Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"Purdah" rules for EU referendum to be rethought

Yesterday the Electoral Commission changed their advice on the wording of the forthcoming referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union. The government almost immediately announced that they will introduce an amendment to the referendum bill to comply with the new advice.

Today the government has indicated that it will also review how the "Purdah" rules, designed to prevent the government machinery from being deployed to support either side in the referendum, will be applied.

The original draft of the bill would have completely suspended those rules, but a government source told the BBC:

"There will be a pretty significant shift in the government position. There is no wish within the government to be in a position where doubt is cast on the fairness of the referendum. It has got to be fair. And it has got to be seen to be fair."

Government amendments to the bill will be published on Wednesday so there is time for MPs to consider them before debating and voting on them next Monday, which will provide for campaign restrictions "with exceptions" designed to ensure that the government is not prevented from dealing with EU business during the referendum period.


Jim said...

Well, it looks like there will be a shift in the correct direction, but not a full reinstatement of the purdah rules.

Jim said...

Even though, I still feel like I am missing something here, Look I am a skeptic, I dont just mean on matters EU, I mean with the government in general, a cinic if you will.

so I need to ask why did DC fold on the question so easily, and why now on the purdah rules?

I am wondering what is the ace up Mr Camerons sleeve? - I have the feeling he is going to sell "associate membership" as the REMAIN option, but I just feel I have to be missing something, Only wish i could tell what that something is, but as of yet, I can't.

I played poker long enough to know that he did fold too easily on the previous, so..........CHECK.

lets go another round...............

I really don't know

Chris Whiteside said...

The answer to why DC responded so quickly on the question is very simple - the government had always intended to follow as much as possible of the advice of the Electoral Commission, and don't forget, the Commission had suggested the question which was originally proposed, but changed their recommendation this week following further research.

I suspect many people have no idea what Purdah means but enough have watched "Yes Minister" or have observed or been on the receiving end of enough leading questions, that there is a pretty broad understanding that you can rig a survey or referendum by carefully slanting the question asked.

For that reason the government would almost certainly have been determined to avoid giving even the briefest impression that they were refusing to follow impartial advice on what the question should be, and hence agreed to amend the bill to bring the proposed wording into line with the new advice within half an hour of the Electoral Commission changing their advice about what the wording should be.

Jim said...

fair enough, but the fold on the purdah rule exemption?

I have figured that associate membership is the key to appearing as though its a negotiation. I also think they will go to great lengths to call it anything other than "associate membership", though that is most likely what it will be called following the next treaty.

I can see this one going to a two stage, that is a referendum in 2017, then another following the new treaty as a sort of cementing vote, which of course will be after 2020, so there is an election issue.

It currently seems to me like DC is ditching his "negotiation" sell, and going for a "wait and see" approach, which hinges on the new treaty.

the new treaty being the "inner" and "outer core" or more simply eurozone and none euro zone states. but in the end, a little scrutiny shows it as the "fast train" and the "slow train" to the same destination - ever closer union.

Im thinking it will be left until very late in the day to announce this great wait and see plan, under any name other than "associate membership", and that is why I can't see why fold so easily on purdah.