May. 31st, 2016 10:43 am
radiantsoul: (Default)
[personal profile] radiantsoul
The UK seemed to go for a long time without referendum. The rule seemed to be you elect some folk who you hope are wiser than you and they make decision for you. They were able to survey the facts, decisions were played out over a long period of time and discussed at great lengths. Education and access to information was much more limited so it was not totally absurd to assume they knew more about education, public health, or German-Danish relations than you. Very periodically you get decide whether to keep your representative or not, but only they can vote the whole lot of them out. It was hard to sack them because you simply disagreed with them on a single issue.

It seems that we are moving towards a system whereby we are going to have referendums. There was one on Europe before I was born, and one on Scottish independence. But we had a few on devolutions in the 1990s, alternative voting systems and more devolutions in the 2010s and the soon to happen EU Referendum.

I suppose the hope is that referendum support a sort of groundswell of learning and debate. In reality it seems that both sides have learned that voters are primarily motivated by fear of loss, and that most people are interested in one or two issues and scare stories are devised around these issues - neither side pays much attention to the truth. There probably are some moderate voices on both sides, but they do get drowned out by the nonsense and gobshites.

I think it is worst on social media, you see a lot of things posted that are obviously discredited or false - amounts transferred to europe or the precise relation of the European Court of Human Rights to the EU. The irony is the true numbers are facts are probably just as convincing. I am not sure that most people really draw a huge distinction between £380 million per week and £250 million per week.

The problem is that if one side decides to be balanced and try and present the truth they are going to get torn to pieces. So you see a lot of people asking for the facts, which is a bit difficult as no-one knows. A big focus on TV debates where someone has to have won are unlikely to really help matters too much. What you will see is clever turns of phrases or witty put-downs. It is simply not possible to have a debate on the basis of facts.

A lot was made of how the Scottish referendum campaign ignited interest in politics, and I wonder if the debate there was any better. I suspect not as no-one seems too keen to go in for a re-run.

The Conservative party especially are divided in Europe, in the 19th century they would probably have split in two, but modern political parties are too expensive and centralised to make that very likely. Instead there are two groups that don't seem to much like each other locked together, unable to finally decide on issue. Now the old system I mentionned at the top has been turned on its head, and they seem be hoping that the people that elected them are able to make the decision for them. The hope is to settle an issue for "a generation". The problem for our elites is whether they will really accept the argument has been won or lost.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Did you see David Mitchell's piece on referendums in the Guardian this weekend? Very similar thoughts expressed! And I totally agree -- there is clamour here in Canada (from some) for a referendum on changing our voting system (which the new government has promised to do and is now regretting, I think). I'm really not a fan -- I've voted in two and observed a few others, and the debate is never edifying. Never.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-01 10:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I didn't see it. But I think quite a few people see what a dire and tedious state of affairs it is.
I am not sure social media helps, as much of that is often slogan based.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-05-31 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is simply not possible to have a debate on the basis of facts

You raise an interesting idea here. It seems that facts can never just speak for themselves in the face of social change, that when it comes to reasoning about why something is either problematic, good, or soon-to-be, there has to be that follow-up thought, which is certainly shaded by what side of the fence you're on. Politics in general seem more like competition than collaboration to me.


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