Saturday, 22 March 2014

Labour's Referendum Promise

Last Saturday I raised the possibility that Labour's promise to use an 'in-out' referendum to try to ratify a new EU Treaty would not be looked upon favourably by the Electoral Commission. With that in mind I wrote to them seeking clarification, and this is the response I received:
Dear TBF

Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission.

If a referendum were called the Commission would comment on the intelligibility of the question. In addition under PPERA we would formally nominate ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ organisations. We would also ensure that the public had information to enable them to make an informed choice.

Unfortunately we cannot comment on the nature of the question, that would be for parliament to decide and frame the question. We would only comment on the wording.

Kind regards

Mark Nyack             
Public Information Officer
The Electoral Commission
To me that answer is unsatisfactory. While Parliament can decide and frame the question, the Electoral Commission has to decide whether the question is unambiguous. To frame the question in such a way that it poses 2 questions in 1 is far from unambiguous and thus comes under the EC's remit. The EC is being deliberately elusive here - therefore I have written back to them seeking further and more specific clarification. Again their response will be posted here.


  1. "we wont comment on the question asked, only the wording used to ask it" does rather make a mockery of it doesnt it.
    Just imagine "do you agree, you would rather be hanged than shot for aggressive tax avoidance?"

    oh no you must ask "The uk is going to use hanging for aggressive tax avoidance, should they use a firing squad instead?"

    then its a fair question

    1. Agreed, it does make a mockery. I'm trying to pin them down on that though I fully appreciate it will be like nailing jelly.