Why it’s important to join the Lib Dems on the People’s Vote march on October 20th

Sometimes it’s hard to keep positive. As the evidence stacks up that Brexit is going to at the very least harm us and at worst mean food and drug shortages and ground flights, the Government continues to reject the democratic option of getting the people to mark its homework.

Accountability is vital in any democracy. This Government should be facing every day with more than a mild degree of trepidation. However, Jeremy Corbyn has not given them much in the way of bother at all.

There is a chance that a parliamentary alliance of moderate Labour and Tory MPs, us, Caroline Lucas and others could force through a People’s Vote. The problem with that theory is that the Tories have historically caved when the chips are down. Labour MPs fearing desolation may not dare defy Corbyn even if their local members want to. The SNP is holding the country to ransom. They will only back a People’s Vote if they get an independence referendum if Brexit wins.

Christine Jardine and Alex Cole-Hamilton took them to task on Twitter:

Willie Rennie pointed out that Sturgeon is going against the wishes of her membership.

A YouGov poll shows that 89% of SNP members support a People’s Vote and 79% think that the SNP should support it in Parliament.

Willie said:

Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have exhausted their excuse selection. Now that it’s clear the vast majority of SNP members want to have the final say on Brexit they can’t justify sitting on the fence any longer.

Brexit poses a huge threat to people’s livelihoods, security and public services.

I have relentlessly called on the First Minister to step up and join the cross-party fight against this imminent economic disaster. Hopefully the dismay of her own members will make her see sense.

The best chance of getting a People’s Vote will be if people demand it. That’s why I have booked my tickets to London to go to the next big march on October 20th. The Lib Dems will be meeting at the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park at 12 noon. For me that’s an 800 mile round trip, but there are times when you just have to stand up and be counted. Doing nothing is not an option.

We’ve just seen America turn the clock back to the days when women didn’t have control over their bodies. I really don’t want to see this country go back 50 years and commit a huge act of economic, social and political self harm. We can still stop this. Who is with me?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • I noticed that Plaid Cymru announced the other day that they were backing the “People’s Vote” and wondered if that might have an influence on the SNP. And now this morning Sturgeon appeared to agree that her MPs would vote in favour of a vote if it happened in Westminster. She tried to make out that this was what she’d always said, but I’ve heard her refuse to support one at FM Questions week after week when Willie Rennie pressed her on the subject.

    I think she and the rest of the SNP leadership have realised that refusing to support it is something a lot of their core vote wouldn’t forgive. IMO Christine Jardine and Alex Cole-Hamilton had it right when they said she was trying to hold the rest of the UK to ransom, but she wished to do this while also appearing to be reasonable and progressive and pro-EU, and eventually something had to give. I still expect them to try to use any vote in Westminster on a vote on the deal to stir up division, and it would be interesting to see how much effort they’d put into any new campaign, but it is a step in the right direction. All the more reason to keep up the pressure on them and the rest whose support might waver.

    Right now, there’s us, the Green, Plaid, a lot of Labour and a number of Tories all throwing their support behind the concept. Today’s statement by Sturgeon could encourage a good few more from Labour and the Tories to come out of the woodwork.

  • Barry Lofty 7th Oct '18 - 11:24am

    I really hope that that the People’s Marches have the desired effect and we get another referendum with the true facts of leaving the EU put to the country but the like minded politicians from other parties never seem to have the stomach to put the country before party dogma, you never know they might find a backbone!!

  • The people had their vote and are waiting for the politicians to deliver. There is no need or desire for a second vote except by those who didn’t like the result of the first one. Those who do not accept the result show contempt for democracy.

  • Today’s announcement by Sturgeon basically makes the tweets by Alex and Christine a bit out of date. They were true when written, but this morning Sturgeon committed her 35 MPs to back a Peoples Vote if it came to it, without conditions. We should be grown-up enough to welcome that. OK the Nats won’t actively /campaign/ for a PV but its more important to have their votes. So the number of MPs officially backing a PV now stands at 52, if you don’t count Labour and Tories. I’m not sure exactly how many Tories and Labour MPs are on board, but it’s a significant number, and I think will grow. So it’s now basically all about Labour. If they back a PV then it could happen. They started to wobble a bit at their conference, so we need to put the pressure on them. If you have a Labour MP, write to them and tell them they need to get on board. (I wrote to my SNP MP a few weeks ago and in her response I could see she was uncomfortable with their line. Maybe it had an ounce of impact? Today I’m certainly glad I did it).

