Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ed Davey and the Great Lib Dem Walk Out

As I have never been keen on the idea of a referendum on British membership, I find it hard to get too excited by yesterday's events.

Peter Riddell, writing in this morning's Times, gets it about right:
we need a proper debate on how and when referendums should be held so that they are not just matters of short-term political convenience
That debate could being within the Liberal Democrats. The idea of a referendum on EU membership had hardly occurred to us before Ming Cambell announced that it was party policy. Now it is such a point of principle that our MPs cannot bear to stay in the House if they are denied a chance to vote for it. It is all very confusing.

And respect to Riddell for using the correct plural of "referendum".


Jonny Wright said...

Well, you've educated me. I always thought the plural of referendum was referenda, but you're quite right - it's referendums, and the OED agrees with you.

You make a very good point - referendums are so rare in the UK that there's very little precedent for what circumstances justify them. It would be good to set out some criteria that differentiate a referendum issue from an issue that can be decided by Parliament, as well as the status of the mandate parties get by standing at a general election on a particular manifesto. There's very little clarity on all of this.

Anonymous said...

And with at least two referendums potentially there to fight for in electoral reform as well it's definitely the right time to make such a push.

Good idea.

rob's uncle said...

I think stunts like this simply make us look ridiculous.

Chris Squire [Twickenham]