Monday 9 July 2018

The Wisdom of David Davis

In light of the Brexit Secretary's resignation this evening here are his sage words about referendums.

There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool. The Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, who is no longer in the Chamber, said that Clement Attlee—who is, I think, one of the Deputy Prime Minister's heroes—famously described the referendum as the device of demagogues and dictators. We may not always go as far as he did, but what is certain is that pre-legislative referendums of the type the Deputy Prime Minister is proposing are the worst type of all.

Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting. So legislation should be debated by Members of Parliament on the Floor of the House, and then put to the electorate for the voters to judge.

We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it. 

House of Commons Debates (Hansard), 26 November 2002, column 201

I'm guessing he now knows what he is getting and is voting no. What about the rest of us?

Sunday 8 July 2018

The Fall and Rise of Wendy Milne: Labour PPC for Linlithgow and East Falkirk

It has just been announced via Twitter that Wendy Milne has been selected as the new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in my old stomping ground of Linlithgow and East Falkirk.

Voters who had the chance to vote for me in 2005 and 2010 or have moved there or turned 18 since then might like to know the background of their new Labour candidate.

In 1990 Wendy Milne was one of those purged from the Labour party as part of Kinnock clearing out Militant.

In 2001 she went on to stand as the Scottish Socialist candidate in Livingston against Robin Cook claiming he was too "right wing" for the people of Livingston. Only 1,110 people agreed with her, 19,108 returned Robin as their MP for what was to be his last full term.

We live in interesting times if in the other half of West Lothian and parts of Falkirk Wendy is now back in the bosom of the Labour Party as their officially recognised candidate.