Tag Archives: eu referendum

The 2017 general election – the much overlooked rebalancing of British democracy

The British Election Study has been issuing data concerning the 2017 election based on their “face-to-face” process. They maintain, for example, that the much-acclaimed “Youthquake” of 2017 was in fact a myth.

But I was very interested in this graph, tweeted by James Kanagasooriam:

There are a number of conclusions to be drawn from this graph. Much has been made of the fact that the Tories had quite a chunk of Remainers voting for them – particularly in the South of the country.

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Responding to Labour Remain

Recently a friend and Liberal Democrat activist showed me an email from Labour Remain — formed in the last few weeks and claiming significant support. This comes on the back of a survey showing that 78% of Labour members disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to a referendum on the terms of Brexit. How should we respond?

Brexit is a profound threat to British values, the economy and the very integrity of the United Kingdom. In that sense it needs us all to pull together.

The country is in a crisis. We have been so intertwined with the rest of Europe, for so long, that the referendum result has had a deeply destructive effect on public life. Parliament seems paralised. Andrew Adonis has written of a Brexit-induced “nervous breakdown” in Whitehall. The Conservatives and Labour seem massively dysfunctional. There are stories of moderate councillors in both parties being de-selected. Most of the pro-Remain majority in the Commons is silent or vanquished. My excitement over the formation of Labour Remain is more than a little tempered by the lurch to the Left in their recent National Executive Committee elections and stories of MPs being threatened with de-selection. Faced with Brexit, this has all the wisdom of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We need to think differently.

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The Expiry Date of a Referendum Result

There are two democratic principles that, taken together, demand a referendum on the deal. The first is that a democratic decision should be enforced, and the second is that no democratic decision has an indefinite mandate.

The first principle, taken alone, is being used by the Conservatives and Labour to oppose a referendum on the deal. This is the argument:

In 2015 the Conservatives won the general election promising a referendum. The 2015 parliament voted to hold this referendum. In 2016 a referendum was held. In 2017 the same parliament voted to trigger Article 50.

The process has constitutional legitimacy at every stage.

What …

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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Mar - 2:11pm
    @ Jennie sorry, Jennie lass.
  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 21st Mar - 2:11pm
    It seems anything goes as long as we leave the eu, thus fulfilling the will of the people. The government have got themselves in a...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Mar - 2:05pm
    Oh, dear. here we go again. John Marriott is completely right. The post from Mr Morrison is flawed from the start by including a statutory...
  • User AvatarLiberal 21st Mar - 1:43pm
    @Lorenzo The idea would be to streamline the system so we'd no longer be electing 2 sets of MPs - 1 for the Assembly and...
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 21st Mar - 1:41pm
    Bill le Breton I resigned my party membership when Charles Kennedy was forced to resign. I didn't agree with the direction the party was heading...
  • User AvatarWilliam Fowler 21st Mar - 1:13pm
    We already have two sets of MPs from Scotland and Wales, the idea that what the country needs is yet another layer of overpaid politicians...