Perhaps it began later, after your visit Kev. On the other hand it might only have happened to a few people and, as usual, the press are making a mountain out of a molehill. If they demand a non-EU entry fee from Bruff I'd like to be a fly on the wall!
The Electoral Reform Society has published a report analysing the way the EU referendum was handled and giving recommendations on how to improve our referendums in the future. The report is titled ‘It’s Good to Talk: Doing Referendums Differently After the EU Vote’.
This is from their web site:
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“This report shows without a shadow of a doubt just how dire the EU referendum debate really was. There were glaring democratic deficiencies in the run-up to the vote, with the public feeling totally ill-informed. Both sides were viewed as highly negative by voters, while the top-down, personality-based nature of the debate failed to address major policies and issues, leaving the public in the dark.
“It offered a stark contrast to the vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation of the Scottish independence vote – a referendum that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life.
“From a campaign period that was too short to foster a decent debate, to the fact that misleading claims could be made with total impunity, there are so many lessons to be learned – and this report lays out both the facts and the way forward.
“Now that the dust is starting to settle after the EU referendum, we need a complete rethink about the role of referendums in the UK. They are becoming more common, but the piecemeal nature of the how, when and why they’re done means we could simply end up jumping from referendum to referendum at the whim of politicians.
“It’s time for a root and branch review of referendums, learning the lessons of the EU campaign to make sure the mistakes that were made in terms of regulation, tone and conduct are never repeated. Let’s make sure that future referendums guarantee the lively and well-informed discussion that voters deserve."
The full recommendations are:
Laying the groundwork
Mandatory pre-legislative scrutiny for any Bill on a referendum, lasting at least three months, with citizens’ involvement
A minimum six-month regulated campaigning period to ensure time for a proper public discussion
A definitive ‘rulebook’ to be published, setting out technical aspects of the vote, as soon as possible after the passing of any referendum Bill
A ‘minimum data set’ or impartial information guide to be published at the start of the regulated campaigning period
An official body should be given the task of intervening when misleading claims are made by the campaigns
Citizenship education to be extended in schools alongside UK-wide extension of votes at 16
The government should fund a resource for stimulating deliberative discussion and debate about the referendum
An official body should be tasked with providing a toolkit for members of the public to host their own debates and deliberative events on the referendum
Ofcom should conduct a review into an appropriate role for broadcasters to play in referendums, with the aim of making coverage and formats more deliberative rather than combative
The Society's press release states:
Launching their landmark EU referendum report into the conduct of the referendum, ‘It’s Good to Talk: Doing Referendums Differently After the EU Vote’, the Society have called for a ‘root and branch review’ of the role and conduct of referendums in our democracy.
As part of the report, the ERS has published polling showing that far too many people felt they were ill-informed about the vote; and that the ‘big beast’ personalities did not appear to engage or convince voters. The polling also shows that voters viewed both sides as increasingly negative as the campaign wore on.
The Society are arguing that the EU debate was in stark contrast to the Scottish independence referendum, which featured a ‘vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life’.
A review is now needed to ensure future referendums don’t repeat the errors of the EU vote in terms of failing to foster a genuine, informed discussion among the public, the ERS says.
The report makes nine key recommendations to improve the conduct of future referendums [see note 1]. These include:
Tasking an official public body to intervene when misleading claims are made by the campaigns
Ofcom to conduct a review into an appropriate role for broadcasters to play in referendums
Early publication of a definitive rule-book to govern campaign conduct, followed by a minimum six-month regulated campaign period
Extending votes at 16 UK-wide, following its ‘huge success’ in energising the Scottish referendum
A robust role for the public at every phase - from a citizens’ panel tasked with pre-legislative scrutiny of any referendum bill, through to publicly-funded resources to stimulate citizen-led debates and deliberation across the UK
The web site is here: Electoral Society