Don't blame non-voters over a question we shouldn't have been asked

PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 12 November 2018

67% of people didn't vote to leave the European Union. A banner at the People's Vote March. Photograph: Jono Read.

67% of people didn't vote to leave the European Union. A banner at the People's Vote March. Photograph: Jono Read.


CATHERINE WILSON says that the Brexit referendum question was too complex for the nation and non-voters should not be blamed for not heading to the polls.

Your correspondent Sally Mays (The New European, edition 118) quotes from a letter written by her father in 1974, at the time of the first EU referendum. He expressed the opinion that complex matters like this should be decided by MPs as they have been elected to come to informed decisions on behalf of their constituents.

Evidently this used to be a common attitude. In his autobiography, former Labour MP Tam Dalyell tells how he asked a constituent which way he should vote in parliament on a particular issue. The man replied that he should not be expected to know; that his MP is paid to make difficult decisions on his behalf.

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When did this attitude change to the idea that complex decisions should be made by the ordinary voter? The question of us being in the EU, as we are now painfully experiencing, is complicated and involves considerable boring detail.

Not everyone had the time to do research. People I know say they didn’t vote because they didn’t understand the issues, an intelligent response in my view. They are hard-working individuals with children to care for. They are not politically engaged; they were just getting on with their busy lives, assuming that the conditions that enable them to do so would not change. They have no axe to grind. They cannot understand why we had to have a referendum about something that for them is a non issue.

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It shocks me that these decent people’s lives are likely to become more difficult and limited because of the ideological obsessions of a