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I seek a software or sporting metaphor to explain why a second referendum would be wrong

When discussing Brexit I am often asked, not always disingenuously, “What is so wrong with having another referendum? Is not another vote more democratic by definition? Now that we know more, isn’t a good idea to check if people really do want to leave the European Union?”

I have been trying to think of a metaphor to explain what my objection to a second referendum is. The non-metaphorical explanation is that the government solemnly promised in the pamphlet sent to every household that whatever people voted for in the referendum of 23rd June 2016, “the government will implement what you decide”. A so-called democracy that will not allow certain results is a sham democracy.

(“Buuut,” comes the cry, “we aren’t disallowing any results. We’re just checking.”)

It was the European Union’s habit of ignoring or repeating referendums that gave the “wrong answer” which more than anything else turned me against it. I can truly say that even when it was in its infancy I foresaw that the trick of making a few cosmetic changes then running the referendum again would work devilishly well because it is difficult to describe in one sentence what is wrong with it. One can point out that it only ever seems to work one way: results of which the EU approves never seem to need to be confirmed. But to do that requires that you recite a whole chunk of history about Denmark and Ireland and the difference (clue: there wasn’t one) between the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty. If your interlocutor is young, as a lot of Europhiles are, then this is a lot to take in and a lot to take on trust.

I wish there were a quick, engaging story I could tell to show what I mean. Two possible types of anecdote occur to me, one from the world of sport and one from the world of computers. Being ignorant of both fields, I would like to ask readers if they know of anecdotes or examples from sporting history or computery stuff which would fit the bill.

Computers first: it infuriates me when the efforts of Microsoft or Samsung to get me to adopt their proprietary software seem almost to amount to harassment. I have a Samsung phone. One day this crappy thing called “Samsung internet” appeared on the front screen or whatever it’s called. I don’t recall that I ever asked for it but I cannot make it go away. To be honest I probably did ask for it in the sense that I once, once, failed to reject it on some occasion when some damn prompt asking me to take it popped up and I had to get rid of the pop-up quickly in order to get on with whatever I wanted to do.

That anecdote is probably wrong in its terminology. I may have been overly harsh to Samsung or its internet. The point is that this type of situation, where the user has to keep rejecting something that the software company is pushing, and if they slip up just once they are deemed to have accepted it, is widely recognized to be a right pain. Can anyone give me the words to make this a metaphor for why “neverendums” are a bad thing?

Or what about an example from the history of sport? Little though I know about sports, even I can see that there can be few things more frustrating for an athlete than to run the race of your life – and then have it announced that, “Oh, sorry, old chap, that was a false start. We’ll have to run it again.” This would be even worse if it were suspected that the sporting authorities had applied the rules in a partial manner. For instance there may have been times when white athletics officials were more prone to declare that a re-run was necessary if a black athlete won than if a white athlete did.

I may have described a similar situation regarding football in an earlier post I cannot find now.

Has this scenario actually happened? Dates, names and places please!

And if you know as little as I do of those two fields, how do you make the argument against a second referendum?

Or, if you prefer, what stories, anecdotes or metaphors do you use to argue in favour of a second referendum?

68 comments to I seek a software or sporting metaphor to explain why a second referendum would be wrong

  • neonsnake

    If I may, I have evidence that a large percentage of Brexit voters assumed that we’d stay in the single market, or customs union, or didn’t understand the difference between the two.

    Large being roughly the same amount who assumed that Brexit meant no deal.

    Point being, the voters for Brexit had no idea what they had voted for. So, a second referendum on the outcome is not out of the question, democratically speaking, no matter how much we wish it was.

  • deejaym

    *evidence*…….

  • Runcie Balspune

    It very easy to say “second referendum”, as if the first one was all that matters.

    There were years of campaigning to get a referendum as a policy, those years slowly gained support, eventually UKIP threatened the main party votes and so a majority government was voted in on the basis of the promise of a referendum.

    Then we had a referendum which Leave established the majority.

    Then a majority of MPs voted to invoke Article 50 that would see us leave on 29th March 2019.

    Then we had a second election in which both the main parties campaigned on a promise to uphold the result of the referendum, and they both increased their vote share as a result.

    I work as a programmer, there is an old anecdote about putting “are you sure?” dialogs, because when one idiot user selects the option and then positively selects “are you sure” but really didn’t mean it, you might then need a “are you sure you’re sure” dialog, and so on …

  • Andrew Douglas

    Neonsnake.
    Tosh. You can’t speak for anyone else. You just don’t know.

    I do know that, when I voted in the referendum, the Government pamphlet helpfully pointed out that voting Leave would mean that we left the customs union and a host of other EU structures.

    Because I believed that to be a desirable outcome, I voted to Leave, and would do so again.

    As to the constant refrain repeated by Remainers that ‘we had no idea what we voted for” I certainly knew that I didn’t believe the lies from the remain establishment about the economy, the likely progress of interest rates, unemployment and so on. I was right.

    The only things we certainly know more about since the referendum are that neither the Conservative or Labour parties are to be trusted, the top echelons of the civil service are staffed by quislings and traitors, and the EU is an even less desirable place to remain than it was in 2016.

    I share Natalie’s distaste for a second referendum, but believe it highly likely that were the same question to be posed again, the margin of victory for Leave would be significantly higher.

  • V Jones

    Slightly OT, Leave voters are often accused of not knowing what they voted for, are we to assume that all 16 million remain voters are actually hostile to British independence and national sovereignty or that they just didn’t think it mattered since we were independent anyway?

    It is far more likely that remain voters were ignorant of what they were voting for, did they really vote for permanent supremacy of the ECJ, UK laws made by the EU commission, the inability to conclude our own trade deals – forever ?

  • chris

    Think of the EU as a grooming gang, gently prepaing the Fräulein for what is to come.

  • The appropriate sporting analogy is much stronger. This is not a question of a genuine false start, which might of course be unfair to some other contestant, or even a dishonest claim of a false start whose dishonesty we should explain in disallowing it. This is a case of saying, “The bookies’ favourite didn’t win, so the race will be run again.” Even if we believed that the bookies would honour a promise to pay out on the second result – and we shouldn’t, since we know that “We promise to pay out on the second result” means “We want to break our promise to pay out on the first result” – we are merely cheating ourselves if we allow it.

    So ask the people you debate with whether the bookies can rerun the race if the punters win but the punters cannot rerun the race if the bookies win.

    BTW it was said in 2017 that many people voted Corbyn because they felt sure he could not win and so a protest vote was safe. That is far less absurd than claiming that after months of intense propaganda about how ‘leave’ meant leaving the single market, people somehow thought ‘leave’ meant remaining in it. (There is an extraordinary insolence in the contrast between what Remain said the vote would mean before it happened and what they say now.)

    More generally, to argue leavers “did not know they were voting to leave the single market” after such a loud, well-funded, media-pushed Remain campaign is to argue that no vote means anything because voters are so stupid they can utterly mistake what they are voting for – which is something many believe, no doubt, but which is also a hammer far too strong just to crush the nail of Brexit. Anyone who claims this is saying that if there is an election and the government in power loses, it may run the election again, Erdogan-style. And if they deny that’s what they’re saying, then it is they who do not know what they’re asking for. 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie,

    Horse race. There’s the favorite to win the race, but instead another horse wins. Those betting on the favorite keep yelling that there needs to be a second race, but them wasn’t the rules. The winner was The Winnah!, even if the losers don’t like the result.

