One sighting of the #HomeToVote crowd partying with rainbow flags and balloons on London to Holyhead trains, made me confident that this was going to be a positive day, a great day, for equality
…and I am delighted that every single part of Ireland voted for equal rights and against the dogma of fear…
But the wider debate on the rationale for referendums has hit English airwaves, and I feel a sense of foreboding.
The recent referendum that “settled” Scotland as a part of the UK is already seeming to be a temporary barrier to a rising tide of nationalism. The passions behind the “Yes” campaign make me wonder if a next referendum that was phrased, “Do you want Scotland to remain part of the UK?” actually produced a stronger majority for remaining governed from Westminster, because the YES vote would carry the day? (Many people having failed to study the issue and just believing “Yes” was a good thing to vote for).
Douglas Carswell is a fan of referendums, saying that, particularly, the veto type on governmental grand schemes are the way forward. I wonder if he realises that the party he has chosen to join would lead a massive vote “yes” to deliberately drowning asylum seekers and a return of capital punishment for those wrongly convicted of child abuse and murder?
Of course, that is not how a referendum would be worded but it illustrates the hazards of putting things to the national vote, (Polls suggest that 70% of the nation would support the reintroduction of capital punishment). My father’s generation, decimated by a war where Polish, Irish, West Indian, Australian and other comrades fell on the battlefields of Europe, believed strongly that a united Europe was a key, possibly THE key, to maintaining peace in a continent that had sent successive generations to be massacred, for a millennium…
The younger generation, including Carswell, that see Europe as a purely trading and political project gone wrong are likely to vote differently to how the public did in 1975, when most veterans were still alive. Scotland, apparently ironically, wants to be divorced from the UK but retain conjugal rights with the whole of Europe. The Northern Irish Unionists want to remain part of the UK – but only a UK that will stick in the 1840s.
The Welsh apparently like their current level of devolution, polling quite strongly in favour of the union, but the political momentum is likely to move again after 5 years of Tory dominance from afar that makes more unemployed Welsh seek smaller digs due to a bedroom tax.
Maybe we should have another referendum in Wales soon? – I was able to vote in the last one, having been living there for 20 years. Now having moved back to England but with daughters and grandchildren born and raised there, I would like to be able to vote to retain the current border arrangements…but I guess I wouldn’t. The UK’s people resident in England don’t get a vote on keeping our member groups – or on getting rid of Northern Ireland (I’d vote for that). I would want a referendum to decide that the whole population of the UK should be allowed to vote on such massive changes to the UK constitution and makeup.
What other referendums might we hold that could unite the whole populace in helping strengthen Britain’s development?
Having referendums every 6 months (as has happened in France and Switzerland at times) might highlight one of the perils of constantly going to the people, namely, we are by and large an ignorant lazy bunch who would rather read tabloids and watch crap on telly than make intelligent difficult decisions affecting our culture and national identity.
I suspect that the coming EU referendum will turn out a bit like the Scottish one, – a small majority in favour of staying in, but an increased momentum to have another go at leaving, that could be swung on the basis of whether the question is phrased as a “Yes” or a “No”
In the meantime, it’s at least good to see the Catholic church sensing its own increasing irrelevance in a more secular Ireland than has ever existed, a country where it once ruled by fear and the kind of behind the scenes influence only trumped by modern day big business.
So while I strive to get people to think about the horrific implications of TTIP, the benefits of an EU that needs reform, the massive need to correct a failed electoral system, the bigoted nationalism of the masses and their gross manipulation by the non-dom media barons, I can still smile and say: