Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reflecting on the EU Referendum Vote

I’ve been reflecting on the EU Referendum and the disastrous outcome. The common response to people like me is to claim it was democratic and we have to accept the result, but was it and do we? Fundamentally, I believe the Referendum was flawed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it does help us look back and reflect on what we could have done differently and I think there are several big problems with the vote. Firstly, INCLUSION, I have posted several times during the campaign about the decision NOT to offer the vote to 16 and 17 year olds as was done in the Scottish vote on devolution. I was surprised this wasn’t the case and even more surprised that nobody seemed to be talking about it. The argument at the time in Scotland was that it was such a huge decision that would have longer impact on that generation – so why didn’t we do it for the whole of the UK. Second, with such a huge important decision, we should have adopted the Australian model and made it compulsory to vote. Without this, only 46m were eligible by registering and only 33.6m actually did. It’s shocking that people chose not to vote in such a huge decision, I wonder how they feel about the result. Third, I think the vote should have been open not just to UK citizens, but to anybody who had the right to that citizenship. That means anybody who has lived here for 5 years and no intention to leave – they have made this country their home and should have had the opportunity to have a say on its future. This might be a bit controversial, but actually if you were going to vote Remain then you are European minded and believe together we are stronger, perhaps we should have tested that principle in the vote. Finally, a word about the PROCESS. Before the vote and during the campaign I don’t recall any discussion or explanation as to how it actually would work and more importantly how different it was from the usual election when local votes are tallied to decide the local area decision – and not aggregated for the national count. I had never even considered that people would do a “protest vote” and was shocked to hear interviews with people who had done exactly that and were shocked at the outcome. This is a failure of both campaigns not to inform and educate as to how it all worked. Put all these factors together and I believe we had the perfect storm of limiting the total voting population whilst not ensuring that those who were actually motivated to vote were well informed about the consequences of their actions . What can we do about it? I honestly don’t know if we can, but I will support any democratic and legal actions to reverse this terrible, terrible decision.

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