history_monk: (Me)
I've been to vote. I'm not very well, but the polling station is only 50 yards away. The polling station staff described voting as "lively."

The question is what happens next. If the vote is "leave", then the Tories who backed that cause will want to displace Cameron, to avoid compromise and back-sliding. If it is "remain" they will probably want to leave him in power, so that he can be blamed for everything that happens which they don't like.

So if it's "leave", there will be a vote of confidence in the Commons, probably next week. That leaves Labour with a significant problem: keep a right-wing Tory government in power, abstain and risk a collapse of the government, or bring it down for sure? If the government collapses, there will probably be a general election, since I doubt anyone else can win a vote of confidence. The Leave camp might welcome this, since they might well feel that momentum is with them.

Interesting times.
history_monk: (Me)
Even if Scotland votes for independence, and manages to keep the pound, there's another problem facing its choice of currency.

There is a risk that the rest of the UK will decide to leave the EU, thus leaving the independent Scotland using a currency that is controlled by a non-EU state. It's hard to believe that this will be a practical proposition, and harder still to believe that the EU will stand for it.

English and Scottish politicians haven't mentioned this issue so far. They may be trying to consider the Scottish and EU referendums as separate matters. But don't worry, I'm sure the European Central Bank is considering it.
history_monk: (Default)
I gave the Yes campaign in the recent UK referendum on voting reform some financial support. I meant to volunteer too, but Life got in the way, plus I'm pretty poor at the things they wanted volunteers for, like working in phone banks. But I was involved enough that yesterday I got an e-mail asking me for my comments on the campaign. Since I don't watch TV, my experience was probably unrepresentative. Anyway, here's what I sent them back:

The Yes campaign was rather easily drowned out by small-c conservative forces, both from the Conservatives and the conservative wing of Labour. It's very notable that the only areas to vote Yes were ones where "it's too complicated for you" is taken as an insult.
 
I suspect that the principal weakness was that people working on the campaign were all used to the ideas of electoral reform, and could not enunciate the basic reasons for it properly. Paying a mercenary public relations consultancy to come up with a campaign design would probably have worked better.
 
There is a case to be made that the Liberal Democrats went too deeply into government, and trusted the Conservatives too much. "Too much", in a case like this, is slightly less than "at all". They were thus entangled in political problems, and too much "inside" unpopular policy to campaign as outsiders offering a real alternative.
 
But the battle as it was fought made one thing very clear: many of the UK's powerful vested interests feel that any change to the electoral system will threaten them. This is likely true; they have invested a lot of effort over many years in optimising their control of power under the current arrangements. And since they sincerely believe that their interests are identical with those of the state and the people (if they didn't, they couldn't sleep at night), I fear that we may have to await them messing things up substantially worse before popular opinion can change things dramatically. Because that's what it seems likely to take. 
 

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