EU Referendum: A look back to 1975, the AV Referendum and what will happen next?

AV Referendum count Civic Hall Wallasey May 2011 resized

EU Referendum: A look back to 1975, the AV Referendum and what will happen next?

The big political story that seems to completely dominate the news cycle now is the EU Referendum (in which Wirral Council are running the election here on the Wirral).

I was present six years ago at the count in Wallasey Town Hall for the AV Referendum (you can see below the photos I took) and it was obvious before the result was declared which way people felt on that issue.

AV Referendum count Civic Hall Wallasey May 2011 photo 2 resized
AV Referendum count Civic Hall Wallasey May 2011 photo 2 resized
AV Referendum count Civic Hall Wallasey May 2011 resized
AV Referendum count Civic Hall Wallasey May 2011 resized

However in around a fortnight we’ll know the outcome of the EU Referendum and I’ve seriously (although I’ve made my mind up which way I’m voting) no idea which way it’ll go.

The opinion polls are so close that the difference between remain and leave is within the margin of error of the poll. Essentially what this means is that the EU Referendum will be decided by people who haven’t made their mind up yet.

I am also sensing a generational divide in how people talk about the EU Referendum. My generation was born in a UK that was part of the EU. We have no personal experience of what it was like before the UK joined. We’ve never been asked to vote on it. We also never lived through a European war (apart from the Yugoslav wars).

The older generation (who are more likely to vote and pensioners also have the time to be politically active) still remember the horrors of World War II. Some of them lived through it. It was something that deeply affected them and their families.

Yet it was out of people who had known the horrors of war that the European dream was created. So what did the dreamers of the European dream want?

They wanted countries to work together for the common good, to respect human rights so the horrors that happened during two world wars wouldn’t happen again (or at least if any tried something similar they’d be punished), for European people to respect the rule of law, for there to be democracy, justice, free trade, to eradicate poverty* and to promote peace.

*No James, they didn’t want Wirral Council to bungle the handling of European money for economic regeneration.

Fine ideals in principle that not many would argue are a “bad idea”.

However either it hasn’t worked out quite how the idealists planned it to and/or Europe just gets a bad press in this country?

People in this country (including myself) campaigned against going into Iraq again in 2003 (yes I had a political past as an activist). I’m still not holding my breath over the publication of the Chilcot report, however I did at the time when I read the "dodgy dossier" describe it as propaganda, but as the cliché goes lessons need to be learnt (albeit 13 years after it happened). However that is besides the point.

The outcome of the AV Referendum on Wirral five years ago was very clear-cut.

Yes – 28,627 (28.1%)
No – 73,120 (71.9%)

It was a vote for keeping things the same, for the status quo. Lots of people had voted using first past the post for generations and even those pressing for voting reform really wanted STV (Single Transferable Vote) not AV (which was seen as a compromise).

However, back to the EU Referendum. Personally I don’t know what will happen next if a majority vote to leave. If truth be told, nobody really does. Predictions seem to be the verbal equivalent of crystal ball gazing dressed up in soundbites designed to arouse an emotional response from voters and attract press coverage.

For my generation a vote for the status quo, therefore the situation they’ve known all their lives is a vote to remain. For others who have known more of their life in the UK outside the EU the status quo is different.

So what was the result in 1975?

This was what was asked then (seems very similar to what’s been asked now really).

The Government has announced the results of the renegotiation of the United Kingdom’s terms of membership of the European Community.

Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?

Yes 17,378,581
No 8,470,073

The Tory infighting over this issue has however damaged them as a political party. To be fair though, they’re not the only political party that has been split on the European issue.

On the 23rd of this month when people will be voting in the polling stations I hope they will think through their decision.

Although I have made up which way I am voting, the choice is down to you (or at least the readers of this who have a vote or some influence in it). Think through what will happen next after the votes are counted.

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.

Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

7 thoughts on “EU Referendum: A look back to 1975, the AV Referendum and what will happen next?”

  1. G’day John

    If we vote out.

    I presume Europe will claw back the abused funds of wirral?

    I presume Europe will claw back all the abused funds of all the other clowncills that like wirral have just been big fat pigs in the big fat trough?



    1. I don’t think the outcome of the EU Referendum will affect that.

      No, you’d need the EU to fine the UK government for not monitoring it all properly.

      Then you’d need the UK government to claw it back from Wirral Council.

      However there’s been "political meddling" so the request for clawback was taken out of the final report.

      No clawback and it’s just another easily forgotten, toothless report that makes people ask themselves why they bother!?

      P.S. Wirral Council’s response may have been we’d only give you some of the grant back in clawback if they got sued and ended up with a court judgement that they couldn’t reasonably appeal. Considering how potentially embarrassing it all is I would guess all parties to it don’t want it to ever see a court room and are willing to make political deals behind the scenes to avoid public embarrassment and damage to both government body’s reputations instead.

  2. I never wanted to be in it in the first place, I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to leave, but the way this Country works if 99% of people voted out we would still stay in as the Government would fix it some how, Just think of all those MEP’s that would lose their jobs, and big fat wage packets that goes with it,
    As for the people who don’t know yet, they need a good kick up the arse! we’ve had 40+ years to know one way or another if we want in or out! don’t start thinking about it now!

    1. I know in some countries if the government gets the “wrong” result in their eyes in a referendum, they just keep holding referendums until they get the result they want!

      1. G’day John

        I know a clowncil that when it cocks up over say

        A couple of dim wits get away to Portugal with £2,000,000.00 of ill-gotten they just tell all the senior officers to stay quiet and if not pay them off until it goes away and bully the 66 ding bats into playing dumb.

        Wirral “Funny” Bizz is not going away until they do the right thing by all concerned.



        Doubt Wirralgate has the same stamina John?

        1. The European Arrest Warrant still applies to Portugal.

          However, the local police have already used their "no case to answer" stamp on this one. Maybe through collaborative purchasing Wirral Council and Merseyside Police got a discount on such stamps (I mean that with a heavy dose of sarcasm)?

          As to the 66 (or 65 as I know you’re a fan of Stuart Kelly), Cllr Kelly is off the Audit and Risk Management Committee replaced by Cllr Gilchrist.

          Crabtree is off to be replaced by Cllr Adrian Jones (now Chair). Last year’s Mayor Cllr Les Rowlands is on the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Vice-Chair has changed.

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