  • Barry Lofty 7th Oct '18 - 6:36pm

    I don’t think anyone can deny that the leave campaign told the electorate an awful amount of untruths about the benefits of ” taking back control ‘” and as the winning margin was extremely small, would it not be democratic to ask the voters if they are happy with the terms that our government has achieved, if they manage to agree anything?

  • The Remainers waged Project Fear which was equally untruthful. Are you suggesting that people who voted to leave are stupid or gullible?

    If you are not questioning the result but believe that the method of leaving deserves a vote, then I presume that a Remain option on the ballot paper is not required.

  • The first referendum proved to be highly emotive and divisive. Do you believe that imposing a second referendum with the intention of reversing the first referendum result will restore peace and tranquillity or will it result in social disorder, rioting and mayhem? Do you believe that rejecting the decision of over 17.4 million citizens is a good idea?

    Having rejected the result of the first referendum, what makes you believe that the result of a second referendum will be honoured and will settle anything? Will it resort to the playground “best of three”?

    Having caused immense damage to political trust, integrity and the basis of our democracy, what benefits would a second referendum deliver?

    I don’t think that the Party has thought through its policy.

  • Andrew Melmoth 7th Oct '18 - 7:29pm

    Can you think of any examples of an electorate being so outraged by being given an opportunity to vote that they have rioted?

  • Yes. I’ve just told you about it. Telling people who voted to leave the EU that they got it wrong and must vote again will provoke rioting. It is an insult.

    Most will refuse to vote again. Will Remain claim a victory? Will it be deemed an unsafe result? When democracy is trashed people resort to other measures.

  • This Peoples Vote nonsense is popular with Remainers because they perceive it as the only way of remaining in their beloved EU. The EU managed to reverse referenda with the French and the Irish. In the first case the French thought they won because the EU backed down and killed off their Constitution. The majority of French citizens are not particularly politically aware and didn’t recognise the same legislation in its return as the Lisbon Treaty. The Irish were bullied and bribed until they backed down.

    This is a different situation. UK democracy is on trial. Accept the referendum result or trash our democracy. Dress it up as you wish, but that is the choice. If you want to rejoin the EU then you are free to campaign to do that within our democratic process.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Oct '18 - 9:18pm

    Peter: No, provide an example where giving people an opportunity HAS caused people to riot. Not that a hypothetical vote would do in your speculative opinion, but an actual example in history where this has actually happened.
    And what’s with this “Best of three” rubbish? In a democracy, every vote overrides any previous vote on the same subject. And the corollary of this is that in a democracy, it is absolutely legitimate to demand another vote on a subject on which a vote has already happened. It’s the same way as an election overrides the result of the previous election. The fact that you talk about “best of three” at all shows that you haven’t a clue how democracy works. You at least accept that “If you want to rejoin the EU then you are free to campaign to do that within our democratic process.” But in the same way, we are free to campaign to remain in the EU within our democratic processes.

  • >Do you believe that rejecting the decision of over 17.4 million citizens is a good idea?
    The result was statistically insignificant. Commonsense would have told you to remain in the EU and use your seat at the next round of negotiations. Remember as a member with a seat at the table, the EU has little choice but to accommodate the UK. However, as we have invoked Art.50 we have given the EU the opportunity to sideline the UK…

    Given the arguments used by Leave supporters to get a “Peoples vote” on the UK membership of the EU, I’m a little surprised that you seem to have discarded those principles and are happy for the Westminster crowd to once again decide whatever without consulting the citizens; remember it is highly likely that whatever is agreed will result in the UK being a rule taker and not a rule maker, which doesn’t sit well with the idea of “taking back sovereignty”…

  • @Peter – “Having caused immense damage to political trust, integrity and the basis of our democracy, what benefits would a second referendum deliver?”

    It depends on the result… 🙂

    However, the damage to the UK, was a wholly intentional part of the Leave campaign! The behaviour of UKIP in Europe over many years was deliberate, Farage’s speech to the European Parliament after the referendum should have left you in no doubt about his intent to diminish the UK in the eyes of the world.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Oct '18 - 9:07am

    Alex Mcfie, your comparison with a general election does not work. It is true that a general election result is likely to be reversed at the next general election, and of course this is how democracy works. But a general election result is always implemented. The newly elected MPs are always allowed to take up their seats in Parliament.
    No-one would seriously suggest that there should be another general election before the newly elected MPs were allowed to take up their seats. To suggest this would be highly undemocratic.
    Every general election, and every previous referendum in British history has been implemented. The 1975 referendum was implemented by staying in the Common Market. The 2014 Scottish Independence referendum was implemented by Scotland continuing to be part of the UK. The 2016 EU referendum is the first British referendum in which the public have not voted to keep the status quo. Unlike the previous referendums, which were implemented immediately by just keeping the status quo, this referendum needs to be implemented by changing the status quo and leaving the EU. Once it has been implemented, it could, of course, be reversed at a later date, if the public voted in a future referendum to apply to rejoin the EU.

