Tag Archives: Referendum

The Missing Link (1)

A few days ago Simon Jenkins, witing in the Guardian, had an article entitled: Someone to hire – someone to fire. This dealt with local government and maintained that while national government may be a democracy, local government is a failed state. This article and its topic is one to which I will return in a few days time, but the phrase: someone to hire, someone to fire is pertinent to that which follows.

From the announcement of the referendum on this country’s EU membership until the eventual result, there is a missing link: the people.

The people have no ‘avenue’ to force any government to give them a referendum on this subject, or come to that any matter affecting their lives, or their country. The people are reliant on the largesse of their government of the day to grant them a voice.

It follows, therefore, the political class ‘hold the whip hand’.

Yes, the people can place a petition on the government website and if it gains sufficient votes Pariament will/may debate said petition, but that does not mean that Parliament, if there is a debate, will vote to grant the people their wish.

It follows, therefore, that the political class ‘hold the whip hand’.

Once the referendum was called the Electoral Commission became responsible for the conduct of the referendum and for appointing the ‘lead’ campaigns on both sides of the argument. Who appoints anyone to the Electoral Commission? The ‘Speakers Committee’. Three members of the Speakers Committee are part of that committee due their status of  ‘ex-officio’, ie, by means of holding another position: the Speaker of the House of Commons (Chair); the Lord President of the Council; and the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee. The remaining members (5) are nominated by the Speaker on the basis that they are not Ministers of the Crown; and are then voted on by the House of Commons.

It follows, therefore, the political class ‘hold the whip hand’.

As mentioned previously, the Electoral Commmission are given the power to appoint ‘lead designation’ status to any group who they consider sufficiently suitable/qualified to lead both sides of the argument.

It follows, therefore, the political class ‘hold the whip hand’.

It is an oddity that this referendum, which is a means whereby the people are supposed to be able to decide their future, cannot, due to what amounts to political control.

It follows, therefore, the political class ‘hold the whip hand’.

If the people are the masters, something David Cameron famously maintained outside 10 Downing Street, having usurped office in May 2010, then he and his political class have an odd way of demonstrating that.

It is now, I believe, becoming plain to any thinking person that we are involved, where this referendum is concerned) in what has become a game, one in which we are facing a ‘stacked deck’ – and the deeper one delves into what passes nowadays for democracy, the greater can be seen how stacked the deck has become.

While anyone, be they politicians, members of a regulatory body, etc, feed from the public teat, then the phrase: someone to hire, someone to fire, becomes even more pertinent. While representative democracy is allowed to continue unabated, there always will be a missing link in that process.

Just saying………….


A swift divorce?

An article appeared on Reuters yesterday, mentioned by Richard North in his article, which stated that, in the event of a Leave vote by the electorate of the United Kingdom, the European Union would seek a swift divorce from the United Kingdom, coupled with statements by two EU sources familiar with the bloc’s latest thinking on a possible Brexit telling Reuters on Thursday that there was no appetite to grant any extension of the two years provided by Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty for negotiating a withdrawal, while any new trade partnership would take many more years to conclude. The Reuters article also states that tentative plans exist for the Commission to hold a rare Sunday meeting on June 26 to set its strategy; and that EU leaders would hold a brief summit with Britain two days later, at which London would be expected to give formal notice to quit.

It should be noted that the LIsbon Treaty contains no provision whereby the European Union can ‘divorce’ any Member State who adheres to its rules; and that divorce proceedings can only be instituted by a Member State stating, through Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, that it wishes to start such proceedings.

It should also be noted that European Leaders can ‘expect’ all they want, but again there is no requirement that Article 50 should be formally lodged within days of any referendum calling for a divorce from the European Union. It must though be remembered that David Cameron stated in the House of Commons on 22nd February 2016: If the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger Article 50 of the treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away. Being the good European Union lackey that Cameron undoubtedly is, the European Leaders may well get their wish.

