Rod Liddle

Whoever invented the referendum deserves a kicking

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

My favourite quote of the year so far comes from the author Fay Weldon. ‘If this were an all-woman society,’ she said, ‘we wouldn’t have television. We’d just have lots of nice cushions.’ Fay was making the point that it’s men who do all the -inventing and most of the work. She has since profusely apologised for this remark and others made during the same ‘off the cuff’ interview — almost certain proof, then, that what she said is largely true.

But only largely, Fay. Without women we might not have discovered either of the unpleasant radioactive elements polonium and radium — both stumbled upon by Marie Curie, who was habituated (unwisely) to carry chunks of them around in her apron pocket. But that’s not all. A woman was responsible for inventing the disposable nappy, apparently, and bizarre though it might seem, the actress Hedy Lamarr devised a complex guidance system for torpedoes, ensuring that the radio signals were not jammed by the Nazis. She also invented a tablet that would make drinks carbonated, and furthermore was quite fit in a certain 1940s kinda way, hair swept back, smouldering expression etc. Helluva girl.

But that’s about it, for women and inventing stuff — so Fay was more right than wrong. I once replied to an online query about why men, rather than women, were usually the derring-do heroes in children’s fiction with the suggestion that this was in order to make the stories seem much more realistic. Children are not easily fooled. All hell broke loose, much as it did with Fay’s comments — the greater the resistance to a statement, the more likely to be true it is.

I am not sure about cushions, though. Women do enjoy sitting on them, for sure. But I suspect that it was a talented homosexual man who invented them. Perhaps especially the profusion of wholly pointless and slightly irritating cushions you find on middle-market hotel beds, alongside a nasty piece of chocolate and a note to the effect that breakfast stops serving at ten.


I do not know who invented the referendum as an instrument of governance, but whoever it was deserves a kicking. Probably the Swiss, who have been using them since the mid-1500s and are also responsible for inventing that other jewel in the crown of post-industrial capitalism, money-laundering. And I would guess almost certainly a Swiss woman, given the mimsy and mistaken premise that referendums are ‘democracy at work’ — when in fact they have generally been used by tyrants, such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, to dubiously legitimise their will. They are also a recourse for weak governments which are either hopelessly divided or do not have a clue what they are supposed to be doing. Tyrants or incompetents. And as often as not, an abrogation of responsibility on the part of the people we pay good money to decide such things.

There was a particularly fatuous referendum in the Netherlands this week, concerning the European Union’s decision to enhance trade links with Ukraine in the wake of Russian aggression in the east and south of the country. Yes, you can imagine how this must have galvanised the Dutch people, as they marched proudly along the edge of dykes and through the tulip fields, past windmills full of little mice with clogs on, in order to register a strong protest for, or against, preferential trade tariffs on the import of Ukrainian beetroot or something.

But thish ish not really about Ukraine, the Dutch Eurosceptic right averred — it ish about throwing a spanner in the works of the European Union, because this trade treaty has been ratified by all 27 states of the EU. Spare us. I can just about see that a referendum that asked: ‘Would you like to pay much less in taxes or would you like to subsidise feckless bone-idle halfwits for the rest of your life?’ might have some purchase in the minds of the electorate, here or in Hilversum. But this devious and arcane issue?

The Dutch had their referendum because of a national stipulation that petitions which gain more than 300,000 names must be put to a plebiscite. This is a recipe for direct rule by the very worst people in the -country — the relentlessly involved, the people who know that they know best, the endlessly clamourous liberal (or leftish) urban middle class, who spend their entire lives whipping up support for one or another piece of virtue–signalling agitprop.

Not a day goes by without my email inbox filling up with fabulously stupid injunctions from organisations such as Change.org or 38 Degrees, insisting that I append my name to a petition right now to encourage the migration here of many more people who wish to blow us to smithereens with suicide belts full of Semtex. They all get upwards of 300,000 names — or half a million names for those who wanted to ban Donald Trump from ever visiting the UK, to take a particularly egregious example. And if there were a plebiscite every time, they would win — because nobody else would bother to turn up at the polling station.

I assume these people have so much time on their hands to indulge in this sort of stuff because they are employed either in the state sector or the third sector, where the working week is congenially shorter than in the private sector. The fact that they know less than nothing is not considered important — this is direct democracy, you cynic! I wonder if it would be slightly fairer to simply use opinion poll findings — so, no more immigration, the return of the death penalty and no gay marriage. Of course the opinion polls are deeply flawed. But not anywhere near as flawed as a plebiscite in which only one tiny tranche of the population is remotely interested.

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Show comments
  • canadianhegemony

    Great job Mr. Liddle beating up on that red herring. Sure it’s now increasingly easy to get petition signatures. You know, with the internets and all.

    But the resulting referendum still has to pass the ballot box by people who have to get out and vote.

    Here’s a newsflash: that little referendum you denigrated obtained 32.2% turnout in the Netherlands and sent a stiff “No” message, as 61.1% rejected the EU-Ukraine pact while just 38.1% voted for it.

    And as to your claim that it’s pathetically easy to get referendums on the ballot, perhaps you have conveniently ignored that this is only the second in the history of the Netherlands.

    The first, incidentally, was rejecting (by nearly identical margin 61.6% to 38.4%) the EU constitution in 2005. It seems this time the will of the people won’t be so easy to ignore. Well done, my Dutch friends!

    As to Mr. Liddle, perhaps his contribution to modern European democracy will be having “lots of nice cushions”.

    • I didn’t notice the Swiss system working too badly for the Swiss either.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      So the Dutch you usually reject are now magically friends…hmm!

