Tag Archives: eu referendum bill

Implications of the European Union Referendum Bill

We have all heard about the European Union Referendum Bill but I suspect most do not realise how close we are to it becoming law. Whether you are a Europhile or Europhobe, you may be interested to know that the Bill will be getting its 3rd reading in the Lords today (1 Dec), after which there will be no more opportunity for the introduction of any new amendments.

I have to confess that I live in a household of Europhiles. My husband spent the early part of his life between aged 2 and 11 living in France, then Netherlands, as his late father was the English Head of the AFCENT International School for families of NATO. My in-laws subsequently retired in France and my step mother-in-law still lives there. She will sadly be barred from voting in the EU Referendum even though it could affect her right to continue to live in France. Brits who have lived abroad for more than 15 years do not currently have the right to vote in any UK elections, let alone in the EU Referendum.

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Updated: Votes at 16: Paul Tyler’s speech in the Lords debate – and Government defeated 293-211

The Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords have done some fabulous work. It’s not just the tax credits vote recently, but the work they did in very difficult circumstances during the last government to challenge terrible Tory ideas. Add to that their campaigning work in the run up to the General Election and their constant visits to local parties (over 100 since the General Election) to help with the #libdemfightback.

Today is no exception. They are playing a blinder in the EU Referendum Bill debate arguing for votes at 16 and as such showing themselves to be far more in touch with reality than their counterparts on the government benches.

Update: And it worked! The Government was defeated by 293 votes to 211.

Tim Farron commented:

The Liberal Democrats have been fighting for this for decades, and we are winning the argument.

This is a victory for democracy, we will give over a million people a voice on their future.

In Scotland 16 and 17 year olds proved that they have they not only have the knowledge but also the enthusiasm to have a say on their own future. Taking that away now would do them an injustice.

The Government must now listen and act, Cameron cannot turn his back on 1.5 million young adults.

Paul Tyler led for us today and he added:

We cannot deny interested and engaged young adults such an important vote. This is a say in their future, and with Cameron ruling out future referendums, they won’t get a voice for a long time coming.

Today I am proud that we have taken a small step to improve our democracy following a campaign that the Liberal Democrats have led for decades.

Some of the arguments made by Tory peers were beyond ridiculous. Adolescents’ brains were still developing apparently. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the arguments about women’s brain size during debates on votes for women.

It’s up to the Government now to decide whether to keep this in . If it’s removed when the Bill goes back to the Commons, our peers will call a vote to reinstate it. If there is a stalemate, then the bill could be delayed by up to a year.

Here is Paul’s speech in full:

In Committee I thought that one of the most persuasive contributions – made from the Conservative benches opposite – was from the Noble Lord Lord Dobbs:

“ … the question I am struggling with is; How can it be right to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in a referendum on Scotland but not in a referendum on Europe? There has to be some sort of consistency.”

And he rubbished the official explanation that the extension of the franchise in the Scottish independence referendum did not originate with Conservative Ministers: “… although the coalition Government and the Prime Minister did not specifically approve votes for 16 year-olds, they did acquiesce in votes for 16 year-olds.”

He and others – notably an increasing number of Conservative MPs – have warned that we cannot pretend that Scottish young people are somehow more mature, well-informed and capable of exercising common-sense than their English, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts. I dare the Minister to repeat that absurdity.

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Votes at 16: Jonathan Court: 16 and 17 year olds are affected by Governments – we should have a say

Ahead of tonight’s vote in the House of Lords on giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Liberal Youth member Jonathan Court, who’s 17, explains why the issue is so important to him.

I missed the 2015 election by 15 months. Though all my friends around me could vote in the last election, I was stuck without a say. During the campaign I listened to debates, campaigned with other locals and met numerous politicians like Sadiq Khan and Nick Clegg.

16 and 17 year olds aren’t stereotypical drug-taking layabouts that have no interest in the things around them. Things like the education maintenance cuts, tuition fees rise and proposed child tax credit cuts really permeate into people’s discussions. 16 and 17 year olds aren’t stereotypical hard-left extremists either, however they are concerned about public funding cuts that affect them. And why shouldn’t they be? Everyone votes in their interest but young-disenfranchised people without a vote are being squashed by the baby boomers that can vote in their droves. Young people are being continuously robbed of responsibilities by this government, a mixture of cuts in grants to those who go to sixth forms while raising the school leaving age has left too many in limbo.

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Votes at 16: Isabelle Cherry: It’s our future, too

Ahead of the Lords vote on allowing 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum, Liberal Youth member Isabelle Cherry, who’s 17, says why this is so important to her.