It appears to becoming increasingly obvious that Cameron will get the result for which he wishes; due to not only his lying and misrepresenting facts in relation to the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, but also the ineptitude of Vote_Leave and other ‘Out’ campaigns, the political class and other commentators and economists (see article linked to above), none of whom appear to know anything about the subject matter and who are unable to present a coherent, consensual case. As a result Cameron can sleep easy without having to worry about triggering Article 50 – or when.

Another very important point that needs to be made is that not one of the Leave Groups, with the notable exception of The Leave Alliance, have presented any exit plan or strategy for so doing, other than their stated belief that, in the twinkling of an eye, a trade agreement could be done.

FlexCit, the exit plan supported by The Leave Alliance, incorporates what is intended as a holding position’ while a fresh arrangement is negotiated. This would involve the United Kingdom applying to rejoin EFTA and the EEA, thus safeguarding continued trade with the European Union but not being subjected to what is termed the ‘political baggage’.

Interestingly, any application to EFTA for membership is entirely a matter for those states – the EU has no voice. On that point leading Norwegians have, in effect, said that the UK would be welcome in EFTA. According to the EEA Agreement any application for membership of the EEA is heard by the EEA Council which consists of the members of the Council of the European Communities and members of the EC Commission, and of one member of the Government of each of the EFTA States. Decisions by the EEA Council shall be taken by agreement between the Community, on the one hand, and the EFTA States, on the other (Article 90: EEA Agreement). Any European State becoming a member of the Community shall, and the Swiss Confederation or any European State becoming a member of EFTA may, apply to become a party to this Agreement. It shall address its application to the EEA Council (Article 128: EEA Agreement).

Reverting to the Reuters article, one gets the impression that the EU is indulging in a little ‘muscle flexing’ while at the same time ‘puffing out its chest’ with a view to intimidating the UK. Simplistic as it may well be, but what better way to deflate chests and unflex muscles than, following a Leave vote, to trigger Article 50 and at the first meeting inform the EU that whilst we wish to leave we are not completely leaving as (thud) thats a copy of our application to rejoin EFTA and (thud) thats a copy of our application to rejoin the EEA. In the ensuing silence then pose the question: next?





Democracy for sale?

Mark Wallace, writing on ConservativeHome, reports Michael Crick is tweeting that the Conservative Party is ‘watering-down’ its manifesto pledge of trade union reforms and that a ‘deal’ has been struck between ministers and unions, thus allowing Alan Johnson’s pro-EU campaign to spend £1.7m over and above the £75,000 provided by the referendum rules. 

The fear the government has that it will need Labour votes come the referendum in order to achieve the Remain result they want is apparently the reason for the ‘watering-down’ of its general election manifesto pledge.

We all know that David Cameron is using every trick in the book in order to get his Remain result, including telling porkies, etc; and if Crick’s statements on twitter are correct – and to date the government has not denied the ‘deal’ – then this is a dispicable act which subverts democracy.

Electoral fraud or vote rigging is illegal interference with the process of an election and one can but consider that that is exactly what is happening. Even though it is perfectly legal for unions to donate money to their favoured party, in this case the means whereby it is being accomplished can only be considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws and in violation of the principles of democracy.

When considering the words ‘moral’ and ‘Honourable’ with regard to politicians it would appear we have a prime example of an oxymoron.


More twaddle from those who should know better……….

Yesterday saw the publication of a report from the HoC Foreign Affairs Committee, one entitled: Implications of the referendum on EU memmbership for the UK’s role in the world.

As with the electorate, the Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledges that it too is divided on the question of Britain’s EU membership; stating that they see this division as an opportunity to provide an informed and balanced analysis. Reading those words it was hoped that an informed and balanced analysis would be forthcoming; unfortunately all the report informed us was that, once again, those attempting to enlighten the electorate demonstrated their total lack of understanding of even basic facts. As a result my view of this FAC report is not very high, if I may be so ‘Crispin’.

We do not have to wait long (pages 14/15) for the first example of misinformation:  In exchange for access to the single market, both the EEA states and Switzerland must pay into the EU budget and adopt a large proportion of EU law—including free movement of people—but they have no say in how those laws are made. No acknowledgement is made of the fact that Norway sits, in her own right, on various UN bodies – UNECE and Codex for example – where standards are set which are then handed down to member countries, including the EU, for implementation. Neither is there any acknowedgement that, in general, the EU is a ‘law taker’ rather than a ‘law maker’.

