being a member, this is what the negotiations will come down to.

    “May I ask you whether you support enhanced majorities being required by many organisations for fundamental changes? ”
    No I don’t support enhanced majorities, I believe in all votes being equal and therefore only support simple majorities of 50%+1. That is just my personal belief of what democracy is all about and how I believe it should work. I respect that others feel differently but i can only go by what my heart and head and my very core say’s is the right thing

  • Matt: Compulsory voting is no answer – you’d be asking un/misinformed people to vote on the basis of the lie they liked most or on no basis at all!. This is why our representatives only should have sovereignty. This cannot be ceded under royal perogative to any minority, certainly not “Brexiteers. The latter may have won a majority in a Referendum, but unless it numerically represented the majority of “the people”, sovereign power must remain with with elected representatives – Parliament. Why are you Brexiteers so desperate to avoid our representatives from taking the decision?
    You really are a biased Brexiteer, aren’t you? Misinformation is misinformation! I didn’t mention as coming from either or any side, Your defensivness of one side gives away the weakness of your support. I am merely arguing for the majority to have sway, without assuming it will be stay or leave. Why do you fear that your support is not strong enough?

  • jedibeeftrix 9th Jan '17 - 7:30am

    “May I ask you whether you support enhanced majorities being required by many organisations for fundamental changes? ”

    I’ve no problem with it, but see little to explain why it should act as a more important guide to referendums than our own constitutional setup with parliamentary sovereignty, where no bar is imposed on any law making over and above the need for a simple majority.

  • John’
    I don’t agree and I don’t accept the majority isn’t strong enough. I think some in the remain camp really are just anti-democratic and can’t accept the dream is over. The other reality is that the Lib Dems have under ten seats and are about 8% of the national vote. Do the maths.

  • @John Hall
    “Why are you Brexiteers so desperate to avoid our representatives from taking the decision?
    You really are a biased Brexiteer, aren’t you”
    Normally we live in a representative democracy. However, on the issue of our continued membership of the EU, all the major parties, Government and parliament all decided that the decision and power should be handed back to the electorate in direct democracy in the form of a plebiscite.
    So how does that make me a biased brexiter when all I and others are doing and have done is what parliament asked us to do, to consider the arguments for and against and to come to an informed decision.
    Our Government decided that they alone could not make this decision and they put the responsibility and decision back into the power of the people.
    That does not make me biased.

    “I am merely arguing for the majority to have sway”
    The Majority did have the sway, the leave side. 27.8% of the electorate were discounted because they had complete apathy towards the EU referendum.
    That left the 72.2% of those that did vote and the majority of those voted to leave. Thats democracy

  • I can’t see why the referendum result can’t be challenged in the same way as general elections are. Still less why we shouldn’t have a second referendum, Nigel Farage was keen on that when he thought he’d lost, but this time on the nature of the exit deal that is achieved.

    It might also be useful if some commentators went away and actually read the paperwork around the legislation that established the referendum. It was clearly advisory, not binding on parliament in any way thus leaving MPs to do what’s in the best interests of the country.

  • Matt: On the one hand you claim that Parliament wanted to hand power back to the “electorate”, and that you have done what Parliament wanted you to do. On the other, you, (and other Brexiteers), are determined that Parliament should not be able to represent all their constituents over the terms of Brexit, let alone whether it should go ahead at all.
    You undermine the idea of “democracy” by narrowly defining “majority” as being the largest minority or as only applying to those able to vote. You should also realise that most people are not anoraks like you. Many find struggling with day-to-day living hard enough without having some politician demanding that they also do his or her job!
    It is not “apathy” that prevents everyone from voting in a Referendum. It could be illness or disability, (being blind or deaf makes following political discussions difficult even if one was aware they were taking place). Do you know how many people at any one time are struggling with mental problems, or difficulties due to relatives inconveniently falling ill or dying? These factors can make referenda seem less vital and certainly prevent even anoraks like you from devoting sufficient time to analysing all the pros and cons.
    This is why Parliament cannot nor be allowed to abrogate its responsibilities and give them to a minority, whether Brexiteers or anything else

  • nvelope2003 9th Jan '17 - 12:51pm

    Would it be unreasonable for the result of a referendum to be decided by a majority of 50% + 1 of those entitled to vote and on the electoral roll ? Arbitrary percentages of those actually voting could be hard to justify.

  • ethicsgradient 9th Jan '17 - 12:55pm

    @Robert

    Indeed there is nothing to stop you for campaigning or pushing for a second referendum. That is your view and your are entitled to pursue this.

    My reading of the situation though is the a second referendum would produce the same leave result (with an increase in the leave vote). I genuinely do apologize for sounding like a broken record. Let me outline my thinking as to why this would be as I think is covers some thoughts that remain-voters tend not to factor in.

    1. One of the main reasons for the vote to leave besides the immigration issue was the remote elitist view of the EU, that it did not represent the demos, it does not listen and that it had a democratic deficit. This was certainly expressed through the argument that the EU makes countries who voted the ‘wrong’ way, vote again until the vote the ‘right’ way. If a second referendum happens (which you are entitled to push for) then this negative image of the EU not listening and ignoring votes until the right answer is given would be reinforced and confirmed in all the minds of those skeptical of the EU.