      All for Putin, raise your glasses…

      • canadianhegemony

        The “Dutch you usually reject”?? …Whatever on earth are you referring to?

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So you’re saying you’re pro-EU?

          • canadianhegemony

            I favor an independent and self-governing Britain. Are you saying that makes me anti-Dutch?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I can see who you’re standing with. And I see, you reject the right of self-determination for British people outside this single referendum then, since you’re actually supporting those who want to sunder the Union otherwise… so an isolated England, as you want, with zero international treaties…

            (And yes, blaming other EU nations…)

          • canadianhegemony

            Sure, that makes sense. I also favor the Netherlands again becoming a sovereign and self-governing nation. Does that make me anti-British?

            Singapore and Canada are independent self-governing nations. Does that make them anti-Dutch? And anti-British?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, none of them reject all international treaties. And Canada is a member of NAFTA, Singapore was forced into independence and is today a member of ASEAN and APEC, etc. – for that matter, Canada is a member of NATO and Singapore a member of FPDA, so on defense…

          • canadianhegemony

            Yep. Independent self-governing sovereign nations have the ability to enter treaties. I favor the same for Britain.

            So how does that make me anti-Dutch?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, because then they’re no longer fully so. So, you admit you’re 100% against all treaties at all times, right.

            As you refuse to admit the consequences of your views…

          • canadianhegemony

            “So, you admit you’re 100% against all treaties at all times, right.”

            I’m afraid you mischaracterize my views. I’m in favor of a sovereign and independent Britain able to enter into its own treaties, just like any other sovereign and independent nation.

            So how does that make me anti-Dutch?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I simply look at them. You want zero treaties, right, as you refuse to have any as they compromise the independence of any state who has them, I hear you. No treaties, any, ever, your very clearly stated view!

            As you refuse to admit the consequences of your views, over and over. You keep being that sort of hypocrite, when you should not be trying to meddle in foreign countries per your views…

          • canadianhegemony

            “No treaties, any, ever, your very clearly stated view!”

            Nope. Never wrote anything of the kind. Perhaps you have me confused with someone else.

            I favor an independent Britain free to enter into treaties of her own choosing. Just like any other sovereign and independent nation who has chosen not to cede her sovereign rights to the EU.

            Which last I checked was roughly 100 out of 125 nations on this planet.

            I favor return to Britain of sovereign rights ceded to the EU including the supremacy of our judiciary and British law, the right to set our own fiscal and monetary policies, control of our own taxation and budget, control of our own borders and maritime zones, the right to set our own industrial and energy policies, our own immigration policy, and yes– our own foreign treaties.

            So how does that make me anti-Dutch?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you deny your post. As you back an “Independent” Britain, which means no treaties can be entered into, ever, as you claim there are other nations with zero treaties. Nope!

            (Moreover, you back an Independent *England*, in reality)

            Certainly none, and very few nations lack supranational treaties today. America has NAFTA, for example. But magically the EU becomes an issue for you.

            You demand that the basics of international law not apply in the UK – i.e. no right to pay or not to be tortured, things which are enshrined there, I hear you. No treaties which affect fiscal matters, or taxation – so no cooperation on tax evasion, for instance. No treaties which involve movement of people or goods. No treaties which involve pollution, energy… no treaties period, right,

            Your refusal to read my posts goes on as well, as you keep waving that banner of hate…showing that wild hypocrisy…

          • canadianhegemony

            “..you back an “Independent” Britain, which means no treaties can be entered into…”

            On the contrary. Not an accurate definition at all. The ability to enter into her own treaties is the hallmark of an independent nation. Unlike being in the EU.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you say that BlackWhite, as you call for zero treaties, and blame the EU for your far wider fantasies…

            In reality, countries are interdependent, they don’t stand alone, they have treaties. All of them. Even NK.

          • canadianhegemony

            “you call for zero treaties”. Nope. Not me.

            I favor an independent Britain free to enter into treaties of her own choosing. Just like any other sovereign and independent nation who has chosen not to cede her sovereign rights to the EU.

            So how does that make me anti-Dutch?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you lie, and badly, over and over, as you whine on for your zero-treaty utopia, all so you can block out the evil foreigners like the Dutch, but yet you’re willing to meddle there in your view that the English are naturally superior or whatever.

            Fact; Treaties mean compromise. Interdependence.

          • canadianhegemony

            “…as you whine on for your zero-treaty utopia”.

            You make that claim without citation. Care to back that up?

            You have my position precisely backwards. I favor an independent Britain free to enter into treaties of her own choosing. Just like any other sovereign and independent nation who has chosen not to cede her sovereign rights to the EU.

            So how does that make me anti-Dutch?

          • TartanTerrier

            Did UK not have treaties before it entered EEC…..loony boy…

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Mr. Loony Boy, as you call yourself, as you clearly want treaties only with your beloved terrorists…

          • TartanTerrier

            The banner of hate- hate is used by you in about 99% of your 45,000 posts. You obviously have no job, no family and are mad.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “UR LIKE ME”

            No, terror-lover, I’m not like you, as you bigoted hate rolls on. Whine about facts again.

          • TartanTerrier

            Hate whine jew whine hate….etc

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Facts facts facts, yes, Mr. Whiner.

          • TartanTerrier

            You and facts are not even on nodding terms…..jewhate ….grumble….hate…..whine…..whine…..its not fair…etc etc

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I am not so far away all I can do is nod at them in the distance.

            “jewhate ….grumble….hate…..whine…..whine…..its not fair…etc etc”

            Your views, right.

