What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU?


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3:31 pm - October 24th 2011

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contribution by Andy May

Rather unsurprisingly, the ‘in or out’ of the EU debate has already descended into a vitriolic hate fest stoked by the worst elements of our tabloid press.

The EU can be its own worst enemy. Even before the Eurozone crisis there were problems to address; a democratic deficit, common agricultural policy and its centralising bureaucracy.

It would be nice to think that armed with the facts voters could have their say via a referendum, but let’s face it – we don’t have a hope in hell in achieving that.

The last referendum on the Alternative Vote degenerated into a mud slanging match which most of the public didn’t engage with until extremely late in the day. Editors and journalists deliberately misled the public, whilst the broadcasters preferred to avoid a seemingly dull issue and limit the amount of coverage.

Some newspapers were able to get away with printing smears against the Yes campaign knowing that a toothless Press Complaints Commission would be unable to act in time to redress the damage done.

Political advertising also hit an all-time low when No2AV implied that losing pre-natal babies was the true cost of electoral reform. The outrage was all for nothing though since the Advertising Standards Agency had already thrown in the towel and withdrawn from regulation of political advertising back in 1999. We haven’t had any system of regulation since.

As an ideal, a referendum should directly support popular participation and increases the legitimacy of the outcome.

I don’t see how we can achieve this when politicians set the question behind closed doors, press barons determine the direction of debate and the two sides can put pretty much anything they like on their advertising hoardings.

Without an overhaul of the way political discourse is regulated and facilitated a referendum cannot really be said to enrich democracy or legitimise a policy outcome.

The democratic deficit inherent in the European Union which has changed beyond recognition since we joined 38 years ago does need to be addressed, but it will be disastrous if another referendum was held on the same terms as the last one.


Andy May previously worked for Take Back Parliament and Yes to Fairer Votes and is currently a member of the Electoral Reform Society Council. All opinions expressed in this article are his own.

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Reader comments


Still sulking eh , this is hardly above the level of ” Everyone shut up and listen to me”
If you think it isn’t screamingly obvious why you are against an EU referendum do think again and political debate in the UK is like a Don’s balloon debate compared to the the idiotic crap thrown around in Australia where the paradisal AV conditions actually exist

I’m on the fence about the referendum.

I tend to agree there is a democratic deficit in the EU (and I think power is too far removed from the people), we still have the CAP, the Eurozone is not an ‘optimal currency area’, there is no fiscal union, but people expect the Eurozone to ‘work’ (and people complain today about other countries forcing particular decisions on, say, Greece), I think it facilitates policy laundering, there are countries that don’t follow the rules and so on.

We do not live in a plebiscitary but a representative democracy. But the main parties do not offer what a significant proportion seem to want (at the very least a rethink on the terms of our involvement) – the suggestion that there is a mandate for continued membership is superficial and dare I say false. Also, there is precedent for a referendum in this context.

But what chance is there of a proper public debate on the EU? If LC is any indication, where it seems there has been more ad hominem abuse than substantive debate (a few stalwarts have thankfully persevered), I would say there is little.

Are the public competent to decide? Are our representatives competent to decide? Is competence relevant?

Difficult.

Actually, the Yes2AV campaign was utterly terrible. I was pro-AV and voted for AV but that patronising, sanctimonous campaign made me practically a pariah in my own family during that election.

Sorry – I want to add to my @3 that I don’t think the question, whether it’s asked of our representatives or the public, should be limited to “in or out”.

5. theophrastus

So, Andy, we mustn’t have any more referenda because they might not produce the answers that you want! And don’t most of your arguments against referenda also apply to general elections – viz that “press barons determine the direction of debate and the two sides can put pretty much anything they like on their advertising hoardings” – so why not just abandon this democracy lark altogether?

Furthermore, do you really think that the AV referendum was lost simply because of the allegations against the ERS? AV is a deeply flawed system, and the Yes campaign were incompetent. That is why AV was so roundly defeated.

As for the UK’s EU membership, I’d favour a referendum on withdrawal, new terms or the status quo. But not now. We simply don’t know what the form of the EU will be after the current crises are over.

With its centralising momentum, its democratic deficit verging on tyranny, its always-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen currency, its expensive and anti-Third World CAP and its obsessive desire to regulate, the EU has nothing to commend it – other than we are in it, and getting out could be painful and expensive.