    2. The level of anger that would be felt from at least the 17.5m who voted out, that their vote had been effectively ignored who be unprecedented! It would make most leave voters even more determined to vote leave once more. I think there would also be a small but significant group of remain voters who would also be so disgusted that the free and fair result had been ignored then they would move to vote leave themselves.

    I understand the remain arguments that their is a large proportion of young voters who did not vote that would not vote to remain. This is only my own personal view (and it could well be affected by my own confirmation bias but I am trying to avoid this) that this grouping is not quite as large or as determined as remain voter think they are/might be. I do not think they would be enough to convert 1.4/0.8M votes to remain.
    Secondly as polling has shown there is not significant group of leave voters who now regret voting to leave.

    For these reasons I think the result of a 2nd referendum would be again a vote to leave.

  • ethicsgradient 9th Jan '17 - 1:02pm

    @Robert

    As a leave voter, I do not mind the idea of a second referendum. Indeed I would support one if I felt there was/had been a significant change of heart about leaving the EU by the demos. I am a democrat and if the majority will had changed, it would not be right to go the way the will of the country was wishing. I do not see or detect this though.

    If i were a remain supporter I would be looking to see shifts in polling to be giving a consistent 55%-45% (N.B I am not saying this a set/target level to trigger a 2nd referendum, It just a guide/rule of thumb) desire to remain in/ hold a 2nd referendum. That sort of figure combined with a groundswell from the general populous would indicate an change of will in regards to the leave vote.

  • @John Hall
    “On the other, you, (and other Brexiteers), are determined that Parliament should not be able to represent all their constituents over the terms of Brexit, let alone whether it should go ahead at all.”
    Actually you are wrong there, I believe the MP is there to represent the will of his / her constituency. If that constituency voted for remain then I believe the MP has a moral obligation to vote according to their constituents wishes, which would mean they should vote against invoking article 50
    “Do you know how many people at any one time are struggling with mental problems, or difficulties due to relatives inconveniently falling ill or dying? These factors can make referenda seem less vital and certainly prevent even anoraks like you from devoting sufficient time to analysing all the pros and cons.”
    This shows the dangers of throwing around accusations about people you know nothing about.
    Some people will remember articles I have written for LDV in the past about mental health and sexual abuse.
    I have suffered from long term Severe Depression and Anxiety, Complex-PTSD social phobia. I am no Anorak. I have very limited contact with the outside world due to struggling with severe mental health issues. That does not mean I cant have an opinion on how things should be out there for others.

  • Peter Watson 9th Jan '17 - 1:42pm

    I sense that the Lib Dems’ appetite for referendums has diminished.
    Previously the party appeared to be the most enthusiastic about the notion of referendums as vehicles for change. These days the party appears to have turned against referendums, questioning their legitimacy as an alternative to our unrepresentative parliamentary system and calling for more than a simple majority of the vote or for more than half of the eligible vote in order to make progress less likely.

    This seems to reflect the party’s retreat away from radicalism and towards the comfort of conservatism.
    Shame.

  • Robert: I can’t distinguish between your criticism of “Europe” and my own concerns of our political system. You give away your prejudices in referring to the referendum result as “free and fair”. I used to hear the same claim being made by communists of their voting system. I confess to not caring much for your opinions as expressed in the above piece. Let’s let Parliament take back control and see what people actually want.

  • Matt: You have my sympathy and admiration for connecting with the outside world, however, I can’t approve of your acceptance of a clearly-flawed Referendum result and its incompatability with our so-called “representative democracy” in which the majority of our representatives supposedly holds sway. It rarely does of course, and more undemocratic and extreme elements conspire to ensure that their own views do, (which they can because “the majority” does not actually mean more than 50% of the voting population). Even the whip system in parliament can be said to be “Undemocratic” – forcing MP’s to go against their considered views and accept those of (at times) a minority.

  • PS Matt. You of all people should understand why many do not vote. You really should not dismiss all non-voters as “apathetic”!

  • Peter Watson
    I think you are probably right about a lack of enthusiasm for referendums rising in the Party – for very obvious reasons!

    However, your bracketing of that with the argument I have recently made on this thread about requiring a larger than simple majority to make fundamental changes to any organisation is a bit misleading. The Party has always included this in its constitution for internal party changes, as have many other bodies. This is nothing new, and it protects any organisation from the whims of fashionable opinion, rather than a deep-seated need for change. I see it as protecting the radical, not a move towards conservatism.

