Monday, October 31, 2011

Michael Meadowcroft provides more reasons why the Lib Dems should stop calling for referendums on Europe

The former Liberal MP Michael Meadowcroft emails in response to my Liberal Democrat News article saying the party should stop calling for referendums on Europe.

He provides two more arguments in support of my case:
The public votes in a referendum far more on its current perception of the popularity of the government or leader proposing it. That was true in the UK referendum on AV last May where it was more of a vote on whether or not one liked Nick Clegg than on the benefits or otherwise of AV. Equally the French voted "No" on the European constitution on 29 May 2005 when Chirac's unpopularity was at 66% in the polls.
Also, the turnout at referenda in the UK is invariably lower than at the comparable general election. The public may well demand a referendum - and who wouldn't - but they don't bother to vote in them! The vote at the 2010 General Election was 65.1% but at the AV referendum it was only 42.2%.
You can read more from Michael on this subject in an old Yorkshire Post article of his that he reproduces on his own website.

Sadly, it also reveals that Michael and I find ourselves on opposite sides of a far more rancorous debate - that over the correct plural of "referendum".

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