          • Tory Thinker?

            Your own hypocrisy is hilarious. Trolling every view point on here. What an empty life you must lead.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            What a surprise, you support a fellow anti-Jewish…

          • Tory Thinker?

            Oh dear, by accusing of everyone who finds your comments nonsense doesn’t make them anti-jewish – what a very strange remark and deeply offensive to those of us standing up against racism!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Mr. Dear, I don’t share your spamming or collectivism, as you stand up for racism, as you find opposing it strange and deeply offensive… do you spam white supremacy messages too?

          • Tory Thinker?

            Gibberish

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you spam gibberish white supremacy messages. Right, forgot the gibberish, my bad!

          • Tory Thinker?

            Seriously , you should re-read your posts before sending them. They literally make no sense at all and are incoherent. If I was your English teacher, I would need to send you a surcharge for all the red ink I would have to use on marking you up!

            Disgraceful how low our education standards have fallen to allow people like you to finish school without a grasp of the English language. You aren’t an illegal immigrant are you?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you can’t read English, are not an English teacher and whine about Jews like me not speaking your Hatese, as you chant out the old tired slogans of your far right…

          • Tory Thinker?

            gibberish – how funny I don’t think I ever mentioned you being a Jew or even knew that you were one – do you have a persecution complex? If I was part of the Jewish community I would be very disappointed with how you present yourself.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, not thinking and hating people like me – Jews – is your specialty.

            As you claim Jews would hate Jews, because of your…

          • TartanTerrier

            jew hate whine whine jew jew hate me etc etc

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “jew hate”

            Yes, your obsession is showing

          • Tory Thinker?

            Seriously, I am not joking, your posts make no sense at all. I can’t see how they follow mine, what they are trying to say, anything… I have even tried moving words round but no, all I get is gibberish. Please just try to make some sense or even just write a coherent sentence.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yes, you can’t read English, as you “try” anything but more ESOL lessons, as you whine at me…

          • Tory Thinker?

            You are so angry with everyone it stops you writing English. It’s not your fault the system let you down haha

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Keep blaming me for your anger, as you scream English is not English, and blame your fantasies about a “system”, etc.

            Take those ESOL lessons.

          • TartanTerrier

            Screm jew hate whine whine phrrrrt etc

          • TartanTerrier

            jewhate whine jew ….etc

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “jewhate whine jew ….etc”

            Right, and reported for your views as you espouse them here.

  • jennybloggs

    Hedy Lamarr only ‘quite fit, in a 1940’s way’? I think she was classically beautiful in a timeless way.

  • kitten

    “the greater the resistance to a statement, the more likely to be true it is.”

    So if I were to post ‘all men are women beaters’ when the (understandable) backlash happened and I was (rightly) told this was utter nonsense their “resistance” would make my statement “likely to be true”?

    Oh come on Rod, enough of the guff.

    Also, we don’t pay MPs large sums to think for us, we tell them the problems and they’re paid to work out a way of implementing a policy (or removing a troublesome policy) in order to help.

    When we start thinking they’re there to do everything for us we end up sleepwalking into a dictatorship that doesn’t serve us, which appears to be what you’re shilling for.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Except that nearly all men and probably even the majority of women know it’s utter nonsense and that nearly all men and probably even the majority of women know it’s utter nonsense an so that their “resistance” would be futile.

      • kitten

        Maybe a bad analogy but the point is, resistance isn’t proof of a statement.

        An innocent person may vehemently deny a false accusation.

        • Mr B J Mann

          No, it isn’t proof.

          But he isn’t talking about an innocent person vehemently denying a false accusation.

          He is making the factual observation that the more bleedin obviously true a politically incorrect statement is:

          The louder the “liberal” demands for an apology and retraction, and the bigger the sacrifice on the altar of political correctness the high priests of “progressive” orthodoxy demand to appease the gods of their dogma:

          Public humiliation, sacking, social ostracism, destruction of career, police visits, even imprisonment.

          • kitten

            He was using this statement generally, and it doesn’t pan out.

            That is my point.
            That’s not to say I don’t agree with your last two paragraphs.

          • Mr B J Mann

            No, he was using his statement about politically incorrect mis-speaking and the automatic, automaton-like, reaction.

            And it does pan out!

            That is my and his point.

          • kitten

            He was saying women couldn’t have invented anything, not even cushions as a gay man would’ve invented them.

            He has absolutely no evidence to back up his assertion as men and women live amongst each other and always have.

            He’s actually doing exactly what he purports to loathe, attempting to shut down debate by his resistance to any other ideas or suggestions.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So he was following your sort of tactics. Well.

          • kitten

            F#ck off you m1sognist.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I’m not like you, either, Ms. Fragger, as you reply twice to the same post in your raging hate, censor.

            You can pretend all you like, the issue is your Jewhate and you’re proving I’m right by using the same tactics…

          • TartanTerrier

            jewhate ….again…..!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            facts…again…!

          • Tory Thinker?

            Haha facts from you – pure gibberish

          • Leon Wolfeson

            And you spew more gibberish spam, as you admit, at my posts – all you seem to do is spam.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Why so much resistance to any ideas, or even suggestions, of a joke?!

          • kitten

            I was offering another point of view. I generally find Rod Little pretty funny but I believe we should have this referendum, in fact we should’ve have it years ago.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Oh, you mean the law’s been broken and hence someone gets charged, convinced in a court of law
            How awful there’s one law for all.