On page 16 we are informed that  Professor Sir Alan Dashwood QC is of the opinion that if the UK left the EU, it would lose access to trade agreements and would revert to trading with those countries under basic World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. According to Professor Dashwood and other submissions of evidence – both to this inquiry and to a parallel inquiry by the Treasury Select Committee – the UK would have to start from scratch if it wished to negotiate successor agreements. If this report by the FAC were ‘balanced’ and they knew that about which they pontificate, surely they would make mention of ‘treaty continuity’ and the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties – both points covered in this article by Richard North. Having said that, the report does mention, on page 16, an IEA paper by Iain Mansfield in which he states the UK would retain its obligations under FTAs it signed as an EU Member State. Point 22 on this page then states: ….those agreements would face significant operational complications if it took many years to establish the terms of the new relationship between the UK and EU, since the extent of the UK’s access to the single market would affect the terms of its FTAs with third states. Yet surely the extent of the UK’s access to the single market would hardly change were the UK to become a member of EFTA.

It is noted that Richard North has passed comment on this FAC report, hence there is no need for me to continue finding fault – do pop over and read his views.

Politicians are adamant that the decision to remain or leave is one for the electorate yet they continually meddle – and mislead – in a process that as politicians they have no part; actions which in no way assist the electorate to form an opinion on the referendum question. Neither are the electorate assisted in forming an opinion by the two designated lead campaigners, both of whom shun fact in favour of fairy tales.

Presumably we elect Members of Parliament to look after our interests and in so doing we trust they have sufficient knowedge and expertise so to do. Unfortunately that idea is then ‘shot to hell’ by Bernard Jenkin (commented on in the aforementioned FAC article by Richard North). That such a senior backbencher can write a letter to a constituent which contains views which can only be described as idiocy personified, beggars belief. That which he can claim is having ‘killed two birds with one stone’; namely his status as an MP coupled with his position as Director of Vote_Leave.

It is noted from Richard North’s article that Mr. Brexit believes that post-referendum there needs to be a reckoning, to which one can but say: hear, hear. Metaphorically speaking one also hopes that said reckoning involves pikes and staffs or lamp posts and piano wire – meaning that never again should we, the people, place our trust in those who know not and who seem only interested in their personal prestige. The Harrogate Agenda anyone?





A Question:

There has been much ‘discussion’ about the fact that David Cameron has ‘ruled’ that those members of the Cabinet who are agin membership of the EU in the forthcoming referendum should not be allowed access to government papers to further their case.

 Leaving to one side that they are also members of the electorate, this begs the question why should those who, whilst being members of the government, be denied the information that is available to those who agree with him?

Just where is the difference twixt the two if democracy is to mean owt? Come to that, why should ‘we plebs’ also be denied that information if we are to make an informed decision?

If ever any one subject demanded the introduction of The Harrogate Agenda, is this not surely it; because does not Cameron’s decision mean that we do indeed live under democratised dictatorship?

Cameron is not ‘rigging’ the referendum? Oh yes he is!

Just saying/asking………….



Some questions

It is always a source of amusement when reading the outpourings of political commentators on the subject of democracy. One only has to consider this from Gabby Hinsliff (and where she is concerned, ‘Gabby’ is so appropriate); or this from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; or this from Philip Booth.

The first two articles centre on l’affaire Mark Clarke and intimate that young potential politicians, to quote Hinsliff: …..weren’t knifing each other over ways to change the world, but over getting seats, or jobs with MPs, or proximity to power of any kind. Hey, never mind the ‘young’ tag; isn’t that what politicians of all ages do? Alibhai-Brown reckons: degradation of politics by any party disables our democracy, and no party is immune to the effects. Hey, in order to disable democracy, first it is necessary to have democracy. That of Booth’s centres on the fact that: we have representation without taxation and an intrinsic big government bias in the electoral system, while suggesting that: a proper federal structure must be created for the UK.