  • Denis Loretto 8th Oct '18 - 9:34am

    I get fed up with the constant dragging up of “project fear”. The leave campaign told a series of blatant factual lies, typified by the dishonest £350M per week claim on the bus. On the remain side George Osborne overestimated the likely adverse reaction of world financial markets if the referendum result was “leave”. In the event, while there was a significant and lasting drop in the value of sterling, the international consensus was to have some degree of trust in the UK to find a way out of the appalling mess that walking away from the EU would cause. In other words they reckoned some sort of “soft brexit” such as the Norway model would prevail. It remains to be seen if they were right or wrong about this but make no mistake – if Rees Mogg et al get their way the consequences will be dire. Call that project fear if you like.

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland – However, you overlook the question asked in the 2016 referendum; it committed the government to nothing. It was a typical opinion poll style of question, leaving it up to the polling party to determine what action, if any, was necessary.

    So it is wholly possible to ‘implement’ the result by doing nothing! The path we are now on is wholly down to the nutters at Westminster…

    Interestingly, it seems some are waking up to Brexit; the French are beginning to realise that a no deal Brexit may be in their national interest. Given “the deal” needs to be ratified by the EU members, a no deal Brexit on 29-Mar-2019 is looking more likely…

    Now if the EU decides to agree with the UK Brexit nutters on a no deal Brexit, is that the EU punishing the UK?

  • paul holmes 8th Oct '18 - 11:34am

    @Caron. “…the Government continues to reject the democratic option of getting the people to mark its homework…”

    Caron -and others …following the logic of this argument then surely the Coalition should have held a Referendum on policies such as Tuition Fees and the benighted further upheaval of the NHS and the greater opening of it to the profit motive. After all neither Coalition partners Manifesto’s contained a promise to increase Tuition Fees let alone to increase them to the highest level in the Western world (outside of a few elite, private USA Universities). Equally neither campaigned on a commitment to impose yet another ‘top down reorganisation’ on the NHS. Quite the reverse in fact. Under the ‘marking the homework..’ theory of democratic government now being propounded, should every Government decision/piece of legislation be put to a Referendum? And then another one if a vocal group think the answer to the first one was the wrong answer? And then another one and so on?

    Whereas, at least the current Government is carrying out the explicit promise made (in a letter to every voter) to implement the decision of the Referendum, whatever that decision was.

    In the (probably vain) hope that people will address the issue raised rather than hurling false accusations at me about my beliefs, can I note that I voted Remain in 1975 and again in 2016. I’m also willing to bet that I delivered as many, if not more, Remain leaflets in 2016 as the avid Remainers commenting on here.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Oct '18 - 1:35pm

    Catherine Jane Crosland: The error is yours. MPs taking their seats after an election cannot be compared with government taking a course of action after a referendum, especially one that was explicitly defined as advisory. The newly elected MPs taking up their sets in Parliament is simply the technical consequence of an election, according to our laws and constitution. By contrast, as the legislation that enacted the 2016 explicitly defined it as “advisory”, there is literally nothing to “implement”. Any promises implied by the referendum result carry no more weight than party manifesto pledges. To say that there cannot be another referendum until the 2016 result is “implemented” by the UK leaving the EU is like saying there cannot be another election until the party in power has been able to implement all its manifesto promises, and that while this happens no-one should be allowed to challenge or campaign against them.

    We could have had a mandatory referendum on the subject. The AV referendum was one such. Had the Yes campaign won, then the proposed change in electoral system would have been put into force by way of a statutory instrument. That is what the AV referendum legislation explicitly stated. Therefore, to have had a mandatory a referendum on EU membership, the Leave side, as the ones wanting to change the status quo, should have had to have a concrete plan for leaving that could just be kick-started by applying a statutory instrument, and the referendum legislation should have explicitly stated that that was what would happen.