  • matt
    In this case (of the referendum) it is actually impossible to determine how most constituencies voted, because the counting was done by local authority area, often very different. Some places, like Sunderland for instance, where Leave stacked up a big majority, it would be reasonable to assume that the city’s constituencies both voted Leave, but in an area like mine, where the rural area voted fairly marginally for leave, and the city area voted Remain, we don’t really know how the constituency broke (I assume it was probably around 50.5 – 49.5% in favour of Leave, but there is no way of knowing. Ironically – and perceptively – our Tory MP took an awful long time to declare he was in favour of Remain, and attracted a fair amount of criticism in the process. Perhaps he detected how close opinion was here! On the other hand, being at the time junior Minister in the Foreign office, perhaps Philip Hammond, his then boss’s decision to go Remain influenced him. However, it didn’t help him career-wise, as he was among those Eton-educated Cameroons swept out by the Empress Theresa’s new broom!

  • @John Hall
    “ I can’t approve of your acceptance of a clearly-flawed Referendum “ I don’t actually seek your acceptance, I accept in a democracy that we are all free and entitled to interpret democracy how we see fit.
    “ incompatability with our so-called “representative democracy” I accept that 99.9% of the time we live in a “representative democracy” Do you accept that when parliament decides that something should be put out to plebiscite then on that particular issue it is “direct democracy”
    In my view Majority rule is the characteristic of democracy. That means when it comes to referenda it is a simple case of 50%+1 and all those who did not vote abstained because they were indifferent to the result and so therefore should not be considered in the result
    “Even the whip system in parliament can be said to be “Undemocratic” “
    I agree entirely with that. There is nothing democratic about whipping MP’s, especially with a 3 line whip which effectively threatens an Mp with expulsion. See if you look deep enough, even those who most disagree with one another can often find common ground in some area’s 😉
    @“Tim13
    “matt
    In this case (of the referendum) it is actually impossible to determine how most constituencies voted, because the counting was done by local authority area, often very different.”
    I do accept your point. I was more referring to London MP’s though I acknowledge that this no longer affects Liberal Democrat MP’s, apart from Tom Brake?? And I do not mean that sarcastically at all.

  • The Party has always included this in its constitution for internal party changes, as have many other bodies.

    And yet they were prepared to change to UK’s voting system based on a simple majority! Double standards much?

    Is it really, ‘changes I approve of need a simple majority, but changes I don’t approve of need a bigger majority’?

    If there were to be another referendum on changing the voting system, this time to PR, say, would you say that would need a two-thirds majority to pass?

  • all those who did not vote abstained because they were indifferent to the result

    It’s certainly true that some people will have intended to vote but been unable to, through illness, unforeseen events, etc, so not all who didn’t vote, did so out of apathy.

    However there is no reason to think those who intended to vote but were not able to don’t represent the same proportions of opinion as those who DID vote, & therefore if they had all voted, the result, percentage-wise would have been the same, just with a higher turnout.

  • Matt: I may have spoken to a maximum of about sixty people in relation to the Referendum. One woman said to me that she didn’t feel qualified to judge whether we should be in or out and that our elected representatives should be expected to do their jobs. I’m sure she was not alone. I repeat that many other people did not feel qualified to judge or physically and mentally were unable to do so. They rely on elected representatives to judge and vote on such matters. It is pure opportunism for Brexiteers to claim that “Leave” was the considered judgement of the majority when it clealy was not.

  • It is pure opportunism for Brexiteers to claim that “Leave” was the considered judgement of the majority when it clealy was not.

    Surely it’s equally unreasonable for you to claim them for your side?

    Anyway our elected representatives did do their jobs. They were elected on a manifesto of holding a referendum and implementing the result. They have done the first bit of what they were elected to do, and now must do the second.

  • @John Hall 9th Jan ’17 – 2:32pm
    “PS Matt. You of all people should understand why many do not vote. You really should not dismiss all non-voters as “apathetic”!”
    Of course you are right, I really should not have said all and should have instead said along the lines of the majority, i did not take into consideration those who were unable to vote through sickness, disability of other unforeseen events and that was thoughtless of me.

    @Tim
    “It’s certainly true that some people will have intended to vote but been unable to, through illness, unforeseen events, etc, so not all who didn’t vote, did so out of apathy.”
    as above
    “However there is no reason to think those who intended to vote but were not able to don’t represent the same proportions of opinion as those who DID vote”
    And I agree entirely

    Thanks for pointing out my erroneous ways, I do appreciate it and it will be a lesson learned for me.
    @John Hall
    “ One woman said to me that she didn’t feel qualified to judge whether we should be in or out and that our elected representatives should be expected to do their jobs. I’m sure she was not alone”
    I was unaware the MP’s had some kind of unique qualification on the EU that the rest of the population has no way of acquiring. I do however accept that some felt physically or mentally unable to do so.
    “ It is pure opportunism for Brexiteers to claim that “Leave” was the considered judgement of the majority when it clealy was not.” We are never going to agree on this matter, my opinion is that the majority is a clear and simple 50%+1 of those that voted. I accept that a small proportion of the 27.8% of people who did not were unable to do so due to sickness, disability or unforeseen circumstances, however, I do not accept that this would have changed the result had these individuals been able to vote, as Tim said in his post “there is no reason to think those who intended to vote but were not able to don’t represent the same proportions of opinion as those who did “

  • Hi Matt and Tim: First Matt, can I have your definition of “democracy” if not “rule by ALL the people, usually through elected representatives”? I don’t see a referendum win on 28% of the people voting as fitting in with this.
    Tim: As you cannot possibly know whether those who did not vote would have done so in the same proportions as those who did, would you support a second referendum purely based on the FACTS of post-negotiations and agreed conditions of Brexit? ALL voters could then make an informed choice, should they choose to do so.