          • Mr B J Mann

            ..!.,

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, the sofisticated retort, in defense of the lawbreaker. Well.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Soph..!.,sticated!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, the eloquence, the arguments, the amazing ….oh well. Well, nice to know that’s all you have.

  • D J

    I understand the problem and am tempted to quote Churchill on democracy, but do you think Momentum or the Young Conservatives are better?

  • nonuser

    Think you’ll find Marie Curie had a lot of help from hubby in discovering the radioactive stuff.

  • right1_left1

    My comment is of no use to anybody (hehehe) but is almost certainly true.

    The best that Hedy Lamarr could have contributed to a non jammable torpedo would have been as part of a team that developed it.
    A bit like that woman Rosamund (should be Rosalind )somebody who is held to be responsible for profound insights into DNA structure or the other female (Jocelyn somebody)who allegedly discoverd neutron stars.
    She was involved in routine data crunching !

    My somewhat mild opinion is that were it not for sexual pleasure, romantic affection and subsequent problems with population renewal then men would have extirminated women years ago.

    re referenda UK and the Swiss:
    Which nation has more war memorials in every town or village ?

    • greencoat

      Women are to scientific inventions what black people are to Shakespeare’s plays.

  • Terence Wilkinson

    Until recently I would have disagreed with Rod about his disdain towards referenda. Then I lived through the Scottish referendum – a referendum the 1930s would have been proud of. Now not only I do think we should never have a referendum again, I wish we would have fewer elections altogether. Let politicians govern based on opinion polls, since that it what they do anyway, and leave the rest of us in peace.

    • gunnerbear

      I just want full PR and NOTA on the ballot paper…..

  • StormInaDcup

    “…because they are employed either in the state sector or the third sector, where the working week is congenially shorter than in the private sector.”

    Dontcha just love generalisation?

    I work in the enaitchess and rarely fewer than 60hpw. (Cant complain tho’, 37.5 of them are paid!)

    • M P Jones

      Sounds ripe for privatisation ;-).

    • David Simpson

      wot’s the 3rd sector? (sorry, I’m drunk and on holiday, so I have nothing better to do)

    • Jonathan Tedd

      Reduce the risk assessments, tell people to stop cc ing you in emails and use the phone. You’ll be done by 4,30 I promise.

  • Father Todd Unctious

    Yet again Liddle can only express his discontent via “a good kicking”. This oaf resorts to the language of violence and intimidation even more often than Trump.

  • Sonduh

    I wonder how many people in this country knew we had signed up to this trade agreement with Ukraine?
    The Netherlands have a GE next March, that should be interesting. The Dutch Freedom Party has a big lead in the polls.

    • thomas_paine2

      That’s a long time in politics.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      A normal trade arrangement? Well.

      Goes to show who’s for trade and who isn’t.

  • The Dybbuk

    Well If we weren’t having this referendum now what would the zealots on both sides of the, ahem, debate be doing to fill their time? After all with the Telegraph closing down it’s comments and the Guardian well on the way to doing the same, they would have to return to sitting in the few remaining public libraries, complaining about the lack of the free copies of the Daily Mail or Morning Star or clogging up public transport using their free bus passes.

  • Bill Chapman

    We
    did not want this foolish and unnecessary referendum. We vote for politicians to discuss these matters, then come to a conclusion. Referenda are not part of our political tradition.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Indeed. Thatcher and Atlee were both strongly against referendums.

      • WFC

        They also would have known that the plural of the word referendum is, as you say, “referendums”, and not “referenda”.

        Perhaps that knowledge should form part of the qualified ballot that some people here are calling for?

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So dyslexic people are out, along with who else? The 10k cheques to you are a given, I mean, then….

          • WFC

            Well, I have to say that if I am the one appointed to decide who should be allowed to vote – and Rod and others on this thread seem to assume that somebody should have that duty – the ability to write me a cheque for £10k would obviously weigh heavily in my decision as to their competence to vote:-)

  • John Andrews

    Has Rod concluded that ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ should perish from this earth? Abe Lincoln wouldn’t like it.

    • Dr Bock

      Nice straw man argument, take something he never said or intimated and attack that. Presumably Rod is ok with representative parliamentary democracy where we do, in however flawed a way, get to collectively decide, rather than abdicate our responsibility to energised minorities of opinion, many members of which don’t know what the hell’s going on beyond what a Guardian editorial made them feel. It’s almost like, in this respect, he might have a legitimate point.

      • John Andrews

        By implication he criticises the Scottish referendum which had an 80% turn out on a specific issue. This was a much more democratic way of taking a decision than electing a bunch of MPs who promise one set of things and deliver quite different things, as the Tories did on immigration to take but one example.

        • Dr Bock

          Fair point, but surely you’d agree that there is a difference between a referendum that really galvanises public interest, has a high turn out, etc, and one more akin to the type he criticises in the article? Admittedly, a distinction he doesn’t draw.

          • John Andrews

            Yes, I agree, and the current system of petitions for HoC debates makes good provision for the public to air views in a non-binding manner. We need a graduated system with intermediate steps between petitions and binding referendums.

          • Dr Bock

            Not sure what they’d be, beyond petitions, non-binding referenda, and binding referenda. Plus we still have the architecture of representative parliamentary democracy, however diluted by present societal mores and the need for everything to be ‘accessible’.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          And what’s your take on why Ms. Thatcher disagreed with you, strongly, on referendums?

          • WFC

            Would you not acknowledge a difference between a referendum to approve (or not) a measure which falls within the normal competence of a Government/Parliament, from one which is held to approve a change to the existing power or authority of that Parliament (or Government)?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I would point out that under the uncodified British constitution, there *is* no such difference. Parliament is sovereign (excepting a few issues to do with, well the Sovereign) and hence all matters fall under it’s competence.