What we have with all these articles is an extension of the accusatation contained in my preceding article; namely that we are blessed with brain-dead political commentators or ‘hacks’ who know not the meaning of research; who, to quote from a comment from the preceding article: would think that an aspirational writer, looking for another angle to be a little bit original, would seize upon something that is not being discussed by other reporters or columnists.

The answer to all the ‘complaints’ in the linked articles already exists, namely: The Harrogate Agenda.

However this blog – and many of its readers – are slightly puzzled. It has been written:  ……The Harrogate Agenda cannot stand aloof from the anti-EU movement, and wait until it has achieved it aim, in order that we should be able to progress ours; likewise it has been written: ……there is little point in recovering powers from the EU, only to hand them back to the same institutions that gave them away in the first place (FlexCit –  page 375). Neither can it be, as the Director of THA informed me in an email, that once the Referendum Planning Group (RPG) launches, hopefully THA will receive more coverage (my emphasis).

We all know that the European Union is not ‘democracy’ by any manner of means, but then neither is the system of democracy currently prevalent; so: why is THA stage six of FlexCit; why, if there is little point in recovering powers from the EU only to hand them back to the same institutions that gave them away in the first place; and why is it only hoped that once RPG launches, THA will receive more coverage, when it has already been stated The Harrogate Agenda cannot stand aloof from the anti-EU campaign – which it currently does.

The questions in the preceding paragraph have been raised previously on this blog and still no answer (logical or otherwise) has been forthcoming. Bearing in mind the greatest reason given for over a third of the electorate not participating in local or general elections is that for whoever they vote, nothing changes; is not THA the answer to their complaint? It has also been maintained on this blog that reaching that section of the electorate will be crucial to winning the referendum, because if shown that within the EU (and within representative democracy) they can never have a voice, then once that understanding is embedded, the result surely cannot be in doubt.

So I repeat: why is THA stage six of FlexCit?

Readers should know by now that I am behind FlexCit but with one doubt about the ‘stage order’. Let me say at the outset that by raising that doubt does not mean I am being argumentative, working against Brexit or undermining FlexCit or RPG; but is:

Just asking why THA is not being run alongside, but separate to, FlexCit and with equal prominence?






Time waits for no man – so they say

With Leave EU and Vote Leave behaving like two ferrets in a sack, the CBI publishing a pamphlet with so many inaccuracies contained therein – at which point one has to wonder at their audacity in even publishing it – and the Referendum Planning Group (RPG) not entering the fray so we are informed until February next year, the question to be asked is whether the public are being provided with balanced information.

While the RPG believe the ‘battle’ does not begin until David Cameron sets out his agenda, presumably they are keeping their ‘powder dry’ – fond as they are for military phraseology – unfortunately it would seem that events have overtaken their planning in that the two aforementioned ‘Outer’ Groups – and the joke that passes for the ‘In’ group – have ‘upped the anti’ somewhat.

Readers will recall the phrase: ‘many a mickle makes a muckle’ (often misunderstood) but intended to convey the idea that many little things can add up to a lot. The more the three aforementioned groups are allowed on the playing field with no opposing team facing them, the more ‘goals’ they will score.

The problem with waiting for Cameron is that, with all the misinformation being put out by Leave EU, Vote Leave and BSE, the public may well have made up their minds which way they intend voting; in which case – where RPG are concerned – the battle may well have been lost; unless of course there is a strategy for countering months of misinformation into just weeks.

According to Ryan Heath, Politico (Brussels): The Commission still prefers to finalize a package for the U.K. in December, but can live with a delay of a few months into 2016. What they are much more interested in is the referendum taking place by June 2016. The thinking is that the longer it takes for a referendum to be held, the more chances there are for another Calais-style migration crisis. The nightmare scenario is a Brexit referendum that becomes an immigration referendum by proxy.

What credence one can attribute to that view I leave up to readers; however following Cameron’s intention to set out his demands in a letter to Tusk and the more than possible wish of the Commission to finalize a ‘deal’ by December, then a referendum next year is a possibility – especially as Cameron has obviously ‘given up’ on achieving treaty change prior to his intended referendum in 2017, settling instead on ‘promises of further protocols/associate membership/or any other ‘jiggery-pokey’ with which he can ‘up-conjure’.