    Different analogy: You two got married, but after some years one of you decided it wasn’t working, and since your marriage laws allow no-fault divorce, the unhappy one filed for divorce as per the rules. But his or her attorney kept telling him or her that he or she probably wasn’t 100% sure that he or she would be happier after the breakup, so he or she should file a new notice of intent on the other party and go through the whole process again.

    Different analogy: The store stated (in the purchase agreement (that it signed!) that you could return the item at any time for any reason, but after you used it for awhile you decided it just wouldn’t do. The store’s attorney, and yours, kept insisting you needed to give the thing an additional tryout and if you still didn’t like it you could return it later … or perhaps not.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment. Course, I haven’t finished my coffee.

    (Purely as a rhetorical matter, I’d leave race/gender/age etc. out of any analogy.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall–you posted yours while I was writing mine. Great minds! ;>)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    “If your interlocutor is young, as a lot of Europhiles are …”

    A suitable metaphor for young Brits might be marriage and divorce. Young people see their friends getting married and know it is expensive and stressful — life-changing. And many young Brits these days are unfortunately products of broken homes; they know first hand that divorce is expensive and wrenching — also life-changing. It should be an easy sell that getting married and divorced are serious decisions — not wise to ask for a divorce, go through hell over the details of the divorce (even if a lot of it was self-inflicted), and then go back to your now thoroughly pissed-off significant other and suggest that maybe getting divorced was not such a good idea after all.

    The weakness of this as a metaphor is that clearly getting married or divorced is an “all in” type of decision; one has to be completely committed to it. This brings up the unavoidable issue that the UK is a House Divided, not completely committed to anything — 37% of citizens voted for separation, 35% voted for the status quo, and 28% sat on their hands.

    Brexiteers lost a unique opportunity by adopting Barry Soetero’s “We Won” approach following their narrow victory, instead of using that as a platform to continue to persuade the 63% of their fellow citizens that separation from the EU is definitely the way to go. Water under the bridge now. Moving forward, the more serious issue is that separation without fundamental reform of UK governance is going to be a very major disappointment for everyone. Now that the Westminster Political Class has demonstrated their bipartisan total incompetence and shot themselves in the head, the foot, and most other parts of their anatomies, there is an opportunity to convince your fellow citizens of the urgent need for fundamental reforms which can only happen following separation from the EU.

  • Julie, your analogy of a returns-policy that never actually pays the refund “because you haven’t given it a fair trial yet” is a good one. We have to give the EU a longer trial before deciding we don’t like it – and will be always be told that however long we “try” it.

    IIRC, the divorce analogy was anticipated by Staghounds who long ago said that voting to leave and expecting our ruling class to obey was like giving divorce papers to a spouse who wanted the marriage to continue and asking the spouse to file them. I continue to believe that a real Tory leadership election could have avoided that, but after May’s fixed win, it was always a risk. (Getting rid of her remains the best way forward and at least now we also know of some others to deselect.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nothing to do with computers or sports, but the 1988 movie, Stand Up and Deliver, comes to mind.

    The story is about a high-school teacher in an underclass neighborhood in Los Angeles. When he gets his students to achieve their potential, they are forced to take their final exams again, because the establishment think that the students must have cheated.

    A looser analogy is that Monty Python sketch where a vicar has bought a NeverPay insurance policy; which, as the insurance salesman says, is a bargain, but only as long as the vicar never claims.

  • Mrs. Davis

    , the voters for Brexit had no idea what they had voted for.

    But they will the second time. If they vote the right way.

    Frankly, this seems like an argument against having referenda, not in favor of retakes. Our (American) founders feared democracy alone. That is why we have a mixed system of democracy, oligarchy and monarchy, which served us well, until those in favor of democracy started changing the rules to shift us to a more democratic system. The results can be seen in Caliphornia.

    The real problem is that the representatives in many countries, including the UK and the US, no longer represent the will of the people. It will take some time to get a set of leaders who do represent the will of the people, in large part because the will of the people is in unusual flux. In many systems the resolution to this flux is resolved by revolution. That rarely leads to a long term solution. Until the will of the people is expressed in a leadership that can craft a coherent acceptable policy, we should not take every big problem and say Let’s all vote on it. We should sift our leaders until they can craft a policy most of us can accept.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall,

    Yes, and your MPs are like the customer’s attorneys, who keep telling him that he simply can’t let them do that just yet.

    The divorce analogy occurred to me on the spot, as I was writing — no attempt to plagiarize from staghounds. But I imagine that he appreciates your remembering and giving notice of his mention of the same idea.

    His story is better than mine, in that the one who wants the divorce and gives the papers to the spouse to file, despite that the spouse isn’t really on-board with the program, is in the same position as those who want independence from the EU but have to rely on Madam Prime Minister to get the job done (even if they made the mistake of voting for MPs who voted for Her Nibs, and even if said MPs were sound on other issues of vaunted importance).

    (I may have messed up how the process of choosing the MP works. If so, I plead the ignorance of a mere provincial.)

    Gavin — actually lots of people who think they want a divorce start the process, change their minds, try full marriage again, try a separation, try marriage yet again, etc. for years until either they finally file for good, or else die.

  • bobby b

    “Or, if you prefer, what stories, anecdotes or metaphors do you use to argue in favour of a second referendum?”

    If I DID want to make such an argument, I would base it on my father.

    When I was 11 or 12, I rebelled against his rule about bedtime. We argued about it, his point being that I needed a certain amount of sleep every night before school the next day, my point being “ah, crap.”

    He finally said (in frustration, probably) “ok, stay up as late as you want and we’ll see how you function.”

    I stayed up until 2 or 3 that night. The next night, he said “forget it, your bedtime is 10.”

    I said “you told me to choose.”

    He said “your choice was stupid.”

    That’s the most charitable I can be about your government’s actions.

  • Roué le Jour

    Not really addressing your question, but if rerunning is merely “checking” then there is no objection to using the exact same questions with the same blithe assurance that the vote will be respected?

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Julie: “… lots of people who think they want a divorce start the process, change their minds, try full marriage again, try a separation, try marriage yet again, etc. for years until either they finally file for good, or else die.”

    It does happen — but outside the pages of the Daily Mail it is not that common. And it is definitely not that smart — a good way to waste years of one’s life.

    Natalie seemed to be asking specifically for ideas about how to convince younger Europhiles to oppose the idea of a second referendum — so she should look for something which will resonate with that target audience. Software & sports probably don’t have the required resonance because they are ephemeral — we all change the software we use without much heartache, and how many will even remember the controversy over a sporting win a year later? But the pain & mess of divorce have cut much deeper into many young British lives, when they or their friends have been uprooted and moved and seen their hopes dashed.

    It is hard to predict what metaphor (if any) is going to cause someone to change his mind on a second referendum. Conversations on this blog have touched several times on the question of how to persuade someone to change his views. So far, the best suggestion has been bobby b’s concept that we should start by demonstrating respect for the person whose mind we want to change (paraphrase). Maybe Brexiteers would be more effective at building support if they stopped demeaning their fellow citizens with different views as “Remoaners”?

