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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Asking the people

It is difficult to go into things in any depth when my only access to the internet is via a limited blackberry but I was intriqued by one of the proposals in Chris Huhne's election manifesto published today.

Unfortunately his suggestion that we might want to adopt the Swiss idea of a people's veto on unpopular legislation smacks a bit of finding something radical to say for the sake of it. It is not in my view a Liberal proposal.

I am not somebody who is generally in favour of referendums. We live in a representative democracy in which the quality of our legislation is enhanced by a thorough process of scrutiny and review. It would be impossible to replicate that procedure in any public vote in which the strength of the argument for or against is often dictated by the resources available to either side. Even a retrospective vote could lead to important legislation being subject to a bidding war by well-heeled vested interests in a way that is not possible in a proper Parliamentary process. However if Chris Huhne can come up with a worked up proposal I am prepared to look at it.

What puzzles me the most about this suggestion however is why, given his sudden enthusiasm for the plebiscite, Chris Huhne remains so resolutely opposed to a vote on the European Treaty. It is a position with which I agree but it hardly smacks of consistency on his part.
Chris and Nick are both great candidates for leader. I wonder though whether this, and Nick's more carefully thought out approach to the nuclear issue, shows that Nick is the more instinctive liberal with perhaps the rounder view?
"Nick's more carefully thought out approach to the nuclear issue"...!! Yeah, right! I really wasn't sure who I'd vote for 'til I saw Chris' stance on Trident - at last someone willing to give us a non-sitting on the fence position. Chris to win!
Remembering of course that it is the party membership decides policy on issues like Trident and not the leader. Conference voted on this matter not so long ago. How did Chris Huhne vote in that debate?
And you were doing so well, almost managed the whole week without blogging!!
I think Chris has made a tactical error here actually. He's raised an issue which the party did only resolve recently, and which is emotive, and he's also raised the expectation that, if he wins, we'll go unilateralist.

I like Chris, and he's great on green things, but to me this maybe suggests that it's best he stays looking after them.
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