The reason the tory high command don’t want a referendum is because they take their orders from the global elites. And right now the elites are worried that if countries start pulling out of the Eu barriers may start going up

The right has only ever wanted a neo free trade area, and they have deluded themselves that all other countries want the sme. The reason we have stayed in Europe over the last 25 years despite so much euro hostility is because big business wants us there. Sure t grumble about some social issues,but they are not convinced that if we pull out they will not find trading becoming more difficult.

Napoleon once said we are a nation of shopkeepers, and certain glorified shopkeepers are opposed to the Eu,but then they don’t rely on selling their goods abroad. The tories have Nerver given the people a say on the Eu. They took us in without a referendum, they signed various treaties and have Never seen fit to give the people a vote. Only the labour party have let the people vote on this issue. The tories once in power never answer to the people,only big business.

Of course, we might have more chance of a debate if the pro-EU side actually made an effort to tell people of the advantages which the EU brings, as opposed to just assuming that it’s all self-evident and anybody who thinks otherwise is stupid and/or xenophobic…

@ XXX

The problem is how are the pro-EU groups supposed to get their point out when the media is largely so anti-EU that they are already making up stories (or at least twisting the facts) to support their views. Take the Express story “EU wants to merge UK with France” as an example. With the PCC unable (or unwilling) to prevent these works of fiction and the papers unwilling to publish letters from the EU commissioner which debunk the story the misinformation is free to spread.

Which media bodies in this country are pro-EU? Who can counter the lies from papers like the Mail and the Express?

The people who lied about the whole basis for this – they didn’t get 100,000 signatures – even now it’s only 36,900 – aren’t going to start getting truthful now. If there’s a referendum it’s going to be a very very dirty campaign.

“The tories have Nerver given the people a say on the Eu. They took us in without a referendum, they signed various treaties and have Never seen fit to give the people a vote. Only the labour party have let the people vote on this issue.”

When did Labour allow us a vote on it? Neither party has, despite each at various times promising a referendum.

11. Roger Mexico

Chris (#9)

I pointed out in an earlier thread that A minute’s googling showed that the debate is actually being called at the request of a backbencher, David Nuttall (Con, Bury N):

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/backbench-business-committee/news/eu-referendum-and-nhs-care-of-older-people/

and the EU referendum petition on the website has only got about about 36,000 signatures:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/356

But I suspect it’s less a matter of outright lying that being much easier to believe what suits the emotional narrative of a people’s revolt against the evil empire rather than the reality of the backbench committee doing its job of representing backbenchers.

In Westminster people go around repeating what they hear rather than finding thing out for themselves – this applies to politicians and media alike. They’re not liars so much as useless at the jobs they’re supposed to be doing.

The lack of support for the petition just shows that, in reality, people don’t really care that much about withdrawing from the EU. Politicians and the Press do because they delude themselves that the ‘powers’ that the evil EU has seized will somehow end up in their hands. The ordinary punters vaguely feel that Westminster is nearer than Brussels, but that both have neither the will or the power to do anything to make the lives of the rest of us better

12. Roger Mexico

Lamia

When did Labour allow us a vote on it?

1975

Not recent, but you did ask.

13. Leon Wolfson

@11 – Absolutely! It’s entirely typical of the lies which will be peddled during any “debate” held. The facts won’t figure anywhere in it, just hysterical nonsense, and that’s before secret backers get behind it, like they did No to AV.

@5 – Given it’s significantly more democratic than the Westminster government, I like your slam against the ConDem’s there!

The numbers for the e-petition are as stated above, but there was a paper petition with over 100,000 signatures that was also submitted (one of the MPs said so in the House in response to the query).

At #3and #5 yes the points do also relate to elections – we should reform the regulators for those too.

And don’t worry you won’t find me defending the Yes campaign… There were plenty of reasons as to why AV failed beyond those highlighted here.

I suspect that what really motivates many of the band of Tory Eurosceptics is the prospect of a fully-fledged Anglo-Saxon economy unhampered by the restrictions of the European social model fostered by the EU. Those flat-lining median earnings in America since the 1970s, with American tax rates for the rich, look very appealing.