    What we have instead is a vote for “Leave” with no plan put in place for how this would be achieved, and with no requirement in the legislation enacting the vote to do anything about it either. But those who oppose the result are supposed, through a gentlemen’s agreement, stand back and not challenge the 2-year-long process of leaving, even while opinion polls suggest that it is no longer the wish of the majority. While gentlemen’s agreements seem to be the British way of doing things (with our unwritten constitution), they only work when all players behave in a gentlemanly fashion. And it is manifestly clear that many the Leave side have not been doing so.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Oct '18 - 3:00pm

    paul holmes: The government may be carrying out that promise, but why on earth should those of us not in government be bound by it? And besides, a promise is only as good as the thing being promised. The Thatcher government carried out its 1987 manifesto promise to implement a Poll Tax, and was widely derided for it. It’s quite likely that its eventual reneging on that promise saved the Tories from defeat in 1992.

  • David Bradley 8th Oct '18 - 4:45pm

    The one question that nobody is asking is this one
    If we had a People’s Vote or 2nd Referendum (lets not kid each other they are the same thing no matter what it is called ) if we then stay in the E.U would we be allowed to keep all our opt outs and the rebate that we have now personally i don’t think so .
    One thing i would like to say is i voted to leave why, because i thought and still do think that it is the best interest of the U.K while i realise that stating this on libdem voice will invite negative comments and even some abuse that’s fine i’m a “big boy ” as they say and i can take it but i woulds ask you to remember this as when you are reduced to shouting and abuse in any discussion it means you have already lost the argument

  • Like a significant number of people I find it very hard to accept the Referendum result because of the campaign and reasons people have given me for voting Leave, one such is ” we did it to give Cameron a kicking!”.
    Peter I feel a second Referendum is very desirable, the result will I anticipate be decisive one way or another. If it is Leave even I will accept the result and get on with it.
    It does look as if there will be another vote. The Government is allegedly courting 25 or so Labour MPs. Their problem is that these MPs are probably in the Referendum supporting group and could will demand a Referendum for their backing on any deal that would follow a Leave vote.
    Another referendum will clear the air, which at the present time is polluted by splits and mistrust.
    In the meantime we need to remember we only have 12 MPs and really are almost impotent as a major parliamentary electorate force.
    See the Independent petition has now passed 850,000 signatures. Good luck to the march, hope it does not rain.

  • Mike Falchikov 8th Oct '18 - 6:05pm

    Let’s go back to the start of this unhappy process. David Cameron introduced the referendum, almost frivolously, in an attempt to deal with his backbench rebels. He
    announced it as an “advisory referendum” i.e. suggesting that there was no obligation to accept a result and typically for a Tory obsessed with first past the post as a system that was in his view “the envy of the world”, made no attempt to suggest any threshold, either in terms of turnout or margin of victory. Most countries who use referendums stipulate a necessary turnout and a winning margin of at least 10%. The idea that one vote out of 30 million or so could determine a result is preposterous. Any further
    referenda we have on this, or any other matter, should stipulate a proper margin and
    any such referendum where expenditure rules are broken by more than e.g.1k should
    be invalidated.

  • Andrew Tampion 8th Oct '18 - 7:52pm

    Mike Falchikov. Are you suggesting that in order to overturn the result of the 2016 referendum that Remain needs a winning margin of at least 10% over Leave?

  • Andrew Tampion 8th Oct '18 - 8:16pm

    Personally I wouldn’t count on the SNP to further a 2nd Referendum AKA People’s Vote. The SNP’s object is an independent Scotland, whether the rump of the UK stays in or leaves Europe is secondary in significance. From that point of view a “People’s Vote” has no upside. If the vote confirms the decision to leave then the campaign for Scottish independence is no further forward. But if the UK votes to stay in then the SNP’s campaign for a 2nd independence referendum because Scotland is being taken out of the EU against it will is a busted flush. The cause of Scottish independence is put back a generation. Even if the decision to leave is confirmed what if the proportion of Scots voting to remain falls or even that Scots also vote to leave (unlikely I know)? Once again the case for a 2nd independence referendum is weaken or fatally undermined. Of course the SNP will probably claim to support a “People’s Vote” but if I was them I would do everything in my power to stop it actually happening.

  • paul holmes 8th Oct '18 - 9:31pm

    Alex -no reason whatsoever.

    The elected Government on the other hand does feel bound by/is carrying out the promise they made. Shock!

    I wasn’t questioning whether you -I -or other Remain voters should cease to point out the folly of Brexit. I was asking for clarification on the constitutional/democratic logic behind the demand that the Government should ‘let the people mark their homework’ -other than at the next General Election which is not due until 2022. No such constitutional requirement or convention is in any of the textbooks I used to teach from. Neither did I ever it hear it elaborated on whilst I was in Parliament. I was also asking if the proponents of this new doctrine thought it should apply to all Government decisions -Tuition Fees, Academies and Free Schools, 2012 Health Act and so on -or just to Brexit. If not why not? A similar question would be about the intellectual rigour or democratic and constitutional consistency in being opposed to a second Scottish Referendum but in favour of a second Brexit Referendum.