    I don’t think that I have ever tried to claim that non-voters belong in one camp or the other. I’m merely concerned that they and their democratic rights for representation are being totally ignored by the Brexiteer camp. If they cannot or feel unable to make their voice heard and Brexiteers refuse their elected representatives a say, that is just as cynical as the former Soviet Union and other states holding sham elections as if voters had a choice and could influence events. We should be better than that. If Parliamentarians really intended for a referendum to be conducted on the basis of lies and false information (from whatever source), leading to a flawed minority vote either way, they should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty!

  • would you support a second referendum purely based on the FACTS of post-negotiations and agreed conditions of Brexit? ALL voters could then make an informed choice, should they choose to do so.

    Voters made an informed choice the last time. I wouldn’t support a second referendum simply because it would cost a lot of money to simply return the same result, which seems wasteful to me. Does it not seem wasteful to you?

  • John Hall

    “If they [MP’s], cannot or feel unable to make their voice heard and Brexiteers refuse their elected representatives a say…”

    It’s not possible for Brexiteers to refuse MP’s their say. MP’s are free to vote down the invocation of Article 50 if the wish,.. but it is the democratic right of voters to choose in subsequent elections, whether they feel their MP has represented their wishes, or gone against their wishes,…. and vote accordingly.?

    If a representative MP, chooses [freely], to stop representing their constituency, it would be advisable for them to dust off their CV. That’s how democracy works, and should work.

  • @John Hall
    Hi John
    “, can I have your definition of “democracy” if not “rule by ALL the people, usually through elected representatives”? I don’t see a referendum win on 28% of the people voting as fitting in with this.”
    I don’t want to go over old ground and repeat myself; i have been asked this question previously on this thread and have stated what my beliefs on democracy are.
    On day to day government I believe in representative democracy, on issues of referendum I believe it is direct democracy and a simple majority of 50%+1, I do not believe in enhanced majorities. As someone else pointed out on this thread, Liberal democrats never objected to the AV referendum being based on a simple majority and would have been quite happy to see changes made to our voting system had they of won on a simple 50%+1 vote, so i find it incredibly hypocritical for them to now demand that this EU referendum result was undemocratic as the majority was not large enough i.e. 2/3.
    “I don’t think that I have ever tried to claim that non-voters belong in one camp or the other. I’m merely concerned that they and their democratic rights for representation are being totally ignored by the Brexiteer camp. If they cannot or feel unable to make their voice heard and Brexiteers refuse their elected representatives a say”
    I accept that a small proportion of those voters would have been unable to vote due to sickness or disability or unforeseen circumstances, however, I do not believe there votes would have made any difference to the results as there is no reason to believe there votes would not have split the same way as the rest of the votes. With regards to the larger portion of voters who did not vote due to what I am calling out as apathy and I do stand by that, they chose to abstain on the vote, probably because they were not overly concerned one way or the other of the results. Therefore it is entirely democratic for the referendum result to be accepted on a simple majority of 50%+1

  • Matt et al: As the son and granson of miners, stepson of a miner, whose uncles were miners and aunts daughters of miners, I think I understand the mindset of ordinary, working class people unlike (?middle-class) anoraks like you who have the cheek to call the less educated, struggling working class in particular, as “apathetic”. These are effectively disenfranchised as they rely on well-educated and informed representatives to represent them. The latter have given decision-making over Europe to a minority called “Brexiteers”. You appear to favour a system which deliberately favours anoraks on the one hand and positively generates apathy among a statistically significant number of potential voters. I think the term is “gerrymandering”, or somthing close to it. But that’s OK to you “democrats”.

  • J Dunn. Are you so keen to rubbish my views that you misquote me as saying: ” If (MPs) can’t make their voices heard and Brexiteers ignore THEIR elected representatives….”
    I was referring to the way that democracy is said to work, with MP’s representing all their constituents’ views – something Brexiteers seem keen to subvert.

  • Tim: Your fellow Brexiteers – all 28% of them – may have made “an informed choice” basecd on their favourite reading matter. The majority clearly did not, including most of my family. Of course you dare not support a second referendum based on actual, factual negotiated results of the leaving process, Misrepresenting these might be beyond even you Brexiteers! As for wasteful polls: what price democracy?

