British politics and the referendum

4 Jul

At the end of WWII Churchill wished to hold a referendum on any settlement in Europe. His deputy, Clement Atlee refused, as he believed that it was not the British way. Atlee was elected with a large majority and went on to lead the most radical government in our history. We elect our MPs and they are supposed to take decisions for us, as our representatives. Margaret Thatcher agreed with Atlee and would never have held a referendum. It is much to the discredit of Tony Blair that he first suggested a referendum on EU membership, and to the great discredit of David Cameron that he organised a plebiscite with a binary question to be won by a simple majority.

There were four questions answered in referendums (referenda?), by the Nazi’s in the 1930s. They rubber-stamped the Anschluss of Austria and making the country a one-party state. All were voted on and passed with large majorities. Historically referendums are much used by extremist regimes. They should have no part in our political system. In contrast, we recently voted in new police commissioners. This is a form of democracy we have imported from the US. But do we really want to elect the dog catcher? Surely the job of selection should be made by our elected representatives. Oh, and we need to change our voting system to ensure that all opinions are represented, not just of those who went to Eton or Harrow, Oxford and the Bullingham club.

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