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Another thought for Natalie — perhaps some of those younger Europhiles may have heard of General George Patton, who played such an important role in liberating Western Europe from Nazi rule. And perhaps some of them may also have imbibed the frustration that many feel about the incompetent performance of the entire crop of Westminster politicians. If so, one of General Patton’s famous quotes may make them think about the benefits of just getting on with it, instead of faffing about with Tory Party leadership contests and a second referendum:

    “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

  • SB

    I immediately thought of the 1972 Olympic Gold medal basketball game between the USA and the USSR. Thanks to the intervention of Renato Williams Jones, an English @sswipe for the ages, the USSR managed to score the winning basket on their third attempt, after two replays of the final three seconds. This came after an entire game where the referees made a number of dubious calls in favor of the Soviets.

  • Jack the dog

    The next vote needs to be a general election.

    In which both tories and Labour will be annihilated.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Hmm. So you want another referendum, do you?”

    “Yes.”

    “Are you sure you want another referendum?”

    “Yes.”

    “Are you really sure you want another referendum?”

    “Yes.”

    “Are you really, really sure you want another referendum?”

    “Yes.”

    “Was that a ‘Yes’?”

    “Yes.”

    “You can change your mind any time you like. I mean, it only costs us all £130m every time we run one of these things. Are you sure you want a referendum?”

    “Yes.”

    “Is another referendum what you want?”

    “Yes.”

    “So, it’s a referendum you want, then?”

    “Yes.”

    “Do you think another referendum is a good idea?”

    “Aaagh! Stop asking! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

    “Aha! You said ‘Stop asking’! Gotcha!”

  • Mr Ed

    A second referendum is less meaningful than the Second Coming. We are told it is needed and/or wonderful, but not the question or alternatives.

    Personally I’m fine with a second referendum so long as a) the first referendum is implemented fully beforehand as advertised by HMG, and b) if I, as in me, don’t like the result, it must be ignored, but without the current charade cum farce.

    Sounds fair to me.

    chris wonderfully sums it all up.

  • Marius

    The most logical argument in favour of a second referendum is that Parliament has failed to deliver the mandated exit from the EU and is deadlocked. Therefore the decision on how we leave must be returned to the people. Thus the question must be: deal or no deal? The question of leave vs remain has been asked and answered, it cannot be asked again.

    If this did happen, I expect May’s deal would be supported by Remainers and nervous Leavers and thus go through. I hope I am wrong.

    It then occurs to me, bearing in mind that May’s deal is Brexit in name only and a perfect springboard to go back into the EU, why don’t Remainers support it?

    As I see it, the possibilities are: they still believe they can derail Brexit altogether, they fear a right-wing Tory PM would break out of the deal and really leave or possibly that the EU might prefer Britain as a vassal state, still paying in but not able to cause trouble, and thus prevent re-entry.

  • Mark

    We had a referendum which was only held because the pro EU establishment expected a yes. They result was no so they want to do a second one to get the result they want. A unique occurrence in the EU?

    A software analogy?

    Please load our software. Oh you won’t? You say it’s loaded with spyware and that it will take control of all the devices in your home as well as your bank accounts?

    Hells teeth what sort of a paranoid, tin foil hat wearing nazi are you, you senile old white fart? Fucking inbred morons be grateful we even asked you!

    Well we’ve discussed it with your provider and we’ve got another upgrade so we’ll let you decide again.

    You can either accept the new S/W (which actually has even more spyware in it) or you can stay as you are (and receive regular updates which will do – over a longer period of time – exactly the same thing)

    No need to worry as you have our Brussels/Strabourg helpline which you can call every so often. We will give your enquiry a reference number.

    Your system will run better WITHOUT our S/W and you can get get a better deal elsewhere?

    Buzzbuzzbuzz, clickclickclick…does not compute, does not compute….EXTERMINATE!!!

  • Mr Ed

    In the sporting field, we could compare the situation with the 1966 World Cup Final (in Association Football aka soccer). Circumstances have changed since England won, there was a disputed third English goal, given by the Swiss-German referee, and some claim to have analysed the available footage and concluded that the ball didn’t go over the line, so did England really win 4-2? Might the Germans have staged a comeback had that goal not been given? Also, English spectators were on the pitch thinking it was all over at a crucial point, even if not interfering with play, just as England’s fourth went in.

    Plus there has been a change in circumstances, Germany is now reunited, so lots of East Germans were excluded. It was only England that won, the other UK nations weren’t allowed in the team, and Scotland beat England in 1967, so really they were the World Champions. Also, sadly a lot of the players have died, so we can’t be certain it was a fair result. What’s more, Portugal, arguably the ‘best’ team in the World at that time (think of them as the ‘Norway-plus’ option) were knocked out by England in the semifinals.

    And did the English fans really want the result? It has led to more than 50 years of hurt, looking forward to the next possible win in the 2020 Euros. There was a song 2 decades ago bemoaning 30 years of hurt, and it is only getting worse.

    So let’s re-run the 1966 Final, with Portugal and Germany in it, and give the trophy to Scotland.

  • bobby b

    My understanding is that the first referendum was legally non-binding – Parliament is sovereign, a concept alien to me here in the USA – and, as every government official who “promised” prior to the vote to follow the expressed will of the people is now out of power, the only referendum enforcement power remaining is voter anger.

    So, it really comes down to this: Do you have the votes now? Today?

    Because if you’re Leaving, it will be because you either change your government enough so that it enforces Brexit, or you win a second referendum. Both depend on the same thing – votes.

    It all comes down to numbers. If you have them, you’ll Leave, one way or the other. If you don’t have them, you’ll be staying. So, not a huge difference between choices of strategy. But if you do have the votes, I would guess that holding a second referendum will take much longer to have effect than simply scaring hell out of your governing class by upsetting the applecart.

    (Your governing class has entirely too little fear of its subjects. Y’all need to become citizens. )

  • Marius writes:

    The most logical argument in favour of a second referendum is that Parliament has failed […] and is deadlocked.

    But that is surely why we had the first EU Referendum (or maybe why we should have had it, and not PR-Dave’s attempted manipulation of democratic process). That Parliament and each of the main political parties have been divided over the EU membership since at least towards the end of the Thatcher government. And that includes not going into the Euro, not joining the Schengen Area, and less than full commitment on other EU-ey things all around.

    And Marius writes:

    Thus the question must be: deal or no deal? The question of leave vs remain has been asked and answered, it cannot be asked again.

    Well, I agree that any other EU Referendum must be a First Referendum: thus the question(s) asked must be materially different.

    However, May’s deal is not a deal, it is a transition arrangement to a later deal. So on this, we can judge that the Government (drawn from Parliament) have failed again.

    And WTO rules (the so-called no deal) puts the UK and the EU into a defined default position (like much of the rest of the world with each other – so not unusual and not particularly bad), from which new negotiations can begin immediately. And such negotiations will surely be better motivated on both sides than where we are now. Where we are now being that the EU has clear motivation to agree nothing – with the modest chance that the UK will stay in the EU. And around half the UK Parliament have the same motivation as the EU. And a different (around) half of the UK Parliament have the motivation of wanting a general election, which they think they stand a chance of winning.