  • @John Hall

    ““ I think I understand the mindset of ordinary, working class people unlike (?middle-class) anoraks like you who have the cheek to call the less educated, struggling working class in particular, as “apathetic”
    Have you not learnt your lesson from casting aspersions on someone who you know nothing about? You insulted me yesterday accusing me of not understanding the difficulties of people with mental health disorders, when it was pointed out to you that I suffer personally from severe mental health conditions, you lacked the graciousness to apologise, which i chose to ignore. Now you accuse me of a being an out of touch middle class anorak who does not understand the needs of the working class. Well for your information,
    I am traditional working class. I was born and brought up in a council estate. My father was a HGV lorry driver, my mother worked in catering. I never went to University. I did have a brief period where i moved into what could be classed as middle class i guess {though I would always regards myself as working class} as I managed to suppress my mental health for while and I was a Landlord of a Pub /Nightclub, however, mental health deteriorated to such levels that i had to give up work entirely over a decade ago.
    I am pretty raw at you for accusing me of saying that “less educated, struggling working class in particular, as “apathetic”” I have never said any such thing and i do not appreciate the insinuation. I accepted that there was a number of sick, disabled people and some through unforeseeable circumstances who were unable to vote and I should have been more thoughtful in my post. However, the larger proportion of those that did not vote, yes I did say they lacked apathy in the referendum and I stand by that. This has nothing to do with social class, this group of people would have been made up of people from all sections of society, working, middle and upper classes I would imagine. You are trying to make it in to something it isn’t
    You really should not throw around accusations about people you know absolutely nothing about. I am more than happy to tell anyone a bit more about my background and who I am {within reason} there really is no need for this rudeness though.”

  • John’
    Intitially, I had some respect for your views. However you clearly have no respect for the leave voters so deserve none in return. The fact is there will be no second referendum. Both Labour and the Conservatives are very clear about this. So there are not enough votes to support your argument. All you are doing is stressing about what might have been if the referendum had followed different rules and pumping yourself up with false hope. Brexit will happen no matter how you feel about it.

  • Glenn, If you persist in buzzing round a beehive don’t be too surprised if you get the occasional sting.

    Haven’t you got anything better to do than getting a buzz out trying to irritate people on here ? Homework perhaps ?

  • David,
    I’m an adult and a Lib Dem Voter, one of the 30% of lib Dems who voted leave. Haven’t you got anything more up your sleave than insults. Coz, you do it all the time.
    and you not even good it.

  • Dear All, I admit to having no respect for people who purport to speak for any class of people especially without being elected by them. Also those who accept a situation where a minority vote is classed as “the will of the people” and being “democratic”. If suffragettes had sat back and taken such drivel from those in power and their supporters, many people would still not be able to vote merely because they happened to be women. The fact is I have every respect for Leave voters. Most of my (elderly) close friends voted “Leave”. What I really cannot stand is the pretence that the Referendum and its result represented some excercise in “democracy” and you tories will never pursuade me otherwise.

  • Hi Matt, Glad you’re in the club, but I’m disappointed that you answer the personal references only to the exclusion of the main points. Can you SERIOUSLY expect all normal people to put their lives on hold in order to devote a ridiculous amount of time to understanding the political, economic and social implications of Brexit? Geniuses like Gove, Johnson, Cameron etc with their armies of advisors have made some serious gaffs. Why do you expect so much more from the man in the street?

  • @John Hall

    “Can you SERIOUSLY expect all normal people to put their lives on hold in order to devote a ridiculous amount of time to understanding the political, economic and social implications of Brexit? ”
    Please define “normal”
    I have a question for you.
    Every 5 years we have an election to elect out Government and members of Parliament to represent us on a Local, National and International front.
    In most constituencies, people have a choice from voting Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, UKIP, etc. Do you expect them to consider the political, economical and social implications of voting that MP and party into Government? Do you expect them to learn every single manifesto of every single party before making such an important decision that can effect the future of the country? Because that would take a ridiculous amount of time to understand. So I would suggest No.
    Do you think electing a party to Government for the next five years is any less important than voting for Brexit? My opinion is they are as equally important.
    Decisions taking by a government over a 5 year parliament can have huge consequences for a country for decades to come if that governments polices are bad.

    “I’m disappointed that you answer the personal references only to the exclusion of the main points.”
    I am disappointed that an apology is not forthcoming, when you have now on a couple of occasions made personal assumptions and accusations about me that are completely untrue, but hey, I guess we don’t all get what we want all of the time.

  • Matt,
    It’s pointless arguing. The lines are fixed.

  • Hi Matt: It saddens me to say that your last posting displays some wild assumptions in a not-very-clever attempt to justify your stand. Point One: both I, (a voter) and the party itself agree to the Party’s political, economic and social policies. If anyone were to vote for a party, and by extension the candidate or vice versa, one really should know, (if only in general terms), that party’s policies and, in some areas, a particular approach may be sufficient to earn a voter’s backing. Of course I expect voters to have this knowledge and party sympathy!
    MY view is that voting for the next Government is, by a long way more important than voting for Brexit. If a sensible, more democratic Government were elected, it should in my opinion, a) Seriously consider doing ALL it can to avoid hard Brexit, and b) have sovereign power over Brexit returned to a Parliament whose members vote according to what they believe to be in the best interests of ALL of their constituents and to the whole country.
    I Can’t believe that you continue to hold that it is in any way right that the negotiated position of the minority (Brexiteer voters) should not be at the very least,be put before the people’s elected representatives for a Vote of Approval or otherwise.
    I really am not prepared to accept that you think this “undemocratic”. You may be a tory Brexiteer and not prepared to give up the unfair advatage you claim by avoiding the democratic mandate that Parliament only can confer

