The Returning Officer: Referendum


The first editor of the New Statesman, Clifford Dyce Sharp, had worked with A R Orage on the New Age and then edited The Crusade, the magazine of Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s National Campaign for the Prevention of Destitution. 
A longtime Fabian, in 1911 he published one of their tract series, The Case Against the Referendum. He noted that while opposition parties tend to favour referendums, “the party in power is always hostile to it”, and that the Tories referred to it as “the national veto” – an opportunity to wreck progressive legislation already passed in parliament. 
In a vote on Irish Home Rule, he argued that the only opinion that mattered was that of the Irish and “the electors of Great Britain would not contribute to the right solution in the slightest degree.”

This article first appeared in the 11 March 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The audacity of popes

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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