    The losers, all round, remain the UK’s people. Yet they/we are told to be ready to jump through the same or maybe a marginally different hoop (sporting analogy) – when the result had already been posted and they/we wanted to be off to the changing room and tea and cake!

    Best regards

  • Pat

    How about proposing “best of three”

  • Paul Marks

    I do not know about metaphors – but I do know that a “second referendum” WHEN WE HAVE NOT CARRIED OUT THE RESULT OF THE FIRST REFERENDUM would be wrong.

    If the British people decide, after a period of years, that they do not like independence and wish to return to the rule of the European Union – that would distress me, but I would accept the right of the British people to give up freedom and return to being under the control of the European Union. HOWEVER we have not had years of independence – we have not had ONE DAY of independence, the referendum for freedom of 2016 has been DISHONOURED by Prime Minister Theresa May – may her name be a curse.

  • neonsnake

    For the people questioning my “brexit voters did not know what they were voting for”:

    Have a look at page 13 of this survey, carried out a couple of weeks after the referendum. 42% of Leave voters believed that the priority should be maintaining access to the single market – despite as pointed out above, it being made very clear that we would be leaving the single market (I tried playing word games when I first saw the report – “is access the same as staying in it?” and concluded sadly that I’d be deceiving myself if I did so, especially when I read the rest of the report).

    I’m sure we all knew what we were voting for, but unfortunately “brexit voters” as a whole did not. Optimistically, I could say that we all knew what knew what we were voting for, but we were voting for different things; not unlikely given the nature of the debate leading up to the vote.

    Unfortunately, the “brexit voters did not know what they voted for” is true, if you treat “brexit voters” as a whole, not as individuals.

    I see no value in denying this, and I don’t even think it’s controversial. It’s not unusual for people voting to not be 100% informed on everything, and it seems that a good percentage of us believed that we’d still be in the single market post-brexit.

    I see some value in a second referendum to confirm exactly which type of Brexit we want. Mainly because the 42% is now more like 10% – can’t lay my hands on the link right now, but I read somewhere recently that 90% of leavers want no-deal now, rather than the much lower percentage who wanted no-deal back in the day.

    Although I’m forced to admit that a case can be made for it, I don’t think I want a second referendum that includes Remain; only because “we will implement it” was so prominent. If I thought that the vote would be 60-40 or better in favour of Leave, I might waver, as I think it could help heal some of the division in the country. I’m not certain though.

  • The film Lagaan – a rather good Bollywood film about tax abolition and cricket.

    An officer of the british Raj challenges the King to eat meat. He declines on religious grounds and so the officer declines his request for protection during religious workship (the request that prompted the kings visit) and he goes a step further and suddenly remembers a disagreement over the level of taxation. Having reduced taxes in the past he says he now needs double tax. The king’s religious convictions are not active in this dispute so he goes ahead an announces double tax. The villagers in this jurisdiction are dirt poor and there is a drought. They cannot pay double tax and protest. The officer (Captain Russel) challenges the villagers to a game of cricket. If they win then all tax is waved for three years, if the English – who play the game regularly – win then Captain Russell will demand triple tax.

    That’s the backstory, being rather long you may need to keep this for use in talking to Bollywood fans (who are not all Indian). Here is the bit which is more relevant.

    The villagers scramble to get a team together. It is hard as not all villagers agree the challenge should be accepted. They have no equipment and no knowledge of the game. Goli is an animal farmer and is highly proficient with a slingshot. He comes up with an odd way of bowling that uses the strength in his arm developed for his sling shot. Eventually the villagers all get involved in preparations and make substantial physical, emotional and even spiritual investments in the team. Making the team a success is the villagers’ top priority.

    During the game Goli is blisteringly effective as the English are unfamiliar with Goli’s odd technique. They protest to the referee. This is one of several pivotal moments in the game which is eventually won, predictably, on the last ball. The English protest the technique is illegal, someone steps forward and challenges the referee on whether the laws of the game specifically ban it. They do not. The referree decides the matter in favour of the Indians. Why? Because any change in the rules needed to be made after the game had concluded.

    Break that down a bit. If Goli’s technique were known to be illegal before the game then he would not have been selected. The team would have trained up another player, scouted for players in more remote parts of the province, made different investments, planned a different strategy. They would have conducted themselves very differently over a long period of time.

    The relevance to Brexit is that Leavers would have conducted themselves differently both before and after the referendum. Data protection rules would probably have been different (Vote Leave agreed to destroy records), Nigel Farage may not have left UKIP, activists who ignored my speech outside Parliament may have listened more carefully and spent a year talking about different things. It is not a small thing, years of behaviour from thousands of people would have been different.

    (Oh but Leave have loads of illegal money etc etc the comparison with dirt poor villagers in India is not right. Wrong. Actually Remain have very very much more money, as they benefit from money spent my various institutions, such as HSBC, the Government, the media figures etc who all seem to be on that side.)

  • Roué le Jour

    bobby b
    Refuting the written assurances of the previous generalissimo is something banana republics do and the British government isn’t quite there yet. Instead, they prefer to redefine “leave” to mean something more agreeable to themselves, such as “become a non-voting member” even if that means the loss of territory.

    The whole point of a second referendum is to present the leave/remain choice with “leave” defined the way they want it, not the way leavers want it. As others have said, the real second referendum will be held in a couple of weeks time.

  • Roué le Jour

    The main problem I have with disregarding a referendum is that a referendum is no different in principle from an election. Any argument that people didn’t understand what they were voting for can be made just as well if people vote for the wrong party.

    This is our system, and if you don’t like it you can change it, but not retroactively because you got a result you didn’t like. (Edit: Which is what Simon Gibbs said.)

  • Myno

    Pregnancy tests should be conducted via a protocol wherein you don’t get a result until it’s the result you want.

  • bobby b

    “Refuting the written assurances of the previous generalissimo is something banana republics do and the British government isn’t quite there yet.”

    Isn’t it?

    If they’re not there yet, it’s not for lack of trying. I’d define it as an aspiring banana republic – they have every intention of getting there, they’re almost there, but there are still pockets of resistance.

    Of course, if they send Farage et al to Brussels, they might just get out of the EU at the EU’s insistence, against the will of their own government. Talk about irony. I’ve always enjoyed Farage’s speeches at the EU. He could just obnoxious them to death.

  • neonsnake

    Any argument that people didn’t understand what they were voting for can be made just as well if people vote for the wrong party.

    If the “wrong” party gets into power, then we the people get to change our minds in 4 or 5 years time if we voted for the “wrong” party – it’s an argument I’ve seen used pro-second referendum a number of times.

    The “they didn’t know what they were voting for” is however the strongest argument I can muster in favour. I can’t think of anything else that I can countenance – everything I can think of boils down to “I don’t like the result. Do it again!”

    Still doesn’t mean we should have one, just that we were asked in the last sentence how we would argue in favour.

    My argument for NOT having one is far, far simpler, and is the same as Natalie’s – our government said they would implement our vote.

    I can’t think of how to spin a metaphor or anecdote around that that doesn’t obfuscate the simplicity of it.