  • I don’t agree that you have considered this aspect of the debate:

    Hi Matt: It saddens me to say that your last posting displays some wild assumptions in a not-very-clever attempt to justify your stand. Point One: both I, (a voter) and the party itself agree to the Party’s political, economic and social policies. If anyone were to vote for a party, and by extension the candidate or vice versa, one really should know, (if only in general terms), that party’s policies and, in some areas, a particular approach may be sufficient to earn a voter’s backing. Of course I expect voters to have this knowledge and party sympathy!
    MY view is that voting for the next Government is, by a long way more important than voting for Brexit. If a sensible, more democratic Government were elected, it should in my opinion, a) Seriously consider doing ALL it can to avoid hard Brexit, and b) have sovereign power over Brexit returned to a Parliament whose members vote according to what they believe to be in the best interests of ALL of their constituents and to the whole country.
    I Can’t believe that you continue to hold that it is in any way right that the negotiated position of the minority (Brexiteer voters) should not be at the very least,be put before the people’s elected representatives for a Vote of Approval or otherwise.
    I really am not prepared to accept that you think this “undemocratic”. You may be a tory Brexiteer and not prepared to give up the unfair advatage you claim by avoiding the democratic mandate that Parliament only can confer

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 11th Jan '17 - 7:49am

    John Hall, Several times, in your arguments with Matt and others, you have claimed that only 28 percent of the electorate voted Leave. That is incorrect, surely. 28 percent is the percentage who did not vote. Wasn’t it something like 37 percent of the total electorate who voted Leave, and something like 34 percent who voted Remain? But, as with any election, as everyone had the opportunity to vote, it is only fair to go by the percentage of those who actually voted – 52 percent for Leave and 48 percent for Remain.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 11th Jan '17 - 8:00am

    John Hall, Also, I really think you should make an apology to Matt for the inaccurate assumptions you have made about him, which he has understandably found very hurtful.

  • Peter Watson 11th Jan '17 - 10:08am

    @John Hall
    Our elected representatives, including Lib Dems, in the House of Commons decided on our behalf to hold the In/Out referendum on EU membership. For many years Lib Dems have campaigned for just such an In/Out referendum, albeit more recently wanting it to be triggered by different circumstances, so the principle of asking voters to vote on a single complicated issue (not just EU membership) is something that we have regularly endorsed as Lib Dem voters.
    In 2015 voters elected a majority Conservative government that pledged:
    “We will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in the EU. And then we will ask the British people whether they want to stay in on this basis, or leave. We will honour the result of the referendum, whatever the outcome.”
    I understand that you wish the referendum had delivered a different result, but this seems to be exactly the sort of representative democracy in action that you are calling for.

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland

    Thank you, I appreciate that

    @Peter Watson
    Absolutely spot on.

    @John Hall

    You have contradicted yourself in your post 11th Jan ’17 – 2:34am from your previous post 10th Jan ’17 – 4:27pm
    On voting for Brexit you say “Can you SERIOUSLY expect all normal people to put their lives on hold in order to devote a ridiculous amount of time to understanding the political, economic and social implications of Brexit?”

    But on Voting for a General Election you say “If anyone were to vote for a party, and by extension the candidate or vice versa, one really should know, (if only in general terms), that party’s policies and, in some areas, a particular approach may be sufficient to earn a voter’s backing. Of course I expect voters to have this knowledge and party sympathy!
    MY view is that voting for the next Government is, by a long way more important than voting for Brexit.”

    So you expect a Voter to spend their time and to get the knowledge so they know all the positions of ALL the political parties they can chose from for a General Election, due to the importance and implications
    But on a Brexit decision it is unreasonable to ask the same people to spend the time getting to know the arguments of both campaigns and come to a decision, even though you do not think the brexit decision is as important as a General Election decision

    That seems very muddled thinking to me.

    On a final note, you now go for another assumption and call me a Tory.

    I am more than happy for people to ask me personal questions about myself, my beliefs and affiliations {which i dont have} in a polite and respectful manor, however, I am no longer prepared to tolerate your accusations. So until you can moderate your language and learn to engage with a more respectful approach, I am no longer prepared to engage with you and answer your political questions.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland: Hi, I take your point about possibly being too hard on Matt. However, I at 62 years old am more than a little disgruntled that my vote has never counted in the election of an MP. I have been denied this on the basis of arguments along the lines of those used by Matt, ie that our elections are fair because the largest minority won. Would it be fair to be forced to live under Sharia law because muslim extremists won all constituencies on the basis of 20% plus one vote in every seat (with) at least five candidates were standing? Of course not!
    I’m sorry Matt, but whose hurt is greatest: mine for being denied a fair voice all my life or yours for having the faults in your arguments pointed out? I hope you accept this criticism in the way intended and come to accept the need for true majority voting under Fair Votes. Best Wishes JH

