Whenever there is discussion about Britain’s place in Europe there is one argument that always gets trotted out in favour of a referendum; that most of us never got a chance to vote last time round because we were too young or not even born. By that logic we should have a referendum on EU membership every 40 or so years for ever and ever.
If we let that factor determine that we should have a referendum on EU membership then we are long overdue another referendum on whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK and then how about the Welsh and Scottish devolution bills? In about 25 years we could then argue for a referendum on doing away with the London mayor and go back to the GLC.
Personally I would be much more interested in a referendum or two about things we have never been asked about at all, ever, like having an elected second chamber or getting the monarchy totally removed from government.
Or is it that the Farages and Henry Smiths are only really interested in going to the public on certain topics that they think the public will agree with them on? Not that they should take the result for granted. I also wonder whether, if we had an in-out referendum and voted to stay in Europe would UKIP then accept the public opinion and shut up about it?
Another thought I had today about the public will is about the Falklands. Agentina have been stirring things up a bit lately and talking about some sort of international arbitration on the legal status of the islands. Our position seems to be that it doesn’t matter what the legal ownership should be but it is all up to the what the residents want. There may be good arguments on either side, but surely this isn’t one of them.
Look at it this way. Dale Farm had more than a third of the population of the Falklands at its peak. Should we have just said that it doesn’t matter what the law is, but we should go by the wishes of the residents? Exactly what is the cut-off in size or population for that to happen?