Not what it says on the tin

What a year 2016 was politically!

There are three things on which almost all ardent EU Leavers and Remainers probably agree:

 The UK’s relationship with the EU is the most important political issue of the day.
 The debate was far from civilized.
 The referendum was highly divisive and many people were going to be very disappointed whichever way it went.

We live in what’s known as a “representative democracy” in which MPs are supposed to make important decisions for us.

If MPs had taken this decision, the debate would have been far more civilized under the control of the Speaker, lies and exaggerations could have been challenged immediately and the press would have had less influence. Also 650 MPs, unlike the general public, would have had the background knowledge and research support to help them decide.

Moreover a parliamentary debate, unlike a referendum could have been far more flexible. Instead of just choosing between remaining and leaving as the public had to, MPs should have been able to propose, debate, and vote on amendments. They could have considered all shades of opinion, such as whether we should leave the EU but remain in the Single Market or stay in the EU and negotiate for changes.

We pay MPs to take decisions for us, so why couldn’t they take this biggest one of all for us? Elected by First Past The Post (FPTP), they are unrepresentative of us. In other words, our so-called “representative democracy” is not representative. It fails the most basic test. It’s not what it says on the tin.

Had they been elected by any proportionate system, MPs would have been more representative of party support but, unless they had been elected by Single Transferable Vote (STV), they would still have been unrepresentative of the public’s views on EU membership.

MPs elected by STV could have represented not only the parties properly and fairly but also any other groupings that mattered to voters. The UK’s relationship with the EU does matter to many voters. STV’s representation of non-party groupings is explained briefly in and you can click on “Contact us” or “Contact the Editor” if you have any questions.

Would the decision have been different if it had been made by democratically elected MPs? We’ll never know but, even if it had still been to leave the EU, it would have been a more measured decision; it would have taken more account of the many shades of opinion between remaining in the EU as it is and leaving the EU completely including the single market and all the other EU institutions. We believe that whatever the MPs’ decision was, it would have been more acceptable to the losers than any referendum decision could be.

To summarize, MPs elected by STV could have done what MPs are paid to do – take a very difficult decision in an informed manner.

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