Try the analysis and diagnosis of Andre Sapir: Globalisation and the Reform of the European Social Model
http://www.ulb.ac.be/cours/delaet/econ076/docs/sapir.pdf

“This suggests that both Nordic and Anglo-Saxon models are sustainable, while continental and Mediterranean models are not and must be reformed in the direction of greater efficiency by reducing disincentives to work and to grow.”

The successful, affluent economies of Denmark and Sweden have relatively high tax burdens by OECD standards along with extensive welfare systems.

17. Leon Wolfson

“sustainable”. Oh look, economic collapse.

The Canadian and Australian models, perhaps, but not the US/UK ones!

For some, those tax rates for the rich in America must look very appealing – and a persuasive reason for Britain to leave the EU to run the Anglo-Saxon model without the unwelcome restrictions of the European social model. As Warren Buffett, reputedly the third richest man in the world, observed:

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 per cent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 per cent to 41 per cent and averaged 36 per cent.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=1

Chris @ 8:

“Which media bodies in this country are pro-EU?”

The BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the Financial Times. Admittedly those last three aren’t mass-market papers, but the BBC at least is fairly popular and widely-watched.

Leon @ 13:

“and that’s before secret backers get behind it,”

You make that assertion a lot, but I’ve never seen the slighted shred of evidence. Which secret backers in particular were you thinking of?

21. Leon Wolfson

@20 – Tell me, XXX, who were the backers behind the No to AV campaign?

Leon @ 21:

Shifting the burden of proof there. It’s up to you to prove your claim that there will be sinister secret backers for an out-of-the-EU vote, not up to me to disprove it.

23. Roger Mexico

I think the main OP is overly-pessimistic, in part due to misunderstanding about the reasons for the failure of the AV referendum.

Very little attention has been paid to a poll done by YouGov on the actual evening of the referendum, mainly of those who had voted (a decent sample size of around 2,400) and presumably had had little time to forget how or why:

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/electionday_av_0.pdf

Firstly about half the sample made their minds up in the last two of three weeks before 5th May, so people seem not to go into referendums with made-up minds and the campaign is important. But over a quarter voted by post, so you can’t leave things too late. But it’s when you look at the reasons given for voting No that it becomes interesting.

Not many were deeply enamoured of First Past the Post but the most popular reasons for keeping things as they are were: “It keeps elections simple: the candidate with the most votes wins” and “It is a tried-and-tested system that has served Britain well”. The dubious reasons promoted by the No Campaign didn’t figure as strongly. (The whole survey is worth looking at).

In other words people voted for small ‘c’ conservative reasons. Don’t change things unless you have a good reason to do so. But in the case of the EU the ‘conservative’ position is staying in.

Incidentally there’s also a related piece on the AV campaign from Peter Kellner which shows just what little impact the AV campaign (for or against) actually made (can’t find the related tables at the moment):

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/pk_commentary_av_050511.pdf

When a third of the electorate are unaware of what side of the debate the PM is on, it’s possible that even overwhelming Press support may not have the impact that the Press would hope it would.

It’s also worth pointing out that, as with any self-selected panel, members of the YouGov panel are probably more politically aware than average (a much higher percentage voted in May for example), so the ‘non-political’ nature of their responses probably underestimates that of the population as a whole.

On one occasion at the time of the 1975 referendum campaign, I was invited to a local debate broadcast over the local radio from a hotel in the city where I lived then. Drinking at the hotel bar afterwards, I somehow became engaged in a congenial conversation with a (successful) local entrepreneur and business man.

This was a time of pervasive pessimism about the state of Britain’s economy. I vividly recall a snatch of the conversation. Mindful of Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, I said that there must be something we are good at producing. Yes, he replied: War. His business card showed that he had been awarded the Military Medal.

He was right, of course. Britain is good at wars. And we like wars. By accounts, there were celebrations on London streets at the outbreaks of the Crimean War, the Boer wars and WW1. Judging by Tony Blair’s addiction to wars and then Cameron involving Britain in Libya’s civil war, this seems to be a national habit we find difficult to break.

@ 23 Bob B,

sadly true.

Oh yes we need different rules for referenda. Next time lets not have the yes campaign run by the no campaign.

Nick: Well, if the Yes2AV campaign was ineffective, then that is just another point in favour of the point made by this article – it’s hard to get information across to people, and the organisations that do so may well do so ineptly – whether due to their own incompetence, or being drowned out by the lies.