It could be asked where is the Electoral Commission – who will make the decision of who is ‘Lead Campaign’ on both sides – when those from whom it appears they will be choosing make ‘false claims’; and if those contestants are making false claims now, will we ever be given the truth.

The one loser, while ‘jockeying for position’ is played out, is the electorate – but hey, what does that matter while those who vie for the ability to play with our minds continue their egotistical ‘little games’.

Just saying………………………






The Forgotten Factor?

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

In a comment on this article one commenter made the point that whenever The Harrogate Agenda is mentioned on this blog, it is not long before Confucius also gets mentioned; so I thought I would do likewise,  but I digress – although only slightly.

Whilst on the subject of The Harrogate Agenda, the same commenter, who is fond of quoting Confucius asked, in that same article and repeated same in an email to me, If you are party to a secret formula for the advancement of THA, which you say you support, then why not act on it and share it. As the question was originally posed in a public forum (see link above), I have responded within that forum. Digressing slightly (as is my wont), those readers who have migrated to ScribblingsfromSeaham from WitteringsfromWitney may have noticed that my blogging output has decreased somewhat. As in a marriage or group, when one is informed that one is not wanted, is it any wonder that interest in the relationship decreases considerably; especially when it is realised that the marriage or group in question only came into existence though ones own initiative.

Anyways, to revert to the heading of this article, when we look at opinion polls on voting intentions – be that local or general elections, or even referenda questions – there is an important element in the findings; the ‘don’t knows’ or ‘undecided’. This group of the electorate cast their vote on what I would suggest is the principle of: ‘WIIFM ‘ – and no, ‘WIIFM’ has nothing to do with a new radio station: ‘WIIFM’ are that section of the electorate who are voting on the principle of ‘what’s in it for me’,

Under representative democracy any member of the ‘undecided’ or ‘swing voter’ electorate will cast their vote based purely on the ‘WIIFM’ principle; and bear in mind that their decision will be informed by what they see and hear in/on the media. When that which is propogated in the media is questionable – to say the least – where fact, ie truth, is concerned means that vote is wasted and such an electoral process becomes a charade. On this point it should be remembered that political parties promise much – and if and when said promise comes to fruition – and those promises invariably turn out to be not that which had been intimated (recall of MPs is a classic example).

‘FlexCit’ as an informative paper is priceless, but the question arises about just how many people, if it were widely available, would read it; or even understand it. It could be said that when the  Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) held their ‘Brexit’ competition, even they did not understand (or, perhaps, did not want to understand) it – otherwise it would surely have won.

Unless I have misunderstood, ‘FlexCit’ is intended to be the basis for securing ‘lead status’ of the ‘No’ campaign when the Electoral Commission opens the bidding process prior to the rerendum. A further comment from he who is apparently ‘in charge’ – or ‘leader’ – of The Harrogate Agenda has appeared on the article linked to previously, in which he states: Our pamphlet made it very clear that THA and EU membership could not go together. As the difference twixt the two is about ‘democracy’ per se, we, of a brain, are only too aware of that fact; however, where the reasons for leaving the EU and adopting The Harrogate Agenda are concerned, the two subjects are entwined. As stated previously, there is little to be gained by reclaiming powers we have ceded to one set of unelected ‘dictators’, only to hand them to another set of ‘dictators’; albeit elected through ignorance.

Readers of WitteringsfromWitney who have traversed to this blog will know that my original view in the initiative I took was that the views of the ‘Outers’ were too diverse and presented, to the electorate, a fragmented message. Conversely, it has to be said, there are still those within the ‘Outers’ who believe their ‘message’ is the only ‘true way’ and brook no dissent; which is hardly conducive to presenting a ‘united front’ to the ‘Inners’ – maybe, as I have previousy suggested, a few heads need to be ‘banged together’?