    Theakes. At every election some people vote to give X a good kicking or to register a protest against Y. So are all elections therefore invalid?

    Mike Falchikov. The Government sent a pamphlet to every voter outlining the issue being voted on (and steering towards Remain most people would say). With it they promised that the result of the Referendum, whatever it was, would be implemented.

  • OnceALibDem 8th Oct '18 - 9:38pm

    “There is a chance that a parliamentary alliance of moderate Labour and Tory MPs, us, Caroline Lucas and others could force through a People’s Vote.”

    There really isn’t unless you forget how to count. Without backing from the Labour leadership the maths is stone dead in the water

    Say that you need 321 to get a vote through (and you would need to do that on multiple occasions). You have 14 Lib Dems, 35 SNP and 4 Green plus plaid. Suppose that 170 Labour MPs rebel – more than did over the Iraq war with a much bigger parliamentary party – that gets you to 223 and would need nearly 100 Tories to rebel.

    And you’d need to do that on several commons votes at different stages – before you even get to the Lords. Assuming you even get a bill out of the starting gate which I don’t see how it happens without Government support.

    And it would be unprecedented in anything like modern times but parliament to pass an act which didn’t have at least tacit government support. I don’t think it has ever happened – the executive control parliamentary business too much. And suppose it does pass some hurdles and the Tories declare it a vote of confidence issue

    Possibly if the Labour leadership gave full throated backing – even then there will be 15 or so rump Labour MPs who won’t vote for a second referendum so the maths is still a bit ropey. AFAICS Labour Brexiters outnumber the current Tories who are supporting a second referendum.

  • Oncealibdem – Two years ago there were 9 MPs committed to a Peoples Vote. Us and Caroline Lucas. Today I reckon there are about 100. But the momentum is strong, there are organisations actively campaigning for it. Money being donated, celebrities endorsing it, newspapers backing it, TV and radio talking about it, petitions, marches, more MPs getting on board every day. I agree that Labour needs to back it, but I believe there is a chance that will happen. That’s why I said earlier, the focus now must be on pressuring them. When it comes to the crunch, will they really vote against the clear wish of their members and supporters? Maybe they will, but if they do they will alienate so much of their natural base. The chance is there. So let’s at least try.

  • Bill le Breton 9th Oct '18 - 7:02am

    Paul Holmes is the only one writing sense here – which is often the case.

    The rest of you of behaving like members of the ‘Sealed Knot Society’ and Caron is recommending that you all turn up for another re-enactment of the whatever it is the Sealed Knot people dress up in in out of date costumes to re-enact.

    I wish I had thought of that metaphor but it was in fact Jack of Kent here http://jackofkent.com/2018/10/why-remainers-should-allow-the-brexit-mandate-to-be-discharged/

    There is a 1% chance the the UK will not leave the EU on 29th March next. Shouldn’t we be engaged in the formation of what does follow on the 30th March? And put aside our foolish costumes?

    Jack of Kent also suggests that there is a strong chance that what follows – the so called ‘Transition Period’ may actually last longer that our present 40 odd year membership of the Common Market.

    So, on the 20th October will you be dressing up and playing re-enactment games or will you be doing something positive to get the best possible ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ for our countries fit to last for the next half century?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 9th Oct '18 - 7:54am

    Alex Macfie : A general election or a referendum is implemented by implementing the specific choice that was on the ballot paper.
    In a general election, the specific choice that the public is presented with is a choice of candidates to be their local MP. Therefore it is correct to say that a general election is implemented by the new MPs taking up their seats.
    Of course it is true that people are likely to be voting on the basis of the policies which are in their chosen party’s manifesto. The public do, of course, have the right to expect that the party that forms a government will keep its manifesto promises. But the manifesto promises are not on the ballot paper. So a general election result is not, as you suggest, implemented by the new government implementing its manifesto. It *is* implemented by the new MPs taking up their seats. So I was correct in stating in my previous comments that a general election result is always implemented.
    A referendum result is also implemented by carrying out the specific choice which is on the ballot paper. In the 2016 referendum, the choice was “Should the UK remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union?”. The majority voted to “leave the European Union”. So the result will only have been implemented when the UK has left the European Union.
    So suggesting that there should be another referendum before the UK can leave the EU *is* equivalent to suggesting that there should be a second general election before newly elected MPs are allowed to take up their seats.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 8:48am