Not sure why it made you a “pariah” in your family. If they voted Yes, they’re no different to you. If they voted No, why do they care about the ineffectiveness of the campaign? Or if you mean it somehow offended them, I fail to see how they’re in a position to criticise, what with the appalling low standards of the No campaign (patronising? It was the No campaign that argued that people were too stupid to understand AV). If they had that view of you, then that just adds to the point that the system rewards the people which stoop lowest – if you lie loudest, and people believe the lies, that’s all that matter.

Still, I hope all the No voters are against an EU referendum, knowing how expensive it would be…

On the evidence of this thread, the prospects for a reasoned, informed debate on Britain’s continued membership of the EU look fairly minimal.

That’s rather depressing with half Britain’s exports going to other EU countries and with the EU continuing to make decisions on regulations and standards that will affect trade with the EU regardless of whether Britain’s representative are there at the negotiating table.

29. Leon Wolfson

@33 – It’s called accuracy. Also, go hug your soul-brothers in intolerance, the Taliban.

Thank you for highlighting your racism and anti-semitism once more though, coward.

30. Northern Boy

I still don’t know what advantages EU membership offers the UK?

31. Paul Newman

Leon I love adore idea that the only thing that stops the might of your intellect prevailing is the bias of the media . Could it be, Leon, that you are wrong, and not only wrong, but neither especially well informed or intelligent ?
Lets see shall we, there is no bias here .

Firstly think about the issues. Has there ever been a majority in this country for being ruled by Brussels just for the sake of it ;you know, so they can make us allow prisoners to vote and be unable to control our borders, popular stuff like that? Absolutely not.

Lets be clear then.That is the true position of the pro EU nuts here, for god knows what utopian anti national reasons. And no-one supports it .

Aside from the Lib Con loons, there is the pragmatic problem that concerns the majority. The key question is this ” Would you leave the EU if a viable alternative trading relationship was possible?”

That proposition has near unanimous support for leaving not to say its own political Party currently on 6% not far off half the current Lib Dem Support. How anyone with a any residual belief in democracy weasel out of a referendum, at the very least with a pathetic “It might not be fair” excuse defeats me. A referendum ?! There should be immediate action taken by our elected representatives on our behalf , they already know what we want, why do you think they are avoiding the referendum?

On the media ,don`t get me started on the surveyed and proven bias of the BBC on Europe. I will simply have to quote the evidence again as if it were not obvious. The role of the Financial Times in the Euro debate gives you some idea of the power behind the yes lobby and thats not counting the non stop use of our money to persuade us by the EU itself
Who do you think finances and supports the Welsh and Cornish separatist movements and border regions, designed to undermine the integrity of the Nation.. go on ..ask me.

The question is not, do we stay in, or can we think for ourselves without the assistance of arrogant students .The question is ” Do we fear an protectionist assault by our Franco German enemies sufficiently that we dare not refuse their rule over us ?” In essence the suggestion of the pros is that we ought to.

Its a big scare story

1 Firstly the real problems of tarrifs in the 60s and 70s no longer exist and are better dealt with along global lines WTO and GATT , this will never be resolved but it is clearly not assisted at this point by an organisation whose purpose is to protect mighty whitey from cheap imports.

2 The EU has 53 Free Trade Agreements which will soon expand to 74 more . Other options are EFTA or the EEA which have costs but are still vastly better.

3 We would get the best agreement ever .They have more to lose than we do .Our trade deficit in manufactured good s is £34.9 billion including iconic brands in their biggest markets. BMW , Audi , Bosch Fridges Hi Fi its endless and then wine food and so on, we are a bigger customer to them than they are to us.The suggestion they refuse to sell us their cars and washing machines is childish. It will not happen.

3 One good reason why not is the fact that Europe and it high tax ultra regulated model is declining in relative terms . It was at 36% of world output in 1980 and is headed for 15% in 2020 much of which is only debt acquired form the real productive centres of the word who we have foolishly ignored.

(The parasite of rewarding failure has flourished in the post war European hot house because it could its time is no running out as the retreat of the left across Europe shows.)

4 -80% of British trade is internal of the 20% which we allow to ruin the rest 10% is EU bound which ,as we see is highly unlikely to e affected . Lets us say there is a 1 or 2% reallocation of our export to our better markets China India the US ,,..its all good, and the long term advantageous of engaging with the growing world economies are advantages we cannot afford not to capture anyway.