Currently, where arguments for ‘Out’ are concerned they have become ‘confusing’ and that there is need for a ‘fresh look’ as to what might just be the catalyst to bring the ‘WIIFM’ into the ‘No’ camp; namely The Harrogate Agenda – or if we are seeking a sub title for that movement: Great Expectations? The point about WIIFM is that if it is the deciding factor in voting intentions, then why is the only means whereby WIIFM can be achieved only stage six of FlexCit?

When considering the ‘mixed messages’ that the electorate is being offered by the ‘Outers’, it is perhaps pertinent to end this article with another quotation:

Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.
Sylvia Plath


Circles in a spiral, wheels within a wheel

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel
The Windmills Of Your Mind – Alan Bergman, Michel Jean Legrand

Richard North writes about the ‘sharp practice’ (although I would have used a stronger phrase) of Andrew Lilico and Matthew Sinclair when they pass comment on David Cameron’s renegotiation of this country’s memberhip of the European Union.

What we witness with Lilico and Sinclair is no different to that witnessed in the utterings of any europhile; namely blatant misrepresentation of the subject matter exemplified by a complete (deliberate?) lack of knowledge. The article to which Richard North links amounts to another, not very subtle, attempt to influence the outcome of the impending referendum on EU membership.

Articles such as those produced by Lilico and Sinclair can only add to the fears of those who worry that the forthcoming referendum will be anything but free and fair – but those concerns are negated surely when one remembers that the process will be under the watchful eye of the ‘independent’ Electoral Commission? 

The Electoral Commissioners are appointed by the Speaker’s Committee, or to give it its full title: the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission. The Speaker is elected by Parliament, the majority of whom can be said to be of europhile tendency. The Speaker’s Committee comprises four ex-officio members (currently one membership is vacant and is to be appointed by David Cameron) with the other five members being appointed by the Speaker. As will be seen, if one looks at their voting record under ‘Foreign Policy and Defence’ on ‘They work for you, the first two generally voted for more EU legislation and the remaining three generally voted both for and against more EU legislation.

If we then look at the present commission we find all but one (Gareth Halliwell) have been part of the ‘system’ (the Westminster Bubble), ie been MPs or held ‘government appointments’. likewise, in some cases, the Executive Team. Yet from Wikipedia we learn that the Electoral Commmission is ‘independent’ of Government and answerable to Parliament. Really?

Circles in a spiral and wheels within a wheel?

As part of that process said Commission will be inviting bids from interested parties who wish to be the ‘lead’ campaign group for both sides of the question: do we wish to remain a member of the European Union. Understandably, logic raises the question of just how can those with ‘set views’ deliver an impartial verdict, one no doubt at variance with their core political beliefs. It follows then that any bid which effectively wishes to ‘rip up’ accepted thinking and change the entire method of trading with the EU; plus, as part of its ‘plan’, introduce a new form of democracy, which would return power to the people, must stand as much chance of success as that of the proverbial snowball surviving in hell.

In conclusion, ‘We’ who comprise true eurosceptics expect to be ‘stitched up’ by government and their acolytes; but to be stitched up by those we thought was one of ‘Us’ is a bitter pill to swallow.

A free and fair referendum? Not in this world!


Hang on, When spake the Electoral Commission?

Open Europe state, in today’s press summary, that: The Sunday Times reported that the EU referendum ‘No’ campaign is in talks with at least eight cabinet ministers about joining the call for withdrawal. Leaked documents show that the campaign’s chief executive will be Matthew Elliott, the founder of the Business for Britain group. The director of operations will be Victoria Woodcock, Michael Gove’s former private secretary, while Georgiana Bristol, a fundraiser for Boris Johnson’s 2008 London mayoral campaign, will be development director.

Jumping the gun a tad, aren’t they – especially when the Electoral Commission have yet to open bids for either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaigns.

In any event just how can someone who’s stated aim is that if all of David Cameron’s wish list are satisfactorily renegotiated to his [Elliott’s] satisfaction, he would wish the UK to remain an EU member then head the official [Electoral Commission approved] ‘No’ campaign?

As with so many of those on either side of the EU membership debate it can be said that the ‘ego has definitely landed’ – especially where Matthew Elliott is concerned.