John Curtice, writing in The Guardian, in the land where John Locke was borne, seems confused on the question. His proximate piece is his missive on the nature of referenda in Great Britain. He began that piece with a false premise of very large proportion, and that—as false premises are wont to do—set the tone for the rest of his op-ed.
In the Commons debates on Brexit during the last fortnight, many MPs have found themselves voting for something they do not believe in. Instead of being their constituents’ “representative”, they now appear to be no more than the people’s “delegate”.
Yet, what else can a representative of constituents be but their delegate? Unless Curtice means an MP must be the front for their constituents—to “represent” by doing in Parliament what he deems best for them regardless of what they might think is best for themselves.
The thing went downhill from there; he identified four aspects of the referendum on Great Britain’s choice to go out from the EU or to remain within its confines that he considered “cause for concern.”
First, the promise to hold one [the Brexit referendum] was only made because David Cameron found it politically convenient to do so.
Because that motive somehow invalidates the concept of the British people having a voice. Sure.
Second, the campaign period was relatively short. Only five months….
Because a mere commoner is just too ignorant or stupid to understand a simple question like “Do you want to stay in the EU or go out from it?” unless their betters, their…MPs…and the Curtices of the nation complexify the thing and then “explain” it to them.
Third, unlike most previous referendums, voters were being invited to endorse the status quo rather than a proposal for change.
Yeah, that’s a confusing change-up. Uh, huh. Oh, and no plan for going out were that choice voted up despite the confusion? That’s part of the Betters’ effort at complexifying. The question was go or stay, not what to do if the choice selected were go or stay.
Fourth, though often forgotten, the EU vote was the second referendum bite at the European cherry. The issue had supposedly been settled by the referendum Harold Wilson called in 1975.
Because once taken, a decision can never be changed. The grandchildren must never be allowed to change from their grandparents’ path. Well, I suppose that’d be one way to decomplexify the thing.
…it is time to lay down some systematic rules about when a referendum should be held – and should not.
How else to have the commoners’ Betters keep control of the outcome, after all?
Not allowing referendums to take place when there is no detailed proposal for the change in question might be a good place to start.
Who gets to decide the adequacy of the “detailed proposal?” Who gets to demand that there be voice of the people, no referendum, until a satisfactory “detailed proposal” is sufficiently in place? And sufficiently debated (by whom)?
You know who. Because the people exist just to give the Betters in Government something to do.