    Catherine Jane Crosland: You are wrong; as the 2016 referendum was advisory, there was *nothing* that legally needed to be implemented following it. And surely you can see the difference between the technical, defined process of old MPs being replaced by new ones, and a vague, undefined political process that takes two years or more to fully implement, during which (according to your thinking) full normal democratic scrutiny needs to be suspended with respect to the implementation (because it can’t be challenged).
    A binding referendum simply cannot work if the proposition is not worked out and is therefore being defined as we go along. If we want a proper Swiss-style direct democracy, where referendums were binding and decisions made this way have to be implemented, then this is no way of running it. As I wrote above, the plan to be implemented if the proposition wins the referendum has to be defined, with a full roadmap to implementation, BEFORE the referendum, so that it can be kicked into motion straight afterwards, without needing any reference to Parliament.

    The binding non-binding referendum situation that we have here, where we are making up rules as we go along, is simply unacceptable in a mature democracy

  • I don’t think the Government is likely to be swayed by a march, and am not sure it should be. After all, an equal number could possible be summoned for a countermarch! Government by marches would be even worse than government by referendum. We should keep our powder dry until the PM has presented a possible deal. Then, in accoradance with our parliamentary democracy, we shoud consider whether to pressurise MPs into a course of action, given the choice between acceptance or annulment of Article 50. A second referendum should really be a last resort.

  • Then, in accoradance with our parliamentary democracy, we shoud consider whether to pressurise MPs into a course of action, given the choice between acceptance or annulment of Article 50.

    Actually, I think it is the LibDem members of the House of Lords who have the power to make things happen. Yes, some may not like the way they were appointed, but that is an irrelevance when there is a battle to be won…

  • Barry Lofty 9th Oct '18 - 10:48am

    Apart from all the obvious reasons for supporting a People’s Vote on the terms of any EU deal, I have a very personal reason for wanting a new vote, I dislike and distrust the intentions of the main proponents of the Brexit campaign and wonder when they say they want to ” bring back control ” whether they want to bring back control for their benefit or the British people??

  • paul holmes 9th Oct '18 - 11:02am

    Roland – the entirely unelected, undemocratic and unaccountable Lords will not over turn something that the democratically elected Government is implementing in accord with its Manifesto and/or in this case in accord with the result of a democratic Referendum decision.

    Two Parliamentary Acts place strict limits on the Lords powers to delay and revise. The first was introduced by the Liberal Government after the titanic struggle over the ‘People’s Budget’ and the second by the landslide Labour Govt after WW2. But the unelected Lords with no democratic legitimacy tread carefully and go beyond this. I recall for example, as an MP, working with colleagues in the Lords who said ‘well if you move amendments and vote against such and such in Standing Committee Stage then we can make more fuss when it comes to the Lords but if the elected Commons make no or little objection to something we can do less.’

    This is exactly as it should be and I am astonished to hear/read Liberal Democrats saying anything else. Smug Tories with inherited privilege used to behave this way in the Lords -hence the two Acts of Parliament strictly limiting what the unelected Lords can do. Militant Labour, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, used to call for extra Parliamentary action (force as with the flying pickets et al) to over turn democratically elected Governments, which is one of various reasons I joined the SDP and not Labour in 1983. Some of the views propounded by some Remainers as to how to halt a democratic decision (and let me remind you I voted Remain in 1975 and in 2016), astonish me.

    Protest and argue all you like but please don’t call for undemocratic action by unelected people simply because you (and I) don’t like a particular democratically taken decision.

  • Sometimes I am incredulous at the pedantics played by some. As I see it the primary purpose of the march is publicity, and it will surely get that.

  • In the 1997 GE, the Lib Dem Candidate in Winchester was elected by 2 votes. The Con Candidate (ex-MP) petitioned for a re-run. This was agreed and the Lib Dem MP won by a huge majority. The conventional wisdom at the time was that the electorate “punished” a sore loser. One of the reasons given by the Lib Dems and other Remain campaigners for a re-run (which is what a “People’s Vote” is, in practice) is that the 2016 Referendum result was close, so we should ask people to vote again. Should there be some concern that the same attitude might be taken by the country-wide electorate as was taken by the voters of Winchester 20 years ago? (Remain voter who, as a Democrat, accepts the result, albeit with disappointment)