          • WFC

            And if Parliament wanted to surrender its sovereignty, would that fall under Parliament’s competence?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Parliament cannot bind it’s future actions – that’s the entire point of Parliamentary Sovereignty!

            *Technically* it could revoke, oh, the European Acts tomorrow. Technically. It’s not going to, no, but it has that /power/.

          • WFC
          • Leon Wolfeson

            404.

            http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/ParliamentarySupremacy.aspx

            “Parliamentary sovereignty, also referred to as parliamentary supremacy, is the rule that Parliament has the power to make or unmake any law whatever.”

          • WFC

            And if parliament decided it wanted to give up that power, now and forever?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Basically? It can’t. Because the next Parliament could turn round and say “well the rules say you can’t do that and we’re changing it anyway”. And…they’d have the legal precedent to do so.

          • WFC

            Really?

            So the Scottish or English Parliaments (both of which stand adjourned, sine die, since the Acts of Union) remain capable of reversing that, do they?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            …technically Parliament could undo the Acts of Union.

          • WFC

            The U.K. Parliament?

            Which only came into existence because of the Acts of Union?

            Interesting theory. Surely if the UK Parliament “undid” the Acts of Union, it would cease to exist?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yup. You’ve found a way for it to block reversing itself in future, heh.

            It’s pure theory, of course, since it won’t happen and isn’t the way Scotland would leave the UK in any case if that happens…

          • WFC

            But if Scotland did leave the UK, whatever way it happened, how could the Uk parliament continue to exist?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Hmm? One portion of a country *leaving* does not change the nature of the government of the rest of the country.

            Same way that the Scottish Government of today is a modern construct, established in 1999 – it has no constitutional links (except some purely ceremonial ones it itself has instituted) to the Parliament of the Kingdom of Scotland!

          • WFC

            I agree that the Scottish Parliament of today isn’t the one which (along with the English Parliament) still stands adjourned sine die, but if the Acts of Union are repealed by the Uk Parliament, wouldn’t that resurrect it?

            Although that then leads to the question of whether the UK Parliament is capable of repealing the Acts (by different Parliaments) which created it.

            I suppose the precedent would be that the UK (of Britain and Ireland) Parliament was capable of partially repealing the Acts of Union (with Ireland) which brought it into existence. But it would be an interesting constitutional discussion nonetheless.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            If they repealed the Acts of Union, yes, but that’s not how a Scottish Independence would be handed – like the Scottish Parliament, the new Scotland would legally be a newly formed (successor*) state.

            (* The term’s meaning there is from international law, not common English)

            “Although that then leads to the question of whether the UK Parliament is
            capable of repealing the Acts (by different Parliaments) which created
            it.”

            Right – an interesting, if legally essentially academic, question 🙂

          • WFC

            Yes, you’re probably right about that. They would try to create an independent Scotland without repealing the Acts of Union.

            Which would give rise to a new “academic” question. Would a future UK Parliament be able to repeal the (UK Parliament) Act giving independence to Scotland, even though it no longer had any Scottish members?

  • Richard Lally

    Absolutely Rod.
    It is obvious that the big problem with democracy is that most people are ignorant and stupid.

    • WFC

      As decided by who?

      Who shall decide who is too ignorant and stupid to be allowed to vote? Would you be happy if it was me?

    • gunnerbear

      Everyone is ignorant or stupid in relation to something…. 🙂

  • thomas_paine2

    The EU referendum happening on the 23rd June is an exception – a one off ; the nation is polarised, no doubt. But that’s not the reason the Prime Minister decided on it ; he mistakenly (yes, even David Cameron makes mistakes) believed that UKIP was going to take so many votes in Tory heartlands in the 2010 Election, it could let Labour in. If we lose in June, remember we are in the EU for keeps.

  • M P Jones

    The bane of democracy is universal suffrage – to work well it needs a thoughtful and well-informed electorate.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      And dictatorship works so well.

      • M P Jones

        Well, that is what the current power elite seems to think. You see, I don’t happen to agree. What may work is non-biased education as a counter-weight to the prevailing utilitarian view of humans.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          Or perhaps we could skip that and go with PR – AMS/MMP. Real change, rather than theoretical “non-biased” education.

          • M P Jones

            You find a plethora of election systems through the world, some obviously biased and subject to easy manipulation (like the UK FPTP system), others contra-productive to government stability. PR-AMS/MMP may be a good system assuring both representation and stability. I think it introduces an unnecessary complication requiring voters to cast two votes. The Danish system probably produces similar results with a simpler mechanism.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            There’s a major advantage to AMS/MMP in that it’s a system already used here. Moreover, Corbyn has indicated that he could be brought to support it, meaning there’s a significant chance it could be implemented.

            Denmark’s proportional voting system is a party-list one, without constituencies. The only reason it works is both parties are in broad agreement on the Social Democratic nature of the Nordic Model – when you don’t have that (and we have nothing like it in the UK) you get electoral messes more like Israel or Italy, where unstable coalitions tend to crumble…

            (Also, Corbyn would lead Labour to oppose a system without constituencies)

          • M P Jones

            Nonsense. The Danish system works as I described in another post. It combines the advantages of a constituency system with a national party system.