  • Peter Watson: Lib-Dems may have campaigned for a Referendum on EU membership. I don’t accept this as meaning that we would or should have accepted and implimented result based on a simple majority – especially if, (say), only 50% of the electorate actually voted! Nor should we have proposed a binding referendum where campaigns were conducted on the basis of lies and mis-information on a scale we could not have foretold, (- and even murder of an MP on one side of the argument!). A lot of people may have been conned into voting one way or the other.
    Likewise I don’t give a toss what a “majority” Conservative government pledged, when their proportion of the vote was only about 36%, and about 26% of the electorate. I am NOT espousing this kind of representative democracy, but it has to be better than ceding power to an even smaller minority called “Brexiteers, and even supporters of f-p-t-p should find it hard to argue that 28% of the population, (or even forty or forty-five percent) is enough to risk the destruction of the UK, politically, economically and socially. Too many “democrats” do not think about what they actually mean by “democracy”, accepting the manure with which they have been fed over the years. It might “work” where there is only two options, but is being limited to two choices “democracy” anyway?

  • @John Hall

    Would you have accepted the AV referendum result had it of won beings it was based on a simply majority of 50%+1 or would you have claimed it undemocratic and demanded it was rerun on an enhanced majority? Or would you actually be of the opinion that the AV referendum should not have taken place at all as you do not believe in referendums and it is not right to ask the electorate to spend the time to get the knowledge to understand how different systems work???

    “am more than a little disgruntled that my vote has never counted in the election of an MP” I do sympathise with your frustrations, trust me, as someone who has suffered from debilitating mental health most of my life, I know what it is like to feel that you do not have a voice. I have complete empathy with you on that.

    “I’m sorry Matt”
    I want to say thank you but I am not sure what you are apologising for and how sincere it is, you seem to be apologising for ” for having the faults in your arguments pointed out” Which I actually have no problem with at all, I welcome robust debate, that is how democracy works best. What I have a problem with is you have accused me on several times over the last couple of days of
    A) Lacking empathy with people who suffer from illness or disabilities: I pointed out to you that that was untrue as I am diagnosed with severe mental health disorders
    B) You accused me of not being able to relate to working class voters as I was an out of touch middle class Anorak: Again this was untrue as I am from working class roots
    C) Your latest assumption is that I am a Tory: Which again, could not be further from the truth
    I would have been more than happy if you had of constructed your comments in the framework of asking me the question on these matters rather than in the manor of making accusations like you did which were not only wrong, but were disrespectful and at times hurtful.

    This thread has turned into something it should never have done, which is regretful. I am not sure how constructive it would be now to continue engaging with it.
    The last thing I want to do is to bore people senseless with personal stuff and move away from the robust debate of brexit and the importance of it

  • Hi Matt, I hope you understand my frustrations with loose references to “democracy” as if everyone knows and accepts what is meant by it. Superficially some of your arguments seem to hold water. However, is it really FAIR to expect people, (apart from anoraks like us – and I include myself as one), to spend much of their spare time studying the pros and cons of Brexit in a few pre-Referendum weeks in order to make an informed judgement? The philosophies and policies of various political parties are things we grow up with and can read about or watch on TV or listen to on the radio every single day, (or even hour if one chose!) I submit that the two situations are not comparable, (and I hope not a smokescreen from you to deliberately try and justify the unjustifiable). Minority rule especially on matters concerning the unity of the UK and well-being of all The Queen’s subjects, is not something we should be encouraging.

  • Hi again Matt, I have already explained that I would have accepted any majority to change the voting system even to one which was fairer though not proportional like AV.
    If we are ever going to change things we must seize any means available to do it, (I’m prepared to accept that this should not mean the use of bombs or guns, but maybe we need to take a leaf out of the suffragettes’ book to bring the cause to public notice)
    Best wishes, John Hall

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 11th Jan '17 - 12:24pm

    John Hall, surely it is a bit inconsistent to say you would have accepted any majority, even a narrow one, in the AV vote, but you will not accept a narrow majority in the EU referendum.
    I’m not quite sure what you are suggesting when you talk about “taking a leaf out of the suffragettes’ book”. The suffragettes felt that they were justified in using rather extreme methods, as they were denied the vote, and therefore could not bring about change by democratic means. Today, we would not have the same justification for using extreme or undemocratic means, as all adults do have the vote.

  • Daniel Walker 11th Jan '17 - 1:48pm

    @Catherine Jane Crosland “John Hall, surely it is a bit inconsistent to say you would have accepted any majority, even a narrow one, in the AV vote, but you will not accept a narrow majority in the EU referendum.

    I don’t presume to speak for John, (or necessarily agree with him on other matters; Sorry John!) but there is a distinction: reversibility. An electoral system change can be reversed relatively straightforwardly (with the obvious caveat that representatives elected under System X do have a vested interest in maintaining System X, but that’s no different to whatever System X replaced) whereas leaving the EU is difficult to reverse, and reversing back to our present excellent deal is almost certainly impossible. Conversely, if the EU Referendum had been “Remain”, we could still leave five years’ hence if the government of the day so decided. The situations are therefore not equivalent, so John’s position is not inconsistent.

