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October 24, 2011


Phil Ruse

This "if we give people the option of expressing a clear preference, we also give them the chance to express an irrational one" - there's a name for that...

Paul Evans


Is it 'reification'?


Two reasons why voting in referendums are not like voting for parties:

1) Voting of a 'bundle' is intrinsic to the exercise and parties that try and reduce the bundle to one over-riding issue are inclined to lose more often than not. It's surely not entirely coincidental that this is what the Tories tried to do under Hague, with "x-number of days to save the pound"? I wouldn't know but one got the sense that it was the attempt to make what is customarily a 'bundle' vote into a single issue that didn't go down too well.

2) Parties are elected to serve a constitutionally limited period of time. The idea that this principle - or an elongated version of it, which you seem to be suggesting - should be extended to the membership of institutions that are supposed to endure for generations doesn't strike me as being very sensible. The Tory rebels obviously don't think the results of the 70s referendum on EEC membership are binding - so why have another one if the results are to be similarly interpreted? The only logical path this sort of thinking takes you is 'neverendums', which is one of the problems people like Paul and myself have with plebiscites: politicians have them when they think they'll give the results they want and if they turn out to have miscalculated, they have them again. it's one aspect that I find is rarely noted; plebiscites are surely the most dishonest forms in which *party* politics can take? Looking forward to this in Scotland.


Any referendum is a negation of Parliamentary supremacy and Tory and Labour both say they support Parliamentary Supremacy! I think it would be logical to have referenda if we had a direct Democracy as in Switzerland as there is the initiative as well; so the agenda is set by the public. Just having referenda to allow discontented factions in parties to let off steam has no attraction. Any fair referenda should be multi option! That gets around the bundle problem of combined choices. But then why have Parliament at all? Just have referenda every week and send the MPs packing? If the Tory right do not want to be told what to do by Cameron have a putsch and elect a new leader. That is the Parliamentary method to change policy and they can do it tomorrow if they have the votes.


Getting serious after the frivolity of the other replies.. How can we persuade Chris to illustrate these articles more often? A picture is worth a thousand words



But preferably not a a picture of a haggard Arsene Wenger

Paolo SIciliani

I beg to differ, in my view, under an EU referendum the choice will still be bundled.

Let me explain. The EU is a solution to a "race to the bottom", in that it allows member states to raise the regulatory standards in a coordinated/binding way, thanks to the fact that the ECJ's oversight will prevent cheating (i.e., a prisoners' dilemma, once again).

That is to say, devolution to Brussels is not to be understood as undemocratic (technocratic ruling), but as the only way to enforce higher welfare standards by enforcing what in effect is a sanctioned cartel. For example, a sanctioned cartel among states is what would be needed to increase corporate taxation uniformly across the board to prevent mobile corporation to arbitrage around in search of lower tax rates.

Hence, broadening the scope of the EU (legitimate cartel mechanism) to include matters such as corporate taxes and social policies has to be typically leftish, as this would be the only way for member states to try to rein in capitalist....

Therefore, a call to leave the EU is inherently a right-wing call. This is even more the case if you consider that at the same time the UK govt is also urging further integration within the Euro zone. That is, the UK will be in a stronger position where it wishes to position like a bigger Switzerland versus the Eurozone, thus systematically undercutting EU standards on social and tax policies.....

Clearly the argument would be that if you are the only country playing Reganomics within the single market that must be expansionary, but this is totally short-sighted, as either the “race to the bottom” will resume (and everyone will be worse-off, as the prisoners’ dilemma unfold) or the Eurozone members will react with protectionism against the (cheating) UK.

In conclusion, the EU referendum is tightly bundled with the neoliberal agenda.


The combination of the fabulous Flavia with that chubby star-reader Russell Grant is possibly an even stronger argument for unbundling.


"Anyone over the age of 46 could have voted Labour in the 1983 election, as they wanted to withdraw from the EU"

Which is an unusual thing to claim in itself, seeing as the EU only came in to existence in 1993!

Pedantry? Perhaps, but the EEC, EC and EU are not one and the same.

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