            As for Corbyn, his intellectual framework is based on last century thinking and political constellations that simply no longer exist. He’s a nice old codger but his opinions are without any relevance in the politics of a post-modern world. He does not grasp any of the prevailing political issues as demonstrated by the fact that Labour, even faced by a government using AK-47s to shoot their feet, makes no progress. Corbyn never moved past 1990 and he is completely irrelevant to modern politics.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Denmark has 10 huge multi-constituency lists and a top-up, and as I said they have critical consensus on many issues. It’s essentially pure party list, as-organized.

            (Heck, the red and blue bloc’s peacefully cede power to each other there, in a multi-party system of working together which would not even occur to parties here!)

            Ah yes, the “last century” concepts of party democracy, workers rights…as you dismiss MMP/AMS on the basis…oh dear. As you say that multi-party democracy is completely irrelevant…right.

            PS, Cameron has lower approval ratings than Corbyn.

          • johnb1945

            Meh… I lived for years under those systems in Europe and the same politicians crop up all of the time, nobody ever gets fired.

            They do something egregious and because the party establishment likes them they get sacked then end up on the next list.

            If we had a system like that we’d still have the Rt. Hon Michael Portillo MP and Ed Balls.

          • M P Jones

            That is a valid point, and one I have often made, myself. The solution is one I have also advocated for many years: a limit to the number of years a representative can sit in Parliament and government. The consideration here is to strike a usable balance between the power of Parliament and that of the administration (a solid written constitution is important in this context). Politicians must have the time to gain sufficient experience and clout to handle the bureaucrats but not enough to become career politicians, something I find very damaging to democracy.

          • johnb1945

            The other problem is that nobody ever gets a proper mandate, or at least rarely.

            Is democracy best served by having one party which is empowered to do things on behalf of its electorate, or by having everyone chipping in, blocking each other and forcing compromises?

            I don’t know.

            In the more centrist countries I live in you ended up with, basically, the same government over and over and over again, although in one PR did provide a route for Joerg Haider to assume office.

            The requirement to coalesce can also be a route in for extreme factions. This is frequently the case in Israel, where Likud has been forced to coalesce with the religious right.

            It is worth considering that under most forms of PR we’d likely now have a Conservative/ UKIP coalition. I think that would be an extremely divisive government – far more so than the Tories by themselves.

            There are advantages to both systems, but overall, having lived under and seen various PR systems up close, I rather like the fact that an election in this country can realistically prompt a real change in direction. It rarely does in a country like Germany.

          • M P Jones

            Having also lived in a number of countries and speaking a good number of the local languages I have also observed various election systems first hand, including voting here and there.

            I think proportional representation tends to bring ‘extreme’ points of view into the open and subject them to debate rather than pushing them more underground. I think that is a good thing, being in favour of as total free speech as practical. It is correct that allowing the ‘wings’ into parliaments occasionally give them influence but rarely much – in democratic systems pendulums allowed to swing too far in one directions are normally brought back fairly promptly. These transitions probably occur more rapidly and with greater force in FPTP systems (tending to be binary) with potential shocks to the economy and other factors, than in PR systems. I do not see that as advantage – changing course rapidly is often costly and boom-bust producing.

            I see a Tory/UKIP alliance as really unlikely, by the way, the two work inside completely different political paradigms, the Tories being philosophically of the past while UKIP is a post-modern party.

          • johnb1945

            I suppose I enjoy the prospect of disruption. I’ve voted for both the major parties in my time. I quite like the swings. I find it gets the creative juices going.

    • WFC

      That’s what Julius and Augustus Caesar thought.

      Trouble is – then and since – that such people end up assuming that the number of “thoughtful and well informed” people in their electorates is 1.

      • M P Jones

        Yes, it is a dilemma. I do not think democracy is a terribly good system – but it is the least bad we know of, giving the frailty of humans in power. Benevolent and enlightened dictatorship may be better and more efficient – but the checks and balances cannot be assured, so we need to live with the inefficiencies and irrationality of democracy for the time being.

        I completely understand why people blinkered by education think they know better, being a scientist by education myself. However, allowing current scientific understanding to lead to diktats and the elimination of personal (often uninformed) choice is wrong. Uninformed technocracy – as e.g. manifest in the neo-fascists EU – is far worse.

        So for the time being we need to come together to defend democracy, oppose globalist corpocracy and bureaucratic technocracy, and allow people to try and succeed or fail on their own merits.

        • WFC

          I don’t even agree that “benevolent and enlightened dictatorship” can be better or more efficient, except in the shortest of short terms which dictatorship did you have in mind?Representative democracies have been seeing off “benevolent and enlightened dictatorships” (and what dictatorship doesn’t consider itself to be “benevolent and enlightened”?) for over 100 years.

          But I certainly agree with the conclusion of your point.

          • M P Jones

            Thanks – well-meaning arrogance underpins many executions.

  • Pip

    But surely, if those elected hadn’t lied to us to become electable – there would be no need for referenda. Pretending to hold a certain view to become electable and then reverting to true form is the person who “deserves a kicking”.

  • Mr B J Mann

    Schpanner, schurely?!

  • Leon Wolfeson

    You’re blaming me for your issues, as you report me for being Jewish, right. Same old hate from you, I see, as you make everything about your frenzied, far right…

    • kitten

      F**k off you neo N@zi.

      • Leon Wolfeson

        I’m not like you, but thanks for confessing to the world.
        Censorship, all you have, along with wild accusations and Jewhate.

        I noted someone using your tactics (edit; although, I note, not your views – i certainly wouldn’t make THAT accusation!) …and you decided to prove it.

        • kitten

          You’re nothing but a nasty neo n@zi troll.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I’m not you, as you show your woman-hate by using the term “c#nt”, well well!
            You are what you decry, censor.

