New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
14 March 2013

The Returning Officer: Referendum

By Stephen Brasher


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.”

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