BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation. I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any terms which might be ambiguous, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me. Lastly, you'll find typos here, although I do my best to correct them. There are reasons for this, which you'll discover as you read.

Thursday, 14 June 2018


I've thought these thoughts for a while, but never really thought how to express them. Let's try:

I like referendums. I think the best scenario is where we all do our own thing, but on an issue which affects us all, referendums are a good idea. I still see a role for parliament, to fill in the details, but I think that the pulic are sophisticated enough to indicate a direction of travel. Parliament has a responsibility, I think, to reflect public opinion, not so much to drive it.

In that same vein, people talk about referendums not being binding, but I think that's nonsense. I can accept that there may be timing issues - I think Brexit would have been better put off until the end of a budget cycle - but really, parliament should be bound to follow the public's direction. Remember that we delegate power to them, not the other way around.

So just in the sense that a referendum is the closest that we get to the public expressing its opinion on an issue, I'd actually go for more referendums, not fewer. I think we do have to think long and hard about what questions we ask - for example Cameron's simple in/out question has had people arguing ever since. If he'd have bothered to ask me what I think about immigration, sovreignty, the Customs Union, wealth etc. I'd have been happy to tell him, and saved all the arguments now. The trouble is, it's not enough just to know people's conclusion (in or out), we also need to know their motivation for saying what they say. Gordon Brown (ex-UK Prime Minister, I never really rated him in office but I think he was right here) was on tv only last weekend, saying that people's real issues were things like jobs, personal prosperity etc, things which underlay the headline EU issue.

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