In the wake of the recent EU referendum in the UK, it is relevant to point out the following numbers:
Of all registered voters only 72% actually voted..
28% didn’t vote at all for whatever reason
Of those who did vote, 35% voted to remain
36% voted to leave..
This means that 64% of the total voters did not vote to leave the EU
Only 36% voted to leave
This is a worrying situation..
what it means, is that if we are to leave the EU, 34% of the voters will have imposed their will over 64% of the rest
This is hardly a ringing mandate for such a massive change affecting the nation for years to come, and indeed, affecting the entire history of Europe
My suggestion is therefore the following:
A national coalition of parties should come together at a future General Election (to be held as soon as possible), with the manifesto promise to hold a second referendum
Such a coalition would consist of moderate Conservatives (possibly under Teresa May, who would have to win the Conservative Party leadership election), Labour (whether or not under Jeremy Corbyn),Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Northern Ireland Parties who supported Remain, and Plaid Cymry…
If such a coalition won a General Election they would hold a second, binding referendum, only this time, by law, every registered voter would HAVE TO VOTE (of course they can spoil their ballots if they really insist)
We would then get a real and serious sense of whether or not it is truly the majority of the people of the UK who want to leave the EU or not
The group who would oppose this coalition would consist of UKIP, perhaps some right wing or leave supporting conservatives, perhaps some far left parties, some anti EU Greens (under Jenny Jones), Northern Ireland parties who supported leave and so on
I do not think that at present, speaking as a political philosopher, there is any real democratic mandate to take the UK out of the EU.. indeed, it is obvious that 64% of the voters are opposed to this
I also think the voting age for the 2nd referendum should include 16 and 17 year old voters, as it is they who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
Herodotus reports of the ancient Persians that when they had to make a really important decision, they took a first decision when sober, then they took a second decision when intoxicated, and then finally a third decision when sober again, and only if they all tallied, did they do the thing under consideration
I would say that a decision of this magnitude should not be decided against the will of 64% of the voting public..
Wisdom should guide the political will of the democratic decision making, not short term rhetoric, based on misinformation and confusion
As someone who loves Scotland and lives here, and who also loves the UK as a whole, and also Europe, I also note that a large majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU
The advantage of my proposed strategy is that this could take place before any future referendum on Scottish independence might become appropriate
The hidden question we would therefore face at a second referendum on the EU would really be “Do you hate the EU so much that you want to leave it even thought it would probably lead to the break up of the UK ?”
Personally speaking I believe it would be in the long term interests of the UK and its constituent member nations, and for the EU, that the UK as a whole should remain inside the EU and fight to change the things that need changing from within
I would also like to see a more proactive peace policy towards conflict resolution to be adopted by the EU ,for example.
But we cannot campaign for this if we are outside the EU altogether.
At the moment the UK is still inside the EU. Therefore, this is such a critical choice that I think we should reflect on it, and adopt the strategy as outlined above.
Otherwise the UK faces the prospect that its national direction of travel has been hijacked by a minority (36%) against the wishes of the majority (64%) with the result that the UK will break up and we will leave the EU, which itself might also begin to break up.. rather than reform.. not a wise choice, my friends..