  • Neonsnake writes (May 13, 2019 at 8:52 am):

    For the people questioning my “brexit voters did not know what they were voting for”: […] Have a look at page 13 of this survey, carried out a couple of weeks after the referendum. 42% of Leave voters believed that the priority should be maintaining access to the single market – despite as pointed out above, it being made very clear that we would be leaving the single market (I tried playing word games when I first saw the report – “is access the same as staying in it?” and concluded sadly that I’d be deceiving myself if I did so, especially when I read the rest of the report).

    Well, here is a reductive (and I hope not biased) cut and paste from the said Page 13.

    Page 13 (Q3)
    ————
    Q3. Which of the following do you think should be the priority for the British Government when negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU?

    Option 1: Maintaining access to the single market so Britain can have free trade with the EU.
    Option 2: Restricting the freedom of movement so immigration from the EU is reduced.

    Remain Voters: Opt1 93%; Opt2 5%
    Leave voters: Opt 1 42%; Opt2 56%

    My interpretation of “Maintaining access to the single market” is different from that of the equally simple “Continue to be a member of the single market”. Why use the first if it means the same as the second? IMHO, Neosnake has confused himself with his word-games – or more likely is arguing with sophistry to cover a weakness.

    Next, I could paraphrase interpretation of the opinion survey question Q3 asked as not far from: “Are you a xenophobe, or would you rather have zero-tariff access to the EU’s Single Market?”

    My personal view on immigration is that I would like EU citizens to have residential/working access to the UK that is equivalent (all other things being equal) to citizens of all other countries in the world; and this is totally independent of the question on tariff-free trade. Thus I would have preferred a question more along the lines of should EU citizens having residential/working access that is equal to or preferential to access of citizens of other nations. And for that question to be totally disconnected from other substantially different terms of any deal.

    My personal view on the single market is that it is (and should be with the EU27) the EU market; the UK should be determining its own laws and trading standards – independently of every other country in the world (including independently of the EU27). I want free trade or as close as can be got with all other countries. However, I do not want to be in a market where there can never be any border checks – just that mostly the checks would be simple and quick – what seems to be termed “maximum facilitation”. Such an arrangement allows easier change to import regulations (including, but not only, changing some tariffs for some other countries).

    Lastly for now, anyone who takes part in an opinion survey is having their underlying views set up for biased interpretation. Whoever asks the questions has specific purpose; whoever is inveigled into taking part is unlikely to know that purpose.

    Best regards

  • CaptDMO

    Women’s Sports….WORLD RECORDS!
    OK, now, we’re going to have the contest AGAIN, only THIS time we’ve invited some folks that CALL themselves women.
    Don’t mind the jock straps hanging from the shower curtain rods.
    Oh, and it’s going to be OK if THEY are using artificial hormones.

  • neonsnake

    IMHO, Neosnake has confused himself with his word-games – or more likely is arguing with sophistry to cover a weakness.

    I would argue that “Maintain” would imply continuing the current arrangement – but with the Boris cake-and-eat-it approach of removing freedom of movement. I briefly considered that “access” could mean “the ability to trade with”, but that’s far too trivial – being blocked from trading with the Single Market is not going to happen.

    If you’re unsure, look at table 17 (the question is phrased more like your re-wording) – 7% of Leavers want to stay in the single market with the current rules on free movement, 54% want to stay in the single market with some limits on free movement, and 35% want to leave the single market and end free movement (and 4% don’t know).

    We now have a better understanding of which of those options are on the table, re. in this instance the single market, hence my tentative support for a referendum over which type of Brexit we should go for.

  • Neonsnake writes (May 13, 2019 at 12:54 pm):

    I would argue that “Maintain” would imply continuing the current arrangement – but with the Boris cake-and-eat-it approach of removing freedom of movement. I briefly considered that “access” could mean “the ability to trade with”, but that’s far too trivial – being blocked from trading with the Single Market is not going to happen.

    I agree with Neonsnake that “access” cannot simply mean “the ability to trade with”. However Q3 effectively defines its Option 1 as “free trade”, which is different from “access”.

    Looking, at Neonsnake’s request, at Table 17, we find the following.

    Table 17
    Q5. Following the result of the EU referendum, the UK will now have to negotiate a new deal on the EU single market. The EU Single Market allows countries in the EU to trade with each other without additional charges or regulation standards. As part of this access, they must agree to rules allowing free movement of people including the right of EU citizens to be able to live and work anywhere in the EU.

    This clearly (to me) defines that there will have to be a “new deal on the EU single market”. This (again IMHO) is different from “continuing the current arrangement”.

    I also note that the opinion poll here introduces “As part of this access, they must agree to rules allowing free movement of people …”. Now, it is true that that it has been for some time EU policy (for a few decades but not the whole of its existence (back to EEC days, nor even the whole period of UK membership) to tie the two together (at separate times, even through EEA or just EFTA membership). However, it is also true that the EU (as part of its negotiating position with the UK since the EU Referendum) to re-emphasised that it intends not to move away from that dual policy tie-up. Thus the opinion poll looks to be introducing new information (on no change of policy, which might have happened) while seemingly seeking clarification on the understanding of voters as it was several weeks earlier.

    I would also say quite definitely that the opinion poll is clearly significantly more extensive in its question(s) and statement(s) of background and assumptions than ever appeared in the EU Referendum question itself. I, as Leave voter, had no doubt in my mind what I was voting for (and its consequences on the then status, and likely future implications). However, even I am wondering what if anything the 51 pages (and effectively several tens of questions) of opinion poll results actually mean. The confusion of meaning continues to make me think (again IMHO) that one cannot conclude from it what Neonsnake wishes us to conclude.

    Would you prefer your suit in pinstripe or with a waistcoat, sir? There are no other options; you cannot have both or neither!

    Best regards

  • Mr Ecks

    What is needed is OUT of the EU and if it takes a civil war so be it–never mind arguing with remainiacs. US General Mattis gives the plan.

  • bloke in spain

    There is undoubtedly a sporting metaphor. But it comes from the under 6’s egg & spoon race
    “It’s not FAIR I didn’t win. BWAAAAAAA!”

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Odd snippet of news today — Ireland has declared a Climate Emergency. What? Will it not stop raining? No, it turns out to be the usual Davoise scam — the peons will have to stop eating meat and start riding the bus, while the Political Class continues to jet off First Class to the Bahamas to discuss the continuing crisis with their peers over an appetizer of caviar and pate de fois gras.

    The interesting part of the story was buried deep in the article — Ireland is only the second country to declare a Climate Emergency, following in the footsteps of … the UK! The denizens of the Mother of Parliaments took time out from irrelevancies like Brexit to issue their National Declaration of an Environment & Climate Emergency earlier this month. The obvious observation is that separation from the EU is not going to solve the UK’s problem with dysfunctional governance.

    The relevance to Natalie’s question is that she is seeking a rhetorical approach to convince young Europhiliacs to change their minds on the advisability of a second referendum — not for the most effective method of preaching to the converted. There was a time when the young were more likely to harbor revolutionary feelings — the “System” is corrupt and broken, and needs to be torn down and replaced. I don’t know if that is still true of young Brits. If there still is some residual desire among young Brits to make the world a better place, then perhaps an effective message to them would be that separation from the EU is an essential first step to sweeping away the current incompetent Westminster Political Class and improving the UK’s governance. Hence, forget about any more referenda — just get on with it!