Norway only has to make a few changes to its laws to make its exports EU complaint and oddly enough this was precisely the deal that was sold to the British people the last time they were allowed a say in 1975. Its just a lie that we will have to do it all but have no sa ,( not that we have as say anyway )
Mean while under the coalition powers are continually flowing from Parliament , I can give you a list since the last election. Far from moving our way the flow is in the other direction costing jobs competitiveness and livelihoods at every turn.

We can no longer afford not to leave te EU and a referendum is required immediately from which the mandate will emerge. A decision now to confirm membership would be a disaster or ERM or Euro proportions .

Right then Leon , you were saying how clever you were .
Over to you.

32. theophrastus

Bob b @ 28:

“That’s rather depressing with half Britain’s exports going to other EU countries and with the EU continuing to make decisions on regulations and standards that will affect trade with the EU regardless of whether Britain’s representative are there at the negotiating table.”

Other major exporters to the EU – such as China, the US, Japan – all manage to cope with EU regulations and standards without having a seat at the negotiating table. The UK would have to do the same if it were outside the EU.

All too true, Mr May. But don’t expect people exposed to decades of vitriolic campaiging against the EU in the media to agree. The issue is tainted beyond repair.

34. Leon Wolfson

@31 – No, I’m just not a bigoted Tory, like you, who is arguing ever-harder for special interests.

“so they can make us allow prisoners to vote”

Not the EU of course, that’s down to the ECHR – this is the type of lie which I’m referring to – you keep on and on with it to supplant the truth with this kind of far-right nonsense.

At your point 4 – the external trade is of course necessary, which you’d know if you were actually competent to comment on it. Otherwise you have the same effect as lifting the wheels from the road. They keep on spinning, but you’re going nowhere. China? Set for it’s own crash. America? Struggling and going down. This is what you’d hitch us to, quite apart from your signing on the dotted “American Lapdog” line, as the Tories persistently do.

If you actually had a point other than corporatist maundering, you’d accept oh…the same campaign finance restrictions during referendums as are in place for general elections. But you won’t, of course. Tory *scum*. You can’t even pretend to defend the Union, which you’d deliberately fracture for party political advantage. You HATE the UK, and have only England in mind. Typically isolationist…

There has been no “retreat of the left”, politics have shifted right. And now they’re starting to move back in reaction. People are realising the damage the Right’s corporatist policies have done to the world.

You won’t be happy until England stands alone.

@32 – Look at the type of trade done in their own regional blocks, where they DO have the ability for people to freely cross the border on business. We can’t hand-wave away the necessity for the type and level of trade we have with the EU to be in the either the EFTA or EU, or suffer a major, major hit.

Straight after AV, because on the same day the SNP victory gave us a Scottish independence referendum, I lobbied to all my MSPs and MP these principles for referendum fair play. Got some supportive responses.

* That both sides should be required, and fully funded with parity, to send a booklet mailshot on their position to every household in the country that is voting. This surely was established constitutionally as a precedent for a campaign’s fair parity, in 1975 when the government arranged for these 2 mailshots to happen.

* That any factual claim made by one side’s campaign about the other’s position, the other campaign should be entitled to an equal scale of distribution to voters, in all ways, of their answer to the claims, as the original claim attained.

* That if, either during polling hours or after them, the winning side lets it be known, either voluntarily or by an admission under questioning, that one of the factual claims made in their campaign, against the other side’s position, had been false, then the result should not stand as valid.

36. Leon Wolfson

@35 – Well, it’s even more important that the funding be *transparent*, no? Westminster campaigns have too few protections as it is, which is why I argue for that as a minimum.

The kind of lies put out by the No AV campaign where not even shameless, they were transparent to anyone who’d actually studied it, but…

(I voted no because I don’t think AV solves anything and the change would be costly, but not based on the No campaign’s propaganda!)

@9 XXX

So three papers with a UK circulation of around 600,000 and the neutral BBC. I know you will disagree with the BBC’s impartiality but look at the BBC’s coverage of the referendum vote a point out where they have been biased. They report the facts and not opinions.

Even if you think they are pro-EU is it anywhere near as aggressive as the Daily Mail (circulation over 2,000,000), Daily Express (625,000), The Sun (2,800,000) and Daily Star (700,000)?

Leon,

(I voted no because I don’t think AV solves anything and the change would be costly, but not based on the No campaign’s propaganda!)

