Friday 19 January 2018

I vote we have one more referendum - on abolishing all future referendums

Eamon de Valera
Eamon de Valera
John Downing

John Downing

Let's start with all cards face up on the table. I'm not a fan of referendums. I think even smart people's failure to get the plural of the word right is, in a curious way, a clue as to how ropey the process itself really is. But that sidebar row is for another day.

The big problem with referendums is that they are generally a very suspect form of democracy. At best you ask one question - and often enough end up with an answer to a series of very different questions.

That frequently comes after a tiresome number of leaden debates on radio and television characterised by people saying: "Ah, now that is a very different point entirely." Accusations of confusing arguments, not to mention crazy admixtures of metaphors, usually abound. The punters struggle to contain their bewildered indifference.

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