QuakerPete, you've made a hell of a lot of detailed points and it would be impossible to follow my post if I quoted and replied to every single one, so I'll write all my counter points below.
On the issue of the Electoral Commission, it is inherently pro-remain. Four out of 10 of its commissioners, including its chair, have made some form of public pro-remain comment since the referendum (with three coming while they were in post with the EC). Sir John Holmes, the chair, in a public speech said he regretted the referendum result, while Sir David Howarth has publicly criticised pro-Brexit figures and arguments (Howarth is no longer an EC Commissioner).
While I'm sure everyone would agree they are entitled to their view, if you work for a supposedly impartial EC, you're obliged not to do or say anything in public that undermines the integrity of the body. These commission members haven't done so, which suggests to me they cannot be impartial on Brexit, and should no longer be in position. Therefore, any judgements they make are tarnished by their anti-Brexit stance.
On the issue of campaign spending laws, you claim several pro-leave groups flouted said laws and therefore this makes the referendum illegitimate. Curiously, you've ignored that pro-Remain groups, including the Lib Dems, have been fined for overspending too (although interestingly the punishments issued are much less severe from the EC - leaving the EC open to accusations of leniency on the part of pro-remain groups). All sides cheated in the referendum, so your decision to focus only on the Leave side demonstrates you have no interest in fairness.
You’ve jumped from the commissioners have said something to just short of accusing them of operating fraudulently. Let’s see what both the Metropolitan Police and National Crime Agency investigations come up with.
Re: The Lib Dems – You’re wrong! They didn’t overspend, they were fined £19,000 (nearly the maximum available to the Commission) for Reporting (ie, administration) errors and omissions. In other words, back office errors, just as have other groups from both Leave and Remain. These errors are not in the same league as overspends, where these can be considered criminal and illegal actions, hence the Metropolitan Police investigation.
But in the meantime, you might want to read about the actions (or lack of) by Darren Grimes (BeLeave) and Vote Leave. Here’s the Commission’s report:https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ ... ritain.pdf
And here’s an article setting out the report:https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... vote-leave
And here are some quotes from the Electoral Commission's Bob Posner about how Vote Leave obstructed their enquiries into their spending:
Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said:
“The Electoral Commission has followed the evidence and conducted a thorough investigation into spending and campaigning carried out by Vote Leave and BeLeave. We found substantial evidence that the two groups worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits. These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by Parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums. Our findings relate primarily to the organisation which put itself forward as fit to be the designated campaigner for the ‘leave’ outcome.”
Commenting on the investigation itself, Bob Posner continued:
“Vote Leave has resisted our investigation from the start, including contesting our right as the statutory regulator to open the investigation. It has refused to cooperate, refused our requests to put forward a representative for interview, and forced us to use our legal powers to compel it to provide evidence. Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial, and can now be seen in our report.”
To me, the election spending laws are completely archaic and not fit for purpose. They do not for instance track social media spending, which is where much campaigning is done these days. And what of the £9m pro-EU propaganda drop, carried out by Government (which was actively campaigning to remain)? It doesn't appear in EC spending limits because it happened a couple of days before the regulated period kicked in.
But for context, Vote Leave, the officially designated body of Leave, had a spending limit of £7m. If the Government can issue a £9m leaflet drop, which is £2m more than Vote Leave was allowed to spend, it shows the disparity in resources between the two sides. It's also why your complaint about overspending potentially affecting the result cannot possibly ring true. Were people unduly influenced by a £500,000 overspend, when the Government in just one leaflet drop spent 18 times that amount? And that ignores the other pro-EU material and campaigning issued by the Government before the regulated period. The whole system is archaic.
You may or may not have a point about election spending laws, but until someone changes them all parties have to abide by them to make elections free, fair and transparent.
You've asked how the EU is unaccountable. You're an intelligent man QuakerPete who is fully versed with pro and anti-EU arguments. You know fine well the arguments about a lack of accountability within the EU, so I'm not going to repeat them. There are obvious problems with your domestic comparisons as well, because neither the Monarch, the UK civil service or the House of Lords proposes legislation or policies that directly affect UK citizens (well the House of Lords does to an extent, but not as much as the Commons. And I think the Lords should be elected anyway). The EU Commission does propose legislation which affects hundreds of millions of lives, but doesn't face any form of direct democracy.
If you can’t or won’t specify how you believe the EU is unaccountable, you can hardly ask me to do it for you. If you don’t understand how the EU Commission, EU Parliament and EU Council work together it would be much easier just to say you don’t want anything to do with the EU. I just wanted to hear what your thoughts were, that’s all
You've said that denying another referendum is "suppressing democracy". No it is not - if anything, holding another referendum would be the undemocratic move, because there's no evidence a majority of people want it. There's a great article from Matt Singh, who's an exceptional polling analyst, where he in essence says there's not been any shift in attitudes towards Brexit: Link removed due to exceeding maximum number.
And this from John Curtice again shows a lack of support for any additional referendum: Link removed due to exceeding maximum number.
No evidence people want another referendum. No evidence people have changed their mind on Brexit. And as I've said before, why is it the only people who want another referendum are the people who lost in June 2016?