  • Natalie, the meta-reasoning of Nullius in Verba (May 13, 2019 at 6:07 am) is fun and maybe usable. Its only problem is that at the moment all delay helps our enemies. They might be OK with having a referendum on whether to rerun the Brexit referendum, and even endure leavers demanding that referendum be rerun if it got the wrong answer, provided the political class could keep us inside the EU during the whole process on the grounds that we had not decided yet. So if you use it, I’d keep that point in mind.

    I agree with Nigel Sedgwick (May 13, 2019 at 1:40 pm et seq) that the old opinion poll’s phrasing is not an argument against leavers being ignorant of what they voted for. Free trade access to the single market, like Canada-deal trade access to the single market or WTO trade access to the single market, is not the same as membership of it. Indeed, the very word ‘access’ says we are not members, since we would not need access to the single market if we were part of the single market.

  • Maybe Brexiteers would be more effective at building support if they stopped demeaning their fellow citizens with different views as “Remoaners”? (Gavin Longmuir, May 13, 2019 at 1:07 am)

    I don’t think Natalie is hoping to influence Remoaners. I think she is hoping to influence Remainers. These are two very distinguishable groups (though with an area of ambiguous overlap, no doubt).

    Remoaners know that the elite should make decisions and prejudiced incompetents (e.g. the kind of people who want to leave the EU) should obey them. They know there should always be another vote if the wrong answer was given. They know how right the EU is to rerun referenda that get the wrong result. They know judges should gut laws the elite dislike, and find that what the elite want is law.

    Remainers voted to remain, as Natalie, I and others voted to leave. Like us, they heard and read the promise: “The government will do what you choose.” Like us they expected to stay in the EU if Remain won and to leave the EU if Leave won. Unlike us, they would have preferred Remain to win.

    The honesty of Remainers – their willingness to value respecting the vote above getting the result they wanted – is now an important matter. Remoaners’ pride is to know better than us common people – they would have to lose that pride to understand the wrongness of a second referendum. Remainers are an important target audience of any analogies we provide. Remoaners want to get a second referendum. Remainers are an obvious target for their arguments. We would rather Remainers respected the result.

    The US equivalent is asking someone who voted for Hillary to respect the fact that Trump won. Maybe you don’t waste your time asking a PC liberal, but maybe you try hard to find arguments to convince middle-of-the-road Democrat-voters that the deep state operation against Trump was evil, so they should endure Trump 2020 for the sake of preserving constitutional transfers of power in the US.

    Saying “Don’t call people with different views Remoaners” is like saying “Don’t call people who voted for Hillary in 2016 liberals.” In one sense, that is absurd and in another sense it is very good advice – but I’m guessing in both senses bobby b et al do not need to hear it because they already know the two groups are far from identical. Natalie knows it is almost by definition pointless to try and persuade Remoaners, but hopefully possible to persuade some Remainers.

    (There is also of course the unavoidable necessity at times of arguing with Remoaners. Third-parties see and hear such discussions. A crisp argument has value though its nominal target be a hopeless case.)

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Scene: Augusta National Golf Course, 18th green surrounded by a packed crowd.
    Announcer (whispering): The champ is lining up his putt. He has to make this to force a play-off. The champ is signalling for quiet around the green. This crowd is amazing. Absolute quiet now. The champ lines up again.

    Click! (COUGH COUGH COUGH).

    Announcer: He misses! Oh he misses the putt!

    The Champ: I was distracted by someone coughing! I want a do-over. I DEMAND a do-over!

    *******

    And in the EU’s political world, he would GET the do-over, because shut-up, he said.

  • Itellyounothing

    Produce it then.

  • ns

    “What is so wrong with having another referendum?” Having a 2nd tells the voters who voted Leave that they may as well stay home and not vote, thus ensuring that Remain will eventually ‘win’, as no other result will be acknowledged. And if the result of the 1st referendum is not respected, why would anyone respect the 2nd? You won’t if it is Leave, and I won’t if it is Remain.
    “Is not another vote more democratic by definition?” Only in a banana republic, where the peons must keep voting until they get the result the rulers want.
    “Now that we know more, isn’t a good idea to check if people really do want to leave the European Union?” Let’s respect the result of the 1st referendum. After a few years of independence, we’ll know even more, and can then make an even better informed decision (h/t to Paul Marks).
    That’s a rhetorical “we”, as an american I have an opinion (Leave!) but no vote.

  • Agammamon

    That anecdote is probably wrong in its terminology. I may have been overly harsh to Samsung or its internet. The point is that this type of situation, where the user has to keep rejecting something that the software company is pushing, and if they slip up just once they are deemed to have accepted it, is widely recognized to be a right pain. Can anyone give me the words to make this a metaphor for why “neverendums” are a bad thing?

    Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 might resonate more strongly with people. When W10 was rolled out it was a free update to all prior Windows users but a lot didn’t want to change from W7 – which didn’t come with the spyware baggage the W10 did and worked perfectly fine for their purposes. But with every update of W10 came a push to W7 users to update. An update that would happen automatically if you didn’t deliberately opt-out each time. Which mean jumping through hoops to disable auto-updating for W7 lest an update happen in the middle of the night and you come to work in the morning to find you now are using W10 whether you wanted to or not.

    And, of course, there’s no rolling back to W7. Once the W10 upgrade was accepted it was the final decision allowed.

  • neonsnake

    Good luck, Gavin. I, truly, admire your tenacity. I fear it is wasted.

  • CaptDMO

    Mark
    May 13, 2019 at 6:54 am

    “We had a referendum which was only held because the pro EU establishment expected a yes. They result was no so they want to do a second one to get the result they want. A unique occurrence in the EU?”

    HEY! We just had something similar in the US. Only it churned through 2+ years and “cost” (was billed anyway) $23,000,000+, and it wasn’t a “mandate” referendum.

    The excuses for why the grapes were sour, and the impromptu “back-up plan, is afoot in the courts.
    The lie, double down, and project, standard flies apace.
    And get THIS! Our president is OPPOSING the very same people he opposed… to get into office.
    The unmitigated GAUL!News at eleven.
    (Sorry it wasn’t ‘puter/sports ish)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    The wasted tenacity to which neonsnake (May 13, 2019 at 8.24 pm) referred. The comment strangely disappeared. Glitches happen.

    Niall K: ”… it is almost by definition pointless to try and persuade Remoaners, but hopefully possible to persuade some Remainers.”

    Ah Niall! Communication is so difficult. In your mind, there is a clear distinction between “Remainer” (Good, but misinformed) and “Remoaner” (Bad, probably evil). But what about in the mind of your listener? — the person whose mind you are trying to change? It is quite possible that the target young Europhile will hear you use the term “Remoaner”, dismiss you as a crank and stop listening. Communication is so difficult.