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 1:30pm

    The Winchester re-run happened because the losing candidate successfully challenged the result on a technicality (some 600 ballot papers not having the official polling station mark). The frivolous and opportunistic nature of the challenge meant the “sore loser” tag stuck. Voters don’t like unnecessary elections, and they tend to punish whosoever causes them.
    But not all challenges end this way. We successfully challenged the Littleborough & Saddleworth result in 2010 because the winning Labour candidate made false defamatory statements about our candidate. While we did not win the re-run (we were in government with the Tories when it was held, reducing our prospects in a traditionally Labour area) our vote held up. And we did the country a good turn by kicking the odious Phil Woolas out of politics. Similarly, the successful challenge to Lutfur Rahman’s Mayoral election victory in Tower Hamlets did not result in Labour being seen as sore losers: the challenge was understood to be legitimate. The same is true of the Leyton Ward council by-election of 2007, where we won back a seat we’d lost after our Labour opponent had slandered our long-serving Councillor candidate.

    I don’t think the “sore loser” argument applies in the People’s vote, because the circumstances have changed since the 2016 referendum. We know a lot more about what Brexit will be like now than we did then, and there is a prima facie case of dishonesty for the Leave campaign to answer. As a democrat, I also accept the result of the last referendum, but in the same way that I accept the last election result, which means it can and should be challenged. That’s what democracy means — continuous challenge.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 3:11pm

    Of course I meant Oldham East & Saddleworth, rather than Littleborough & Saddleworth, the predecessor seat for which I helped in the by-election in the mid 1990s.

  • Alex Macfie 9th Oct '18 - 6:35pm

    paul holmes: I don’t care for the House of Lords in its present form, and want it replaced with a democratically elected revising Chamber. So I don’t see why the Lib Dems should keep it on life-support by adhering to old gentlemen’s agreements designed to maintain the reputation of the unelected House (and thereby protect it from reform). I wrote in an earlier post here that gentlemen’s agreements only work if all players behave like gentlemen.
    I understand that after the 2015 election, the Lib Dems in the Lords said they would no longer consider themselves bound by the Salisbury Convention because of the winning party’s small share of the popular vote. And after the 2017 election the Tories don’t even have a majority in the Commons, further weakening the case for them having an easy ride in the Lords. I for one would be very happy for the government to be repeatedly defeated in the Lords in order to bring it into disrepute and therefore bring about real reform. Reform which we have always proposed, and the two big parties have always scuppered. Unfortunately, too many Lords have a vested interest in its continued existence in its present form, so they will continue to adhere to the antiquated gentlemen’s agreements that protect its existence. Lib Demsw should not be part of this process.

  • innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 7:24pm

    “I don’t care for the House of Lords in its present form”
    Absolutely agree with this. The HoL is widely despised as a dumping ground of backside lickers, failed, would-be politicians, celebrities and those who simply purchased the honour.
    Our country will never succeed in the 21st century with this geriatric millstone around our necks.

  • paul holmes 9th Oct '18 - 7:37pm

    But the reality Alex, is that the Lords are not going to defeat the elected Government by fundamentally rejecting it’s policies. It is just not going to happen.

    You also make the mistake, as with the very unlikely event of a Second Referendum, of assuming that the 12 LD MP’s would have any significant say -or any say at all -in the wording and terms of such a Referendum. Or of a ‘reform’ of the Second Chamber introduced by a Government furious at having it’s democratic right to govern blocked by the Lords.

    I have been quite astonished at the many thousands of words written on LD Voice over the last 2 years, going into minute detail about what the wording of another Referendum will/should be. If there was one (extremely unlikely) it would be a Cons PM or Jeremy Corbyn writing it, not us and I very much doubt the question put would be to our liking.

    I am completely opposed to the Lords and our voting system and have voted for Reform at any given chance in my 35 years political campaigning. But until that day comes we have to work with reality not wishful thinking.

  • @paul holmes – So I take it that you are prepared to ape Jeremy Corbyn and simply roll over, just because you don’t like the current HoL.

    Yes, I’m sure our MPs will have a role to play, but I suspect it is as you kindly point out, to set the shot up so that the HoL can field it.

    I agree with Alex; by doing their job, the LibDems in the HoL may well hasten it’s reform – a LibDem policy objective.

    @innocent Bystander – I think you are being a little unkind, it is the current occupants of the House of Commons that seem to be doing their utmost to hobble this country for the 21st and potentially the 22nd century. 🙂

  • innocent Bystander 9th Oct '18 - 7:59pm

    “occupants of the House of Commons”

    Who we can decline to vote for and send them off sorrowing. Unlike….
    I don’t have to spell it out.

  • paul holmes 9th Oct '18 - 11:45pm

    Roland -absolute nonsense. Can you point out anywhere where I have said that? Please address what I say not straw men.

