Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stealing the agenda

Driving around Dorset today, through the little village of East Stoke near Wareham I was somewhat surprised to find a notice calling residents to vote in 'The Referendum on the EU Constitution'. When you think you have some sort of handle on what's going on in politics it comes as a surprise. I asked in the village shop, finding a local parishioner I discovered that local members of UKIP have exercised their right to force a local parish referendum if 10 or more local parishioners vote in favour. 18 attended and sufficient voted in favour!

This has been done not because it will have a profound effect on government policy, particularly as the question is not on accepting the constitution but: "Do you want a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty?". The point is to put the issue on the agenda and rally support. It seems to have worked, to an extent. One has to say the timing is wrong however. If they had done this to coincide with a speech on Europe then maybe, but it only made the local BBC News and was ignored by the evening bulletins, but there are a wealth of references on a Google search. But if every parish in the country followed suit...
Turnout in the referendum was 80, out of 350 potential voters; the result was 90% in favour of a further referendum. Not really democracy at work, but as many local councillors, MEPs and mayors cannot gain a similar level of percentage turnout or support it cannot be condemned too much.

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