            I’m, of course, a moderate left wing Jew, utterly unlike you and your hard right Jewhate.

          • TartanTerrier

            Hard right jewhate- get a life.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I do, hence what I say. I’m not like you, wanting to take from others!

          • kitten

            “Moderate left wing” what a outright Liar you are, you didn’t even know Corbyn was a socialist; I had to tell you.

            You’re a far right neo n@zi pretending to be Jewish whilst you spew you hate and attack women posters because you’re a nasty misogynistic c#nt.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No, I’m not you, Jewhater, as you make up fantasy accusations. You’re making uo fantasies, as you talk about the Corbyn you revile, in your far right whining.

          • kitten

            F*ck off you fascist neo n@zi women hater.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Why are you talking to yourself? You don’t need the reply button to do that.

            Your bitter hate of leftists like me rolls on.

          • kitten

            You’re a nasty far right women hating lying troll.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “You’re me”.

            No, and your hate rants…

          • kitten

            F*ck off you stalker.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “Don’t reply to me, Jew”

            Right, same hate rants from you, right winger.

          • kitten

            You’re a nasty stalker. Look at you.
            You’re a nasty lying far right nutter. That’s why you harass women online.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah, you assume because I’m a Jew…as you blame me for your fantasies.

            All to try and support kicking people, right, and in service of your attempts to censor all discussion.

          • kitten

            That a coward you are.
            Still stalking me you nutcase.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I’m not woman, but thanks for projecting, Cat-Hater.

          • Sétanta

            What is your fixation with this, obviously female, poster, and why do you persist in harassing and tormenting her everytime she appears online?

            Yours are the actions of a derangered stalker, you pathetic f**king weirdo.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Kitten, your constant spewing hate contibues, as you say a Jew replying is “harrassing and tormenting”, and as you make defamatory broad claims …

            As you say a Jew posting is to be a “derangered stalker”, that Jews are “pathetic f**king weirdo(s)”, etc.

            Same way you’ve ranted against people who happen to be German… your right wing hate rolls on, as you now use an obvious sockpuppet to make the same accusations…

            Your hate of other views, and attempts to suppress other viewpoints rolls on.

          • Sétanta

            You really are a demented, malevolent psychopath.

            Stop bothering women online you twisted loser. Honestly, you’re in need of professional help.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Kitten;

            Your view that Jews are “demented, malevolent psychopath(s)”, as you talk about the laws of your lost Reich…

        • TartanTerrier

          There’s you and this jew hate thing….you really should get help.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            There’s me and the facts, and your far right thugs failed to kill me multiple times…cry harder.

          • Tory Thinker?

            Oh dear more gibberish here too!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “Oh dear more gibberish here too!”

            Yes, spammer, you’ve said, but you keep spewing gibberish spam at me…

          • Tory Thinker?

            gibberish

  • Leon Wolfeson

    “where the working week is congenially shorter than in the private sector”

    Oh, you mean not overworking people as grossly?
    There’s a reason 40 hours is the standard. And why Germany’s high productivity comes in good part from ruthless enforcement of it.

    • newminster

      And exactly where in the public sector is 40 hours standard? 35 is common; 321/2 not uncommon.
      As for those of us who ran our own businesses — 40 hours? In our dreams! And don’t even mention holidays!

      • Leon Wolfeson

        So you don’t have a clue about it… as you admit you’re a problem boss, who hasn’t had even the most basic training…

        • Tory Thinker?

          Gibberish typical left wing tosh – its OK someone else will pay. Let the business owners take all the risk and then force them to give up any benefit from that risk to the workforce…

          • Leon Wolfeson

            No. you’re not a left winger.

            The facts about 40 hour weeks stand.

          • Tory Thinker?

            I always laugh whenever you use the word fact in a post – its an immediate red flag that you are about to lie!! Brilliant and bravo!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You laugh at your fantasies, nonsense spammer? I see. Do the commies also untie your shoelaces?

          • Tory Thinker?

            Gibberish

    • Tory Thinker?

      Utter drivel and rubbish – I presume you have never worked in the private sector or maybe just never worked

      • Leon Wolfeson

        “Utter drivel and rubbish”

        Yes, spammer, your spam is just that, as you get confused and think I’m like you – UCE is of course a crime, not a job.

        • Tory Thinker?

          drivel

        • Tory Thinker?

          Being angry about everything and everyone really isn’t a debating or moral standpoint, it’s a sign of lunacy

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you’re mentally ill? Well, thanks for saying so.

          • Tory Thinker?

            Gibberish – please get some help!

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yes, give me your details and I’ll pass them on to the anti-spam people, np.

          • Tory Thinker?

            You still rabbiting on about something?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you’re a liar and don’t want to help, check.

          • Tory Thinker?

            I really feel sorry for your loneliness. Do you want the number for someone to call? It can’t be good being so angry the whole time. So angry the words you write make no sense. They are incoherent gibberish.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I’m sure you can give the number of a Stormfront thug, as you note your poor English skills and you blame me for your issues and loneliness, nonsense spammer.

          • Tory Thinker?

            I know the truth can hurt but, like being an alcoholic, you need to admit your problem so other people can help you. Don’t worry I will support you on your journey to regaining your self respect.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So you’re in great pain, as you say lying and being in said pain is the only way to “self respect”.

            How odd!

          • Tory Thinker?

            Still more gibberish – after all the kindness I have shown you…

          • Leon Wolfeson

            And there you go, proving you don’t understand the basics of English again.

            Frothing, days-long hate ranting is not “kindness”.