  • >Who we can decline to vote for and send them off sorrowing.

    Or who we can vote back into office…

    One part of me things Jeremy Corbyn is playing a high stakes game, he is wanting the Conservatives to be under no illusion that they stand a good chance of being re-elected (again) and so have to clear up their mess rather than stand on the sidelines heckling Labour…

  • We often hear it said “After all, an equal number could possible be summoned for a countermarch! ” or if we don’t get our way we will riot. I well remember Farage stating he would organise a 100,000 man march on the Judges how did that end up

    Brexit legal challenge: Only a few of Nigel Farage’s ‘100,000-strong people’s army’ march on Supreme Court


    It is well worth clicking on the link to see how few turned up. When Remainers marched through Sunderland where was the massed counter demonstration?

    A couple of hundred people took part in the march and chanted things like ‘Theresa May, give us a final say’.

    They were faced with opposition from a smaller group of pro-Leave supporters who made their voices heard.


    In Sunderland of all places they couldn’t even rouse themselves to out number and out shout a few hundred. The Leave camp may rattle a lot of keyboards and haunt Question Time, but when it comes to action they send in a sick note.

  • Name a march – just one – that changed a policy or decision.

  • Malcolm Todd 11th Oct '18 - 11:56am

    David 11th Oct ’18 – 11:04am
    “Name a march – just one – that changed a policy or decision.”
    That’s of course an unreasonably high bar: no march could be said to have changed a policy on its own – but then no march takes place in a vacuum. They are always part of a wider campaign.
    Can I think of one that was a big part of bringing about change? Well, yes: do you remember the Poll Tax?

  • @ Frankie.

    Why should the people march in Sunderland, they voted out, they won, we are leaving, why on earth would they care about a couple of hundred sad people wandering around the streets of their city to no purpose.

    I would imagine many of the people in Sunderland were sat in the The Cooper Rose, the William Jameson, and the the Lambton Worm enjoying a pint of Tim Martin’s finest, whilst laughing at the fools outside the window wasting their precious time off, instead of living their lives with a smile on their face, or perhaps they can’t afford a pint in ‘spoons.

  • @Alex Macfie

    As a brief factcheck it was 56 votes that didn’t have the official mark. There was also a spoiler candidate at the 97 General Election that stood as a “Liberal Democrat – Top choice for Parliament” (it was before the days on rules on party names) who got 640 votes – it was widely thought that he took more than 56 votes from people who voted for him by mistake rather than for the Lib Dems – and a key reason why the Tory Gerry Malone was thought locally to be a sore loser.

    See – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_by-election%2C_1997

    Interesting to note that when the result has been close before people turnout! Perhaps not surprisingly! Winchester has had historically high turnouts but it was 69% at the by-election which most seats would be pleased about for a General Election.

  • Jack Graham 11th Oct '18 - 2:50pm

    @ Paul Walter

    “Why should the people march in Sunderland…?”


    I trump your pie in the sky if’s, but’s and maybe’s, with what actually happens as a result of these perpetual forbodings of doom.


    Same CEO, same rhetoric, same cobblers.

  • Jack Graham 11th Oct '18 - 3:00pm

    @ Paul Walter “Why should the people march in Sunderland…?”


    I”ll trump your if’s, but’s and maybe’s with what actually happens.


    Same CEO, same rhetoric, same cobblers.You can only cry wolf so many times, and then you become a laughing stock.

  • Jack Graham 12th Oct '18 - 8:56am

    @ David Raw

    “Why, Jacky man, tha divn’t knaw what thoo’s talking ‘boot. Tha canna kid all’t Mackems wi’ a fourteen yar oold bit a paper”.

    So your grandfather talked with a strangulated version of Geordie, despite spending his working life until the pit closed in 1950 in the middle of Pitmatic dialect country. I doubt he used the term Mackem as it didn’t come into common usage until the 1970’s or even the 1970’s, but full marks for attempting a Lord Hailsham.

    ” Tha canna kid all’t Mackems wi’ a fourteen yar oold bit a paper”

    But the LibDems seem to think they can kid the population that everything they say is cast in stone, the oracle, despite their repeated and persistent errors of judgement on economic issues that they supported without question.. Serious people not obsessed with the EEC/EU made it abundantly clear that joining the ERM would have tremendous costs to this country and individual citizens, yet the LibDems ignored them all, and we all paid the price.

    ERM, Euro, Tuition Fees, you don’t even get it right as often as a stopped clock, yet you seriously expect people to listen to you this time.

    Anyway got to go, my flat cap is waiting, and I’ve got a whippet to take out for a walk

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