Tag Archives: eu referendum

Wisdom of the Crowd

e voting screenDuring the Article 50 vote, I found myself tweeting quotes from a famous speech made by Edmund Burke, who was a Whig MP and Political Philosopher in the 1700’s, on representative democracy.

In his speech to the electors of Bristol in 1774, he said that government and legislation are matters of reason and judgement and must not be decided by opinion and inclination. The quote I used to underline the point that MPs who believe Brexit is wrong should not vote to trigger Article 50 was, “Your representative

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Brexit Break-up

Liberal Democrat opinion seems to be moving towards an expectation that sometime in 2018, the Brexit process will collapse. They argue that the government is divided and their negotiations are seen as chaotic. Some suggest that Tory divisions will bring the PM down and are likely lead to a general election.

We should remember that this is the same party which ran us out of town in 2015. This is the party with more financial backing than we could dream of. Most of all, Tory MPs do not want to lose their …

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A referendum on the Brexit deal is key, not growing other parties.

You know, I never understood why you gun control people don’t all join the NRA. They’ve got two million members. You bring three million to the next meeting, call a vote. All those in favour of tossing guns… bam! Move on.

It is one of the most memorable lines in every political anorak’s favourite TV show, The West Wing. Although steeped in high fantasy, the strategy from Congressman Skinner does present some food for thought – if you want to defeat your enemy, why not do it from within? It’ll be less bloody, it may even mean a quicker and more efficient way to smash your political nemesis into irrelevance.

These sentiments, in some part, were echoed by my friend and former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg in the Observer. In his comment piece he states that anti-Brexit Labour-inclined voters, and their Conservative counterparts, should join their respective parties to change the direction of each organisation and, in turn, the future of the country.

These voters, argues Nick, should then lobby their MPs, leaders and change the debate at conferences to make sure that Britain’s spiral into a Brexit self-harm is stopped.

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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.

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get more complicated

Yesterday I posted a tongue in cheek tweet:

Leavers will obviously be happy with the outcome, because it restores sovereignty to Parliament, which is what they campaigned for.

It is never a good idea to use irony in social media, especially as it now appears that Stephen Phillips, a Leaver, is leaving Parliament to protest about the Government’s approach to the concept of Parliamentary sovereignty.

If this is correct then it shows that he is a principled Leaver and that he understands that the issue of Parliamentary sovereignty covers all issues – not just Brexit.

I would like to have been able to post …

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A voice for the voiceless

I had written a speech for the European motion at conference, and I wanted to share it with you all:

I was going to tell you about how angry I was.

I was going to talk about how the Leave campaign lied, how they cheated, how they preyed on fear, and how fear won.

I was going to demand we take action.

I was going to implore you to stand fast in your support for internationalism and your support for Britain’s membership of the EU.

But then I remembered that it isn’t just about us, that it isn’t just about the 16 million people who voted for an open and tolerant nation.

It is about our friends and neighbours, the 3 million EU nationals who live and work with us in Britain who never had a voice during the referendum.

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Migrants: Welcome and fear

Recently I was out with some Bishop’s Stortford Liberal Democrats, gathering signatures on a petition for citizens of other EU nations currently in the UK to be allowed to remain in the UK. In a few hours we gathered just over 250 signatures on a not-that-busy street. Some were delighted to sign. Some were relieved that we were not taking the opposite position. Some said their businesses would struggle without people from other parts of the EU.

More worrying was the small minority who disagreed, loudly wanting foreigners to “go home”. A prize for confusion goes to the person who said that, and then added that she wanted to retire to France.

Then came an apparently-xenophobic attack on two Poles in Harlow and Theresa May’s assertion that curbing immigration will take priority over access to the single market in Brexit talks. She must know this is unrealistic: freedom of movement is one of the pillars of the single market and Switzerland’s access to EU programmes was curtailed after they sought to restrict migration.

The sense of farce is heightened by a survey from British Future saying that only a third of people think the government will meet its immigration targets over the next five years and a claim from Boris Johnson that people didn’t vote Leave because of immigration.

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