Nine thoughts on the referendum result

A few thoughts on the referendum result.

1. I’m pleased about the result. We’ve saved ourselves a lot of pain.

2. When people think there is a likelihood of real change, they will come out and vote, even if only to prevent it.

3. Some people are making too much of 2. As any manager knows, it’s easy to motivate people when there is a clear and immediate goal. Much of government and party politics is about the tedious day-to-day and the ambiguous long-term. It’s much more difficult to get people excited about that. It is unlikely that general elections will get 86 percent turnouts, no matter how honest and authentic the politicians are.

4. We’ve got all this to come again if there is a referendum on the EU. Most of the arguments about uncertainty and instability apply as much to a UK exit from the EU as they do to a break up of the UK. Some of the people who deployed these arguments against the Yes campaign will be saying the opposite when it comes to leaving the EU.

5. At some point someone (most likely the IFS) will make a stab at working out the cost of ‘the Vow‘ and its implications for the rest of the UK. It won’t be cost neutral. It will probably have to be added to that growing list of unfunded spending commitments in the next parliament.

6. This result raises a whole series of new questions, especially about England. If some powers are to be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they are devolved to England by default, yet England has no representative body. Devolution to England, though, is barely devolution at all. The referendum has led to calls for decentralisation from all corners. From Northumberland to Cornwall, devolution is where it’s at. How this is all going to work is anybody’s guess.

7. Expect more ugliness. I have stayed out of most of the debate because I haven’t had time to do much more than stick out a couple of blog posts. From what I hear, though, both the online and street level arguments got quite nasty. I saw a couple of Twitter attacks on Frances Coppola and Jonathan Portes. When you are losing an argument, make stuff up, claim that people are in the pay of bankers (or whoever is today’s bête noire) and insult their families. We’ll probably see a lot more of this. An English backlash is already being stoked up. The nastiness on all sides will get worse as the election gets closer.

8. Despite everything I’ve said so far, some of this might lead to changes that will make our country better. I’m a devolution sceptic, which is an unfashionable position at the moment, but I’m keeping an open mind. The jolt Westminster has received from the world outside London is no bad thing. Perhaps we could do something radical like relocate the government.

9. I’ve picked a great time to go on holiday. I can go and buy my Euros now.


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2 Responses to Nine thoughts on the referendum result

  1. Sentinel says:

    I wonder if five years from now rUK will have saved ourselves a lot of pain?

    Please consider the fieldwork from the (in)famous YouGov poll that put Yes in the lead. At this highest point for the Yes campaign, it is worth noting that those born in rUK ‘voted’ 70% No and those born outside the UK ‘voted’ 61% No. Their combined ‘votes’ accounted for 18% of the weighted sample of 1268. So is it reasonable to conclude that had these cohorts been excluded then Scotland would have voted Yes?

    If so, then isn’t there a significant risk that a few Scottish Nationalists will pursue the goal of independence on the streets of London? Remember PIRA’s Baltic Exchange bombing alone cost £800m.

  2. On points two and three, not only did people have clear and immediate goals, there were also no non-marginal constituencies – every vote had equal weight. I wonder if some of the no votes came from Tories who had simply given up voting for Westminster elections.

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