The words of the Electoral Reform Society in a report published today. The report criticises not just the scope of the referendum but also its implementation. When David Cameron announced the referendum and its scope four matters caused me to be anxious:-
- His preposterous decision to gamble our future at all to appease troublesome would-be UKIP MP’s (including possibly my own who co-directed a Limited Company with Nigel Farage in the run-up to the referendum);
- The bizarre announcement that unlike the Scottish Referendum 16 and 17 year olds would not get to vote;
- The equally strange decision to exclude EU citizens who had lived here for sometimes many, many years and likewise to deny the vote to certain ex-pats;
- The timescale from the announcement to the polling day which appeared to me to be rushed at best.
As time went on other issues caused me further concern:-
- The sending out of the HM Government advisory leaflet almost immediately after the announcement. Most of these would have ended up forgotten or binned long, long before the vote;
- George Osborne’s attempts to place financial figures on the economic consequences, culminating in an ill-advised announcement that he would call a punitive budget if we were stupid enough not to heed his warnings;
- Jeremy Corbyn, or rather the lack of him;
- The Leave lies which were having a positive effect on their campaign, as was their “Project Fear” scare myth and the failure of mainstream media to expose the lies to non-politicised audiences; this combined with the vitriolic rhetoric evident at the BBC’s Great Debate I attended caused me to leave fearing the outcome. When I gave a brief interview to a Swiss TV reporter outside she commented on the emotional nature of it – I was evidently a worried man.
However, as I leafleted I always used to look at the Remain literature to satisfy myself of its contents. Yes, it was full of crystal ball gazing but the comments and quotations were genuine, unlike the £350 million lie so readily conceded by Nigel Farage on live TV the morning after the vote. The ERS report has vindicated my right to feel concerned before the campaign began which I have detailed above. Consequently whilst I am happy at the findings of the ERS in highlighting the farce of this insult to the democratic parliamentary process I am a little disappointed that it has not really “gone to town” against Leave.
In my work as a lawyer you learn to put your client’s best case forward. There are, however, clear lines of demarcation. Future gazing will always be slanted by your own mind but peddling blatant claims which are demonstrably incorrect (£350 million a week?) stands deserving of a particularly uncompromising judgement and outcome. I know that is what would happen if I misled a Court, or, for that matter, an opponent.