This poll from Survation was discussed on a C4 programme last night, with John Curtice (you mentioned him above) in attendance explaining the results. Over 20,000 sample size, which is 4 times the requirement for a national survey but was done to include a full survey of all constituencies. 105 of which have now switched to remain, giving overall 54%-46% in favour of Remain.https://www.channel4.com/news/major-new ... rds-remain
This is further evidence of Poll of Polls since the June 2016 referendum where, for the last year, Remain has been consistently ahead.
(just add https:/ to the front of the above url)
This poll by YouGov is from a few days ago which shows every Labour constituency has a majority for Remain - 26,000 sample. Backed up on a Sky TV interview with the top pollster Peter Kellner, who said the polling method was the same which so accurately predicted the 2017 election:
(just add http:/ to the front of the above url)
People have changed their minds and it’s happening more and more.
“Countries that cannot change their minds cease to be democracies” – David Davis (the 4-hour Brexit ex-Brexit Secretary).
On your points about overbearing laws, I don't need to point out specific laws, because the general principle is that EU law takes precedence over domestic law. That is a fact. So when you say "The UK isn’t ruled by the EU" - it's nonsense because in a lot of instances it is. And this is why so many people voted Leave - because they want Britain to have complete control over its laws.
Again, you’re short on evidence (which is strange because it has become a mantra for you on Uncovered when discussing subjects) so you’ve reverted to the “all EU laws” route.
As I’ve previously pointed out, the UK has been a willing and a dominant partner in framing EU legislation under a succession of governments, winning 95% of votes and losing only 2% (other 3% abstentions – 1999 to 2016). Therefore, these laws are not somehow imposed on us. When a vote is concluded, it is woven into national law in various ways, sometimes requiring legislation or amendment to existing legislation. Why is there always a “them and us” scenario for Leavers?
Let's take the issue of immigration, which was a key part of the referendum. When it comes to migration from the EU, sovereign nations cannot possibly have any control because of the Freedom of Movement principle. You say the UK can remove EU migrants who are without a job or means of supporting themselves which comes from this directive: Link removed due to exceeding maximum number.
There are problems with this. A) The Government would have to prove the citizen doesn't have a job, or a prospect of getting a job. B) The process is more complicated if a citizen has moved with family members (they can't just be separated). C) The citizen, rightly, can appeal if they believe the expulsion isn't justified. So all of a sudden, this process becomes messy, lengthy and expensive.
However it also entirely misses the point. Rather than having unchecked EU migration and correcting it later, it much better to have total control of your borders. It largely prevents the problems of the current system. That's not to say there should be no immigration. Done properly, immigration enriches and benefits Britain. But unchecked immigration is not a sensible way of doing things.
Moreover the principle affects different countries in different ways. Britain is, geographically, a small island nation. The policy will affect Britain differently to a large nation on the continent like Germany. Same for a smaller central European country like Hungary and a large Mediterranean nation like Spain. You can't have one size fits all policies for 28 very different countries and economies.
So we’re agreed there is a mechanism for controlling Free Movement into the UK from the EU, you just don’t like it. That system works elsewhere.
Finally, while most of your points are well-thought through and reasonable, this one is not:
"Democracy doesn’t stop, it’s a process not an event. We’ve had a further election in 2017 and those politicians bailed out immediately after the vote. The previous election was only in 2015 – which is less time between the referendum and now.“Countries which cannot change their minds cease to be democracies” – David Davis (ex-Brexit Secretary).
You've compared the referendum to a General Election. But the difference is we as a country are obliged to have a General Election regularly. Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, this is every five years, but can be earlier under the terms of the act.
You can't seriously be suggesting we hold a referendum every few years on EU membership? If you want another one, then you must accept any demands from Leavers to hold one after that, if the result doesn't go their way. Holding a referendum every couple of years is madness. We were told the Government would implement the result (so it was binding politically - claiming it was advisory is straw-clutching), and that the referendum would be once in a generation. The Government can't then go back on that, without suppressing democracy itself
I compared only the timescales of the 2015 and 2017 elections, against the 30 months since the Referendum vote. The amount of information gleaned in that time on the prospects of staying and leaving is huge, compared to what we originally heard – everyone should have the chance to confirm they’re happy or not with final deal / no deal / or neither and remain instead.
Cameron made huge mistakes in agreeing to a referendum in the first place (in an attempt to save the Tory party from implosion - good job so far, eh!) and then saying he would abide by it - as this second part had no legal basis. And good luck on the time scale of a generation before the EU is considered again (if we leave) - no political party or our governmental system can be tied by that otherwise we'd be having laws set by one party which couldn't be unpicked by another due to some arbitrary timescale of a long-dead former prime minister.
I’m sure, after all this shit-show is finalised that there won’t be another referendum in a long time, though it's your democratic right to seek one within the laws of our country.
However, as I said previously to “theoriginalfatcat”, there is something more fundamental to consider and I make no apology in repeating it here:
But all of this pales into insignificance due to the number of investigations underway into referendum overspends, money sources, etc. These investigations are being carried out by the Metropolitan Police, National Crime Agency, Financial Conduct Authority and the Serious Fraud Office. How any true democrat, Leave or Remain, can consider Brexit proceeding without these being concluded first baffles me.