    Looking at the UK’s sorry current situation from the outside, an ideal outcome would be to have a second referendum in which 70% of UK citizens (rather than only 37%) voted for separation from the EU. Then the UK could move forward to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of its new status as a largely united country rather than as a severely divided polity. If “Leavers” had done a better job over the last 2 years of communicating with the nearly 2 out of 3 of their fellow citizens who did not vote for separation, the outcome of a second referendum would not be in doubt – and no-one would even suggest a second referendum. But communication is difficult, and that lost opportunity is now water under the bridge.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Agammamon, there have been many interesting responses, but yours is the one that has come closest so far to what I was looking for – it’s fairly recent and a lot of people are familiar with Windows.

    SB’s sporting anecdote had the right structure but (a) it was a long time ago, and (b) it shouldn’t be this way, but a sports story with an Englishman as the bad guy and some Americans as the team cheated out of victory against the Soviets isn’t necessarily going to have immediate appeal to the average young English “progressive”. (Young Scots or Welsh progressives may be a different story.) And “immediate appeal” is the very quality I seek.

    Simon Gibbs’s suggestion of the plot of the Bollywood film Lagaan is better on that score, but it has the disadvantage of being fiction. But I will bear it in mind!

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Why not just modify a quote from ‘Animal Farm’? ‘One referendum- Good! Two Referendums- BAAADDD!!”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex) (May 13, 2019 at 11:22 pm), the danger with Windows 7 to 10 is that while people joke much about upgrades making things worse, these jokes are against a background of thinking that computers do indeed work better than in the actual stone age. It has a danger of playing into the old “1066 and all that” joke about the Cavaliers (“Wrong but Wromantic”) and the Roundheads (“Right and Repulsive”). I think a pro-Remain debater would happily explain that “There must be upgrades, but yes, the upgrade process may sometime suck, and likewise there must be ever-closer union, though we do so sympathise with your wromantic feelings about the UK, independence, etc.”. I see it as dangerous ground to fight on.

    My computer analogy would be the dialog

    Leave EU?

      OK   Cancel

    where clicking ‘OK’ redisplays the dialog forever and ever, and only clicking ‘Cancel’ gets rid of it.

  • I, truly, admire your tenacity (neonsnake, May 13, 2019 at 8:24 pm)

    Tenacity can be a virtue when OT. It could be sufficiently OT in this thread to discuss what name should be used, not just for Brexit (whether as well as or instead of ‘Remoaners’) but more generally for those who know that when a vote get the ‘wrong’ answer then it must be rerun or otherwise nullified. Natalie notes that the attitude is commonplace in EUrocrats, and we’ve seen it in the US against Trump’s win.

    Over the last two years, I’ve heard several Remainers – several acquaintances who voted remain – say thing like, “I didn’t vote for it – but now we have, I think they should just get on with it”. From things I’ve seen in the media I suspect this is not an unusual sentiment. By contrast, from the morning after the vote, there were those who just knew that, since the referendum had got the ‘wrong’ answer, it ‘of course’ had to be undone – by a second referendum, by treating the first as merely advisory, by redefining the question, by whatever means would work. (Even as they argued furiously for a particular method at a particular moment, it was clear that the undoing was more important than the chosen method). This article is a (perhaps comically extreme) example. Rereading it in the light of the last two years, I am reminded of Burke’s remark about all the French revolutionaries having the same goal

    the philosophers proceeding to it directly, the politicians by the surer mode of zig-zag

    From not long after the morning of the vote, these “Ignore it, or nullify it, or rerun it – do something!” people began to be mocked as ‘remoaners’. Names can matter in politics, just as analogies can matter. Regardless of whether Gavin is right or fallacious (or right only in contexts quite unlike this blog’s comment threads) to criticise ‘remoaner’, can we give Natalie a better term, or simply a more widely-applicable term, for this behaviour? (‘Sore loser’ is well known but does not have quite the same connotations of ‘refuse-to-loser’ or ‘rewrite-rules-post-hoc-to-win-er’.)

  • neonsnake

    but a sports story with an Englishman as the bad guy and some Americans as the team cheated out of victory against the Soviets isn’t necessarily going to have immediate appeal to the average young English “progressive”.

    Hm. That strikes me as a very sensible point.

    I still think, 100%, that your “A so-called democracy that will not allow certain results is a sham democracy.” is a good enough argument, and stands on it’s own two feet without needing a metaphor that may weaken it. It, to me, is obvious that it shouldn’t need backing up…

    However…I am forced by evidence to admit that some people are not persuaded by it.

    So what if you tried this:

    On the 1st Feb 2016, the Government entered into an agreement with the people of the UK to allow them self-determination of who would make their laws – the UK or the EU. We believe passionately in the right to self-determination (who could argue with that?). The government agreed that whatever the vote was, they would implement it.

    People are comparing the vote to an election, and saying that we get to change our mind on elections, 4-5 years later, if we didn’t like the result, or get what we respected – so why shouldn’t we be allowed, 3 years later, to have another vote on this, to see if we’ve changed our minds?

    I would say that it’s NOT the same as an election, it’s more like a treaty.

    The government entered into a treaty, where we agreed to ratify on the 23rd June 2016 following publicly held debates on the pros and cons of EU membership. The public then got to vote on whether to implement the treaty (leaving the EU) or not. The voted to do so – by an admittedly small margin, but if the vote had swung the other way, we wouldn’t be arguing for a re-run.

    The treaty is that the government agreed with it’s people to implement the result of the debate.

    Then (this is your appeal to emotion):

    The history of western civilisation is filled, deplorably and to our shame, with governments that have made treaties with other people – and indeed their own people, in the case of the Native Americans – and have broken them. We will not – cannot – go back to those times. It is incumbent upon a government to listen to the people, and to carry out the people’s wishes. We recognise that in this case, the “will of the people” only speaks to just over half the people, and we acknowledge and recognise the objections and distress of the other half, and are doing everything we can to assuage those objections, and decrease the distress.

    But we cannot go back to pre-modern government, where the ruling powers go against the wishes of the people, and where they break treaties at will – certainly not treaties with other countries, and most certainly not treaties made with its own people.

    The parts I’ve italicised are the emotional bits – what self-respecting progressive could argue against those?

    It’s a bit messy, not perfect, and I’m sure other people could write it more concisely, but I think it hits the “progressive europhile” tick-boxes.

    I know I often advocate for “softly-softly”, and I recognise that this is might seem out of character, as I’m invoking fairly brutal images of the trail of broken treaties (maybe other examples of broken treaties might be better, as long as they’re still brutal and, importantly, self-deprecating) – but I think it avoids the pitfalls of “Englishman as bad-guy” that you pointed out?

    It also avoids watering down our “non-metaphorical” argument.

  • neonsnake

    can we give Natalie a better term, or simply a more widely-applicable term, for this behaviour?

    My honest answer is this: I wouldn’t use the term myself, nor would I make up another term for “remoaner” that sounded less offensive. When I come across people who are arguing for, say, another referendum or to simply revoke Article 50, I ask why, I listen to their concerns, and I try to answer them as best as I can.

    If it gets deep, I explain that my all of my opinions come from a deep-seated belief that every single individual human should be guaranteed their liberty (TBF, I tend to use the word “freedom”, it has slightly better optics), autonomy and privacy, and that ongoing membership of the EU is incompatible with that, because they are continuing to pass laws and introduce regulations that infringe on liberty. I acknowledge that our present Conservative or Labour parties are not conducive to liberty/freedom, either, but that we have a better chance in the future of moving in the right direction, IMO, if we are unshackled from the EU.