A 16 year old says: “I think we should remain in the EU because membership gives us a say on how trading rules are set up”, to which a 46 year old replies: “you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re 16”. If the 16 year old’s argument was said by an older member of the community, the point would be scrutinised and debated, and ultimately taken seriously. Does who the person is validate, or in this case, invalidate their argument?

There would obviously, and quite rightly, be outcries of blatant discrimination if the 46 year old’s response was “you don’t know what you’re talking about because you’re a woman” or “because you’re black”. How come it is acceptable to reject the argument of the 16 year old on the grounds of their age, as opposed to the credibility of what they’re saying?

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Votes at 16 LibLink Special: Tim Farron: If you are old enough to fight, you are old enough to vote

Ahead of the crucial Lords vote this afternoon, Tim Farron has written for the Telegraph about why giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in the EU Referendum is so important:

He points out the logical flaws in the Government’s stance:

It is striking that the same people who argue people that generations of Brits “haven’t had a say” on the EU are now opposed to giving 16 year olds the right to vote. They seem to want democracy, but only the kind they like – or think will get the result they want.

Sixteen and seventeen year olds will have to live with the consequences of this huge decision for many years to come and to not give them a say, is simply, anti-democratic. This is why I support increasing the franchise.

He highlights the success of the Scottish precedent:

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Crucial day for Votes at 16 as Lords debate EU Referendum Bill

One of the best moments of the Scottish independence referendum last year for me was in the late afternoon on polling day. I was outside a polling station in Corstorphine watching streams of engaged 16 and 17 year olds, some of them still in school uniform, coming in to cast their votes. At the time, I thought how cruel it would be, after they had been such a positive part of the referendum, for them not to be allowed to vote on their UK Government 7 months later.

However, when it comes to the Scottish elections next May, my 16 year old will vote for the first time, for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

I’ve always believed in votes at 16, but the case for voting in the referendum was stronger than ever. The country was making a decision that would affect it forever, not just five years. It’s exactly the same with the EU Referendum, yet the Conservative Government refuses to give these young people their say. The House of Lords could change those plans today. It goes without saying that the Liberal Democrat peers will be supporting votes at 16. The case to do so is compelling. Joanne Ferguson, who’s 17, is a Liberal Youth member who voted for the first time in the referendum. She’s written for the Common Weal site to explain what that vote meant and has led to for her:

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Opinion: Looking forward to the EU referendum

 

With the legislation for the EU referendum now before parliament, that process is starting to feel real. I am thinking about what this might mean for Liberal Democrats, and the voice of liberal democracy.

In the General Election the consensus was not to campaign on Europe. That was probably wise, if counter-intuitive. Things are about to become very different.

In addition to the big question of which side will win, I had been thinking of the referendum in terms of its likely effect on the British political landscape — of the alliances that will form on both sides, and the possibility of splits in the Conservative party or defections leading to an early General Election, but am beginning to think more of this in terms of our distinctiveness.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 36 Comments

Coalition stooshie* as Tories refuse deal to get EU Referendum Bill debated

There’s been an almighty row in the Coalition over which Private Members Bills should be given government support.

The Liberal Democrats had offered the Tories a deal which would have given both Bob Neill’s Bill on an EU referendum and Andrew George’s on the Bedroom Tax a fair chance of becoming law. In return, the Tories offered the Liberal Democrats a deal under which only the EU Bill would have stood a chance. We’d have been daft to have let them away with it.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Wright 10th Aug - 11:06am
    Don't forget that local government elections in Scotland ALREADY use STV - part of the devolution measures worked out between Labour’s Robin Cook and Liberal...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 10th Aug - 11:03am
    "..... and since Boris Johnson is clearly not up to the job" The same thing was said about Ronald Reagan but he went down as...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 10th Aug - 10:36am
    It's unlikely that Labour will split, Nonconformistradical, for the same reason that the Conservatives didn't split when Boris Johnson was getting rid of his Chancellor...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 10th Aug - 10:30am
    " I am passionate about devolving power" Lib Dems are fond of saying this kind of thing. But what is really meant is the devolution...
  • User AvatarRabi Martins 10th Aug - 9:52am
    @Peter Hirst I partly agree with you that simply dwelling in the past will not being about the change we need But neither will ignoring...
  • User AvatarAndy Hyde 10th Aug - 9:41am
    Ian, I don’t think the situation has changed in the last 100 years, but the Sligo Corporation Act of 1918 a private bill, introduced STV...