Friday, November 25, 2016

All European referendum campaign promises were worthless

Vote Leave Watch has helpfully put together a collection of the most extravagant promises made by the Leave campaign during this year's Euro referendum.

Here are some examples:
"Asylum and Immigration Control Bill...The Bill would end the discrimination against non-EU citizens and create a genuine points-based immigration system in which the possession of suitable skills is a key element." Vote Leave press release, 15 June 2016
"If we Vote Leave we will be able to stop handing over so much money to the EU and we would be able to spend our money on priorities here in the UK like abolishing prescription charges." Gisela Stuart, Vote Leave press release, 5 April 2016
"The EU has spent £264 million on just four bridges in Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, more than the £250 million that is forecast to be spent on the UK’s Pothole Action Fund in the next five years. After we Vote Leave, we can spend our money on our priorities like fixing our roads. Taxpayers’ money should be spent on filling in potholes in Britain, rather than being squandered on foreign bridges to nowhere." Vote Leave Campaign Email, 2 February 2016
 It's easy to laugh, though hard to laugh enough,

Because all promises in the referendum campaign were worthless. What do I do when prescription charges are not abolished? Complain to Gisela Stuart?

There's no point. She is only a backbench opposition MP and, judging by the opinion polls, after the next election she won't be even that.

Equally, if Remain had won and you didn't like the way things turned out, there would have been little point complaining to Will Straw CBE or Ryan Coetzee.

You could have tried David Cameron or George Osborne, but there was no guarantee that they, or even their party, would still be in government by the time you had doubts.

Where referendums have worked it has been when the full implications of changing the status quo had already been spelt out, as in the Scottish and Welsh referendums.

Even then, referendums do not work well. The one on the Alternative Vote, for instance, turned into a vote on whether or not people liked Nick Clegg. (They didn't.)

Which is why I am a great supporter of representative democracy - what George Watson called "the English ideology".

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