I still favour the argument that the No campaign would have won if they’d not bothered doing anything at all. AV was a change sought by politically active groups, almost all from one wing of the economic spectrum. It was never wanted by any substantial chunk of the population. Hence both campaigns were crap – one because it had nothing much to do, the other because it had too much to do.

A debate on the EU would be more interesting perhaps – and would perhaps require better campaigning. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think the two campaigns might generally be quite useful (if only because both would be inclusive and both would learn the mistakes of the AV referendum) – and both sides would be funded by dodgy backers (take your choice of hedge funds, banks, unions, misappropriated government funds etc – they are all split in this debate).

39. Leon Wolfson

@38 – Which don’t bear on points I was making – that the No campaign managed to propaganda certain lies into being commonly accepted in the media and the discussion, and that their funding was and remains secret.

Also, true PR was beating AV by 2:1 in opinion polls where it was an allowed option!

40. Paul Newman

Leon membership of the Council of Europe that agreed the ECHR, is a requirement for membership of the EU, and it was under the Human Rights Act that the case was made, in Strasbourg, forcing us to overturn our own laws. So yes Leon, it is direct as a result of the EU your hero Hurst was able to make his case. See how enlightening this open debate is, you are learning already and your glib ignorant lie is precisely the sort of thing that needs to be refuted
I must assume you did not read what I said about trade so I` ll ignore your weirdness on that subject.On the Union the Conservative Party have shown fantastic self sacrifice given years of New Labour buying Scottish votes with English democratic deficits. It largely in the hands of the Scots but the cynical politicking is all Labour,the chief beneficiaries.
If what you know about the EU is any guide you had little to add on the subject of AV, I barely noticed any campaign form either side outside normal Political campaigning and I think it is quite clear why you fear a referendum.

I don`t expect an admission… but it is, I assure you, obvious .

41. Paul Newman

Incidentally what has not wanting to be in the EU got to do with bigotry ?

42. Leon Wolfson

@40 – Misinformation as usual from the hard right there.

The ECHR was drafted by the Council of Europe in 1953, with Britain taking a leading role. It’s values are thoroughly British, and it’s disguising that both you and the Government want to cancel many of them.

The HRA allows cases which would otherwise go to the ECHR to be held in Britain, no more. It is not a tool of the EU, as you claim.

These lies and your insults show not only very clearly how you’re a not only a xenophobe, but a lying and spiteful individual into the bargain. Of course you’re all for buying referendums with the cash of your fellow travellers.

Tory. (Anything else is redundant)

@ 42 Leon,

why don’t you try being a bit more polite?

Mogz, 35: “That if, either during polling hours or after them, the winning side lets it be known, either voluntarily or by an admission under questioning, that one of the factual claims made in their campaign, against the other side’s position, had been false, then the result should not stand as valid.”

The flaw in that idea is that anyone could then pretend to campaign for the other side, state something untrue, then admit it afterwards.

Unlike elections where we vote for people (and hence can go by what they say), in referendums we vote for ideas, and there’s no way of determining who should represent each idea.

(As an aside, this is also why the “I voted No because the Yes campaign annoyed me” was rather moronic – if one thought a campaign for an idea was poor, they should get of their arse and do it themselves if they think they can do better.)

I think a better thing would be if the referendum was framed better in the first place. We should have had clear instructions of what AV would entail, so questions such as needing voting machines would be a matter of factual public record – and action taken against anyone politicially campaigning this falsehood.

Watchman: “AV was a change sought by politically active groups, almost all from one wing of the economic spectrum. It was never wanted by any substantial chunk of the population.”

I don’t see what left wing economics has to do with anything. I hate FPTP, but I am not left wing.

But no, the problem was that no one really wanted AV. The groups you talk of (and others) wanted a form of PR. It was simply that they viewed AV as a slightly less worse system than FPTP.

I disagree that 30% of the population isn’t substantial, even if it isn’t the majority.

If the No campaign felt they didn’t have much to do, why did they send leaflets (at taxpayers’ expense – it was they who cost the taxpayer more than the Yes campaign) to every household in the country?

I think the biggest problem is that people who don’t know or don’t care will favour the current system. It didn’t help that the referendum question informed people what FPTP was (explaining it was the system we now use), but said nothing about what AV was.