  • Peter Watson 11th Jan '17 - 1:50pm

    @John Hall
    In essence, your views seem to boil down to the quote from Thoreau: “Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one“.
    Unfortunately, when it comes down to EU membership there are people on both sides convinced they are “more right” and there is no unbiased arbiter to judge objectively the merits of the arguments, so we are left with trying to determine democratically which side “wins”.
    There seems to be consensus that every way we can think of to quantify the number of people who share an opinion is flawed and unrepresentative. Perhaps counting the responses to a yes/no question and declaring the majority as the winner is the simplest and least worst option.
    But the time to argue the merits of a referendum, to debate the interpretation of the result, to include obstacles like the requirement for a supermajority, etc. is before the referendum is held. The case being made by many Lib Dems and Remainers now simply looks like an undemocratic response by sore losers. Given the dismal Remain campaign before the referendum and the unedifying reaction since, I fear that the chances of avoiding, reversing or softening Brexit have consistently been undermined by those claiming to oppose it.

  • Peter Wilson, Hi, “trying to decide democratically which side wins” ? Simple! it is the majority (of The People). Personally, I’m not into sucking up to non-democrats and my mostly Tory friends are made aware of my views when they talk of “majorities”. I will never accept a vote of 28% or even 45% in favour of change or for industrial action, as being a “majority” with as Daniel Walker points out, an irreversible result.
    Catherine, you have clearly missed my point(s). What is the use of a vote when it may as well have been left in the box and, (as too often the majority of votes do), counts for nothing. I have never had a vote that counts in the election of a Parliamentary representative: not even as my second, third or fourth choice. We need
    Fair Votes and – like the suffragette movement – protests to achieve that. Do I throw myself under the Queen’s horse at the Derby, or use the ballot box and the Armalite as IRA supporters did? (I’m no woman).
    I wish you all well. I didn’t realise the extent of semi-democrats in the Lib-Dems. I’m off to find myself a dealer in sub-machine guns.

  • jedibeeftrix 11th Jan '17 - 5:21pm

    @ John – “even supporters of f-p-t-p should find it hard to argue that 28% of the population, (or even forty or forty-five percent) is enough to risk the destruction of the UK, politically, economically and socially.”

    Have you considered that brexiteers believe their vote will bring about a more representative and accountable form of governance? A more legitmate form of governance.

    @ Daniel – “but there is a distinction: reversibility. An electoral system change can be reversed relatively straightforwardly whereas leaving the EU is difficult to reverse, and reversing back to our present excellent deal is almost certainly impossible.”

    Have you considered that a lack of reversibility is precisely why some brexiteers voted to leave? For in the elements of governance that fall under the aquis cease to be subject to democratic self governance as they see it.

  • Of course (some) Brexiteers think all will be rosy, but if they’re wrong a lot of people will suffer and the UK may be in pieces

  • and what if it works out a lot better (as perceived by the Brexit voters + casual remain voters)? Don’t forget that a lot of people voted Leave as they literally `had nothing to lose`.

    The real issue isn’t just Leave vs Remain it’s how the political culture became so divorced from reality that it failed to deal with the central issue of the day `how, in a globalised world, do you lift everyone out of poverty especially those left behind`.

    The fact that the Lib Dems don’t even seem to think there’s a problem is rather damning. Even if you don’t think migration is a problem surely you should have policies that deal with that subject?

    My guess is that the Lib Dems are so obsessed with staying in the EU they have lost sight of other issues. I think it’s because they are in paralysis about Brexit clutching to the EU eurocentric economic model umbilical cord they cannot evolve their own policy making. It’s crushed their innovative imagination. It’s a crutch that is letting down the people that need them most.

  • I wish we could move by the “left behind stuff”. The reality is that Britain has had a strong Eurosceptic bent since about 1979 or so. Most of the Leave vote was older and mostly in rural and suburban England. Parts of the Left are scratching their heads because it turns out that Labour does not control its voters with special magical community powers and thus enough people in labour seats also don’t like the EU to have tipped the vote. Urban areas and youngsters suffer more from the effects of globalisation than older people and villages. But youngsters areas so down trodden they’ve developed a kind of Stockholm syndrome that makes them think the neoliberals and the EU are there friend. Even though you are on a zero hour contract, or one of the millions of unemployed across the continent, can’t afford your own place, and are up to your eyeballs in debt please support unifying platitudes because the EU really really cares a lot.

  • Hi James, I agree totally with what you say, but as a democrat, I believe that a true majority needs to be pursuaded of the need for change, As it is not practical to expect all people to devote sufficient time to understanding the implications, especially those with little interest or ability in the subject, various disabilities and other traumas, then the decision needs to be left to elected representatives with greater understanding and resources. I would be prepared to accept an enhanced popular majority of (say) two-thirds in favour of change, just as is required of trade unions for industrial action as this is more likely to reflect the true will of “the people”.

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