          • Tory Thinker?

            Gibberish

        • Tory Thinker?

          You are not like me, you are a gibberish spewing Jew hating troll. I forgive you though.

          • TartanTerrier

            Leon is jewish- a self-hating jew perhaps…

          • Tory Thinker?

            I think he or she hates everything and everyone – sad when linked to complete irrationality or maybe that is the cause of it…

  • WFC

    Hmmm.

    Even though you are also aware of the word “plebiscite”, you still cannot join the dots in your quest to discover where referendums came from.

    What, do you suppose, do those words have in common? Are they, perhaps, Swiss words – from one of their official languages?

    If not, which language could they possibly have come from?

    • tjamesjones

      I mean, really? BTL on the spectator is somewhat beyond depressing. Literalist halfwits and, I presume, underemployed kippers with nothing but time and grievance on their hands.

      • WFC

        Yes, really.

        Did you have a sensible objection to my comment, or is puerile abuse the most you are capable of?

        • tjamesjones

          rod doesn’t care where referendums come from WFC.

          • WFC

            There you go. A sensible objection to my comment. Was that so difficult?

  • Mhjames

    You write, ‘I assume these people have so much time on their hands to indulge in
    this sort of stuff because they are employed either in the state sector
    or the third sector, where the working week is congenially shorter than
    in the private sector.’

    As a socialist, you presumably want even more people to employed in the state sector and disapprove of the fall in their number since 2010.

  • Father Todd Unctious

    My favourite quote of the year is from Stewart Lee. ” There’s that Rod Liddle with all gravy down him and soup on his elbows. There is Angel delight powder in the folds of his neck…..and a nut on his hand”.

    • Henry Cohn

      “and a kumquat near his foot.”

  • Smedley Butler

    That would be Nigel Farage. I would kick him. Straight into the House of Lords. He’s done more for this country than anybody currently in it.

    • tenbelly

      Nigel would wasted in the House of the Living Dead and rather unhappy as well I suspect.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Test

  • maic

    In the matter of referendums I believe that the Swiss have got it right. I’m a little weary of the patronising comments from some self appointed experts that would have you believe that the peasants (that’s us) are too stupid or indifferent to be able to make rational choices affecting the governance of their country.
    The left in particular seem to regard Direct Democracy with horror. They claim to represent the people, to have the support of the people but shy away from letting the people make some decisions on social and political matters.
    Interestingly enough you hear loud comments on how the country has a really great progressive education system.
    One would have thought that the graduates of such a good system would have the intelligence and judgement to at least have an influence on how the country is governed.
    My own country (New Zealand) has only one House of Representatives purportedly representing the citizens but seemingly more focused on advancing the interests and survival of the major political parties. Deals are done to consolidate power.
    Policies never put to the people are nevertheless imposed on them.
    The cry goes up that many citizens are not interested or engaged in politics and that the level of voting when we do have elections is not that great.
    Well why should anyone be surprised?
    I say it is possible to enact a system of Direct Democracy which makes politicians more accountable and at the same time prevents frivolous attempts to undermine the system.

    • E.I.Cronin

      The utter contempt shown for the results of the Anti-Smacking Referendum was an aberration of democracy and I hope the Greens suffer at the polls for it. I know many Kiwis are ambivalent about CIR as they aren’t binding (am surprised at how many don’t even know they exist!) but the great value of them is the results show opposition parties what the people want and will tailor policy accordingly. Personally I think CIR should only be binding on social policy and economic policy should be entrusted to party policy. But you guys have a great system compared to Aussies. Our elites would rather be waterboarded than give the Australian people the capacity to determine their future. My hope for NZ is that the anti-establishment wave sweeping the Western world boosts new parties like NZF into power.

  • thomas_paine2

    Whoever invented the referendum needs a kicking. They are a recourse for tyrants. Switzerland has several, too many to count but it is the freest and most civilized nation on Earth. No tyrants wilkommen there.

  • putin

    Women inventors (and comedians) are rare for good reason: they don’t have to be ingenious or funny. We find them attractive enough already. As Christopher Hitchens once remarked, most men are incredible ugly and so are forced to invent (and tell jokes) out of genetic necessity. In reproductive terms, young men are also expendable, hence they are used to fight wars. Men only become useful when we have acquired some combination of knowledge, money and power. This is usually when we are older. Women don’t need to do this, they are most useful to society when young. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for them as they age if they neglected to develop any useful skills earlier on in life and the same applies to feckless men as they age.

    • Texas Sunday Morning

      Worth noting Hitchens did make an exception for those who were “dykes, jews or butch”.

  • congreve

    After Scotchit and Brexit, which have given the political classes the fright of their lives, I expect plebiscites to go out of fashion for a hundred years.

    Plebiscitory democracy is radical democracy and vox pleb is not to be trusted. Rule should be by the least thick, not the most.

    Rabble demagogue democracy was first tried in Athens by Ephiates and led in short order to rapacious empire, Periclean dictatorship, devastating war and subjugation by foreign powers for two and a half millenia. Tsipras had a long gestation period. We have been warned.

  • johnb1945

    We will find out when we get burned.

    Brexit might be the place.

    The issue is fundamental to our future and the vote will be so close that I doubt any mandate will be clear.

    Talk about a way to divide up a country.

  • Texas Sunday Morning

    While Rob is rather witty, he does make a factual error at the end. With the exception of those polls carried out on behalf of C4M, the polling consistently showed the public in favour of equal marriage.

    • Neil Saunders

      Not so “equal” where entirely different terms apply, as they do in the UK.

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