Author Archives: Chris Park

Second Referendum? When was the first one?

If there was a referendum asking voters to choose between continued membership of the EU under the current agreement, or with a settled deal between Britain and the EU after we’ve left, then I must have been on holiday when it took place!

On the 23rd of June 2016 there was a referendum and people voted for something – that much we know.

After a campaign that was described as having “glaring democratic deficiencies” by the Electoral Reform Society, people voted to leave the European Union.  They did so for a variety of reasons.  Some thought it would reduce immigration, others believed they would get more money for the NHS, and some did so based on vague and indefinable notions of sovereignty.

Everyone voted in good faith. It’s wrong to accuse Leave voters of not knowing what they were voting for, or not understanding what they were doing – everyone makes decisions based on how they interpret their own reality.

However nobody can possibly predict the consequences that will now ensue because of this decision.

A referendum on the final Brexit deal is essential.

This wouldn’t be a ‘second ‘referendum because there never was a first referendum on a negotiated deal.

In order for people to vote sensibly in a binary referendum then, surely – with an urgent appeal to common sense – you have to give them two options that can be directly compared and scrutinised against each other.  The 2016 vote failed to do this.  It was a campaign of sentiment not fact: a saga presented as zealous nationalism VS apocalyptic defeatism (‘Project Fear’), and zealous nationalism brought them out to princely turnout sum of 72.2% and won the day.

Brexit is likely but it is not inevitable.  Public opinion could change everything.

So far there is a growing trend where people think it was wrong to leave the EU. This is happening because as the negations proceed, it becomes apparent that untangling ourselves from the a union we’ve been a part of for decades is a lot more complicated than what was sold to us in the campaign.   

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments

Rejoice for Australia! But referendums on social issues must not be the new normal

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The majority of Australians have backed equal marriage in a postal vote survey: 61.5% of Aussies endorsed the rights of LGBT+ citizens. It is now over to the Australian parliament to implement the will of the people.

LGBT+ Aussies and allies rejoice after a deserved victory. But it is sad that this referendum had to happen at all.

I realise that to most, holding the referendum was just sensible politics and a civilised means to settle a debate in a democracy. But this vote really was petty: someone’s private relationship is neither a political or democratic concern. It’s not something to be deliberated on by the masses; you’re dealing with people’s profound personal identities and relationships – things that are fundamental to their lives.  Someone’s basic right to exist as themselves in society is not another ‘issue of the day’.

It is completely mad that an anonymous same-sex couple living somewhere in Australia who want to get married had to consult the entire voting population of the country.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Discovering Conference

Last Saturday, 11th November, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Autumn conference was held  in Dunfermline. It’s fitting our conference returns to this historic Scottish town as Scotland has always been a liberal country at heart: Braveheart, after all, was about freedom, more than nationalism.

This was my first party conference and I was immediately struck by how homely and welcoming the event was. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are a close-knit party – one advantage of being small in number (in comparison to other parties) – where old friends are reunited and strangers are simply undiscovered new friends.

The agenda was packed and diverse. One of the highlights included hearing from the WASPI women. They told us their personal experiences when they unexpectedly discovered they would not get their state pension when they thought they would after the age was raised to 65 to align with mens’. Many women are now struggling and having to take up part-time jobs or take out loans to get by until they can receive their pension. The conference rightfully voted for measures to put justice for the WASPI women on the Lib Dem agenda.

Willie Rennie, Jo Swinson, Alistair Carmichael, Christine Jardine and Alex-Cole Hamilton invigorated party members with articulate, powerful speeches – all of us returned to our constituencies with a renewed sense of purpose and belief in Liberal Democrat values.  

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 2 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSean Hyland 18th Dec - 1:22am
    Never been a fan of Farage. Guessing that he will, as he has always done, be certain to look after number 1 - himself.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 18th Dec - 1:17am
    Peter Watson the article makes the same point about cherry picking polls whatever side of the debate you are on and the need to look...
  • User AvatarRoland 18th Dec - 1:04am
    @Sheila Gee - "Farage has served this country very well, and deserves his pension and retirement." Firstly, Farage and UKIP have not served this country...
  • User AvatarMartin 18th Dec - 12:41am
    Matt: What was leaves vision for the UK outside the EU? Do tell, because if it ever existed, it seems to have been completely forgotten....
  • User AvatarMichael BG 18th Dec - 12:33am
    @ Joe Bourke I don’t understand why you object to exempting those owner occupiers who have an income lower than the poverty level. I hate...
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 18th Dec - 12:17am
    Should be "notice to *quit*", obviously.