Author Archives: John Barrett

Why I will vote No in a referendum

Back in 2013, I wrote an article for the Scotsman newspaper outlining what issues were important to me in deciding what way to vote in the then upcoming Independence referendum.

In the end I decided to vote Yes, as at that time I believed the risks involved were worth taking. Nearly ten years on, the circumstances are now quite different and if, as proposed yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon, there is another referendum next year, I would now vote No.

It is very unlikely that the Supreme Court will confirm legality on the new proposals, as it is clear to even the SNP, that without the consent of Westminster the Scottish Parliament will not be able to hold a lawful referendum and as the SNP have already declared that they will then make the next Westminster election a single issue campaign on independence, there is time to consider what is the best way forward. We have seen before how splitting the vote on any single issue can let a party with a minority of the votes win first past the post elections on that issue.

Firstly, we need to understand why the SNP will never give up on their demands for a referendum on independence. It is similar to Liberals wanting a fair voting system and losing a referendum on it. A fair electoral system is at the heart of our beliefs, and regardless of how little support other parties, or the public give electoral reform, we will never give up our call for a system where those elected fairly represent the way people have voted. The SNP have a similar core belief, but they depend on the lack of a fair electoral system to deliver it for them.

There will also be support from those who oppose independence, for a referendum, as the best way to give the public their say and to deal with the question which has dominated Scottish politics for many years. It is a debate that will not go away by refusing to have it.

Since 2014 much has changed, not least the fact of Brexit.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

How to fund the BBC?

At a time when fewer young people watch live TV or any TV at all, and older people are concerned about the future of their free licences, it is now time to rethink, seriously, how the BBC is funded.

For people, like me, who also subscribe to a news package and can compare BBC News with a range of alternative, I now rarely, if ever, watch BBC News. Those who say the BBC News is the best in the world have probably not watched the alternatives available.

Much of my other TV entertainment is through subscriptions to Netflix and Prime, and while I can afford to pay for the licence, if I could not, I would understand more those struggling to pay it and campaigning to get rid of a tax on something they do not want, or use.

We all indeed pay lots of taxes for things we do not use but accept they are worth it.

The NHS is a good example, for many healthy people, and while those with no children, or children in private education, might object to paying for schools, most would accept that schools are necessary, as is the NHS. The BBC does not fall into that same category of being an essential service – anymore.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 57 Comments

Is it time to ditch referendums?

Embed from Getty Images
Is it now time to accept that referendums are no way to decide anything? Or is it time to say that they should only be used, if the result produces a clear majority, of say two thirds of the voters, or 50% of the entire electorate?

The decision to use a referendum to decide major constitutional issues has always appeared, in the past, to be the sensible way to tackle those issues, as people vote at General Elections on a wide range of issues and it was thought that a referendum would give a clear answer on a single issue.

The UK remaining in the EU, or Scotland leaving the UK have both been put to a referendum where the side getting 50% of the vote could claim victory, but it was clear in both cases that people would vote each way for a variety of reasons on both issues, leaving the question, “What is the point of a referendum if it doesn’t clearly answer the question put?”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 56 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Fiona
    Boris Johnson is racist and sexist and a habitual liar. If our ambitions are limited by the actions of recent Prime Ministers are we suggesting that LibDems are...
  • Andrew Hickey
    "I am sure there are some extremists on the GC side, but, if you use the definition of GC that I have found, a very large number of UK residents are GC. And I d...
  • Richard Gadsden
    I should add at this point that there were two further constitutional amendments that I submitted to the cancelled Autumn Conference (one adding young people to...
  • David Garlick
    @Martin I agree entirely. Well almost. Those under 30 yoa will suffer and suffer badly from Climate Change. I want our Party to be like King (then Prince' Charl...
  • John McHugo
    Very interesting to read this, Paul. And thank you for these very personal reminiscences. I, too, opposed the war - and it was ultimately what led me to the Lib...