45. Leon Wolfson

@44 – “It was simply that they viewed AV as a slightly less worse system than FPTP.”

Not even that. Given the UK’s tendency in the past to have strong swings, AV can actually amplify their effect. It would have been unfair to the Tories in the past, for instance, potentially taking them down to below the current number of LibDem seats!

I really do believe that at least a partial PR system is necessary, and I’ll continue to campaign for it. (The left may well fracture more than the right. But it’ll be less painful to fracture in the first place, into the natural parties actually representing what their voters think and not the majoritan-forced coalitions called parties!)

Leon, amusing though this vein-throbbing eye-bulging outrage is; it does not changes the fact that membership of the Council is compulsory if you what to be a member of the EU and as such you are obliged to be signed up to the Convention which,as you say, is the same thing as the HRA which is its enactment into UK law.

In other words you cannot get out of the HRA is you want to be in the EU so it is not ,as you falsely claim,separate form the EU.

Now that was what you claimed, it is demonstrably incorrect and I think it might be nice if instead of witless bluster you admitted that so we can move on with our enlightening debate .The first thing we discover is that once separate form the EU we are in a much stronger position to adjust our legal relationship with other European institutions, the second, that they are interlinked.
I do not agree that the HRA is imbued with British values and the involvement of the British establishment in the entire project is scarcely a telling blow . The Eurosceptic case says the establishment did sell us out not that it didn`t. How do you think we come to be here?

If withdrawing from the EU is really being done as a stepping stone to pulling out of international human rights treaties, then I won’t be supporting such a thing.

48. Leon Wolfson

@46 – The outrage against the Human rights “forced on us” is yours.

As I said, we signed when it first came out, long before the very idea of the EU came about, under the auspices of the Council of Europe.

There can be no debate as long as you’re insistent on your lie that they’re related, that the ECHR and HRA are anything to do with the EU. What rights in the ECHR do you oppose, precisely? The prohibition on torture? slavery? The right to a proper trial?

There are problems with how the HRA has implemented the ECHR in the UK, but those are problems we can fix without changing a single treaty. And it’s a disgrace that this government is in defiance of a ECHR ruling…it puts us on par with the tinpot dictatorships of this world, and Russia’s autocracy.

TT @ 43:

“why don’t you try being a bit more polite?”

Because he’s a troll. Or an idiot. Either way, it’s not worth debating with him.

Mark @ 44:

“don’t see what left wing economics has to do with anything.”

A lot of people were talking of how AV would enable the “progressive majority” to “keep the right out of power”. I think that’s what he was referring to.

To answer the question in the title, absolutely bugger all chances from the looks of it.

52. Leon Wolfson

@43 – With people who clearly have no liberal or left wing values are constantly negative on here, and who lie outrageously, why should I NOT call them on it?

@51 – Exactly!

53. Paul Newman

What is the matter with you Leon , are you demented ? I have explained precisely how the EU and the HRA are related its not that complicated or obscure. If you are unable to follow then there is little I can do about it .
This, ladies and gentlemen ,is the sort of person who feels the public are too stupid to have a vote about their own future and their own country.

@53 – Leon is being impolite, but he is actually correct. You are in the wrong. Sorry!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Joseph Burnett

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? Not high, says @AndyMay101 – http://t.co/wcniOUIv

  2. Alan Lai

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? Not high, says @AndyMay101 – http://t.co/wcniOUIv

  3. Martin Deane

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? None http://t.co/Rltzi1na

  4. Andy May

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? Not high, says @AndyMay101 – http://t.co/wcniOUIv

  5. Ben Cadwallader

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? Not high, says @AndyMay101 – http://t.co/wcniOUIv

  6. Alex Braithwaite

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/5yjK9Z0h via @libcon

  7. Phil Maylor

    What are the chances of a proper debate on the EU? http://t.co/Qd9yrWIh

  8. Stephen Glenn

    Good post on the chances of a proper debate on the EU if/when one happens http://t.co/mmYVpqL3

  9. Maria Pretzler

    Andy May, formerly of #Yes2AV, on what would happen in a #EUreferendum: lies will work again, unless we change rules – http://t.co/SCA4XdT1

  10. James Clayton

    Despite my generally pro-referendum RTs today, @AndyMay101 is right: No more referenda before a guarantee of honesty: http://t.co/ukyWGb55





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