Last March I called for the commission to be scrapped in its current version with the money for the commission campaign instead distributed between the yes and no campaigns.
The McKenna case settled that public money cannot be used to promote a government’s campaign.
While I accept this was done to promote constitutional fairness, the current reality is that under the principle of ‘if you don’t know – vote no’, the Referendum Commission creates confusion and thereby increases the no support. This is a bizarre situation and needs to be addressed urgently.
If the Janus approach is consistently used and people are left feeling uninformed and confused as a result of a massive expenditure of public money, then clearly what we are doing is investing money to create failure.
During the course of the referendum campaign I am sure many people were as confused as I was as to why taxpayers’ money was being distributed by the commission on pencils and notepads advertising the date of the referendum. How did this explain anything about the treaty to the people? Can somebody explain what use an expensive ad campaign depicting severed bodies floating about in mid-air was to anyone?
Get The Full Picture? Not from the Referendum Commission.
Their information booklet left many people bamboozled and feeling less informed.
This country is now at a very difficult crossroads. Beyond here there be dragons. I wish to congratulate the no campaign for their victory, but as many of them were unelected and unaccountable, they didn’t have to worry about their claims and rarely had to worry about the commission pointing out the facts. As a result of its weakness the commission served, in effect, as the strongest servant of the no campaign.
Cllr Brian Collins
The Labour Party