    Sometimes, those people cannot be reached. In which case I content myself with the knowledge that I’ve had a good try, I hope that anyone listening who was undecided may have been swayed, and I go and do something else.

  • neonsnake (May 14, 2019 at 10:24 am), just to be clear, I’m not looking for a ‘less-offensive’ term. I think a communicative term for someone whose attitude to political contests is, “Either I win the vote or I’ll win by cheating” could hardly be flattering or even neutral.

    Partly, it would be useful to have a more general term for what is clearly a more widespread phenomenon.

    Partly, ‘sore loser’ can mean ‘cheater’ but might also be used for someone who does not actually cheat but just refuses to “get over it.” I don’t think remoaner is, or ever was, subject to the same confusion (to any degree that matters) in the post-Brexit-vote UK, and I do think that fighting in the public domain to expose the “we didn’t win so it doesn’t count” attitude very much needed to be done from the moment it revealed itself – so I think whoever invented ‘remoaner’ is one of the good guys. However I am just one guy, living in Scotland and so possessed of an adequacy of remainer acquaintance. I could be wrong. Were I speaking to any audience where I thought ‘Remoaner’ truly failed to distinguish between people who think

    Votes don’t count unless they go my way

    and people who think

    Votes do count – but I wish this one had gone the other way

    then I’d be as ready to avoid it as Gavin could wish. And of course, in a one-on-one situation with someone who will listen as well as speak, then, like you, I often use paragraphs instead of summary terms (surely you do not doubt I define my meaning at length when able to? 🙂 ). But if you have 30 seconds to make a point, and you know you are really talking to the undecided in the audience, not your utterly unpersuadable co-debater or their cheerleaders, then effective names for things can be needed.

    Of course, when approaching comment 60 in a long thread, I should probably in fact be looking to resume this discussion at a later time – maybe much later. 🙂 Gavin, neonsnake, please feel free to have any last words in this thread.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Nial — My last word. The underlying topic of this thread is how to communicate effectively with a fellow citizen who holds different views and how to persuade that fellow citizen to change his mind. It may be that the topic of separation from the EU is too emotive for some to allow a clear focus on that issue of effective persuasion.

    We are all tempted to dismiss views with which we do not agree, and even to ascribe unpleasant motives to the people who hold those views. After all, if they were intelligent open-minded individuals, they would obviously hold the same views that I do! 😀 But as long as we have universal suffrage democracies, there are going to be lots of our fellow citizens who hold different views on many issues — be it Brexit or free trade or capital punishment or global warming or government regulation. Part of citizenship (especially for those of a libertarian bent) is respecting our fellow citizen’s freedom to hold different (even unpopular) views. It may be wise to demonstrate respect for that freedom by avoiding apparently disrespectful labels.

  • bobby b

    Good article in the Columbia Journalism Review about the use of pejorative nicknames (centering on Trump’s mastery of the technique).

    ” . . . nicknames . . . trade in “strength, moral failure, and cartoonishly rendered virtue,” appealing to our “childlike desire to make an easily digestible morality tale of a complicated world.””

    So, “Remoaner” would appear to be a useful construct, but probably only to the extent that we’ve stopped trying to speak to and convince those “Remoaners” and are instead aiming our speech at those who might fall in with the “Remoaners” out of naivete.

  • neonsnake

    I, as I sometimes do, find myself pondering the words of the great English/Irish philosopher J.J.Lydon (1956-present).

    In early 2016, he stated on leaving the EU that “It’s an act of cowardice really, it’s running away from issues instead of solving them.”

    Having reviewed and accepted the result, he announced that “The working class have voted and I support them. Let it be a nice exit. A truly brilliant British exit.”

  • Gavin Longmuir

    bobby b: “… only to the extent that we’ve stopped trying to speak to and convince those “Remoaners” and are instead aiming our speech at those who might fall in with the “Remoaners” …”

    Ah bobby! Don’t go changing. Leaving Natalie’s topic for the first time on this thread, I want to thank you for successfully persuading me to change my behavior — although you had no reason to be aware of it. I used to love the term “Warm-Mongers” to describe the leaders of the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam. But some comments you made on an earlier thread about how to persuade people made me realize that this kind of labelling was counter-productive, no matter how good it made me feel personally. If we start by saying something that might cause our target audience to switch off, we have already lost the battle to change their minds. Thank you for that good insight.

    Returning to Natalie’s topic — Thanks to you, bobby, I now realize the problem with using a derogatory label like “Remoaner” is the potential for collateral damage. There may be citizens who voted to stay in the EU but are in principle persuadable — however, if hearing someone use an unpleasant label like “Remoaner” causes them to switch off that person, the opportunity to change minds has gone — no matter how good the metaphor might be.

  • Paul Marks

    At the expense of the taxpayers (millions of Pounds) the government controlled by David Cameron and Gideon “George” Osborne told every household in Britain that independence from the European Union would be terrible – documents (filled with pro E.U. lies) were produced (at the expense of the taxpayers) and sent to every household – and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor (and every television station – bar “Fox News” which was still allowed in Britain at the the time) told the people that if we voted for independence the results would be utterly terrible.

    But we voted for independence anyway – we voted to LEAVE the European Union. We voted to make our own laws – not to have the “Common Rule Book” (“regulatory alignment”) of Theresa May (may-her-name-be-a-curse) and the other “Remainers” forced upon us.

    If the British people decide, after some years of independence, that we are unfit to govern ourselves and should be ruled by the European Union, then that is fair enough.

    But the vote for independence must first be carried out – we can not have a “second referendum” when we HAVE NOT CARRIED THE VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE OF THE FIRST REFERENDUM.

    We voted for independence some THREE YEARS ago – there can be no more possible excuse of “time to prepare” or a
    “transitional stage” – we must have independence NOW.

    Carry out the vote for independence – and then, if the British people decide they are unfit to rule themselves, we can have a “second referendum” after some years of independence.

    But we have not had ONE DAY of independence – the vote to leave the European Union in 2016 has NOT BEEN CARRIED OUT.

  • neonsnake

    and then, if the British people decide they are unfit to rule themselves, we can have a “second referendum” after some years of independence.

    I can only assume that you’d had a bad day, when you wrote that. If so, sorry about that. I hope today was better.

    It was one thing joining the EEC; we cannot countenance re-joining the EU in it’s current format. We might not be fit to govern ourselves on the showing of the shower of bastards currently in Parliament. All efforts need to be (if we ever actually bloody leave) on reforming ourselves.

  • […] at samizdata.net, Andrew Douglas had this to say in Comments about the post referendum polity in the […]

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Why not call people who want a second referendum, ‘Double-headers’, like a gambling coin? Heads I win, tails you lose!

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray (May 17, 2019 at 6:20 am), good idea, but the more precise analogy is “Heads I win, tails we toss again”. So I think ‘double-tossers’ is the better term. Unlike a double-headed penny, the first result can come up tails – but if it does, a double-tosser demands a second throw and to treat that result as counting (in theory – in practice, it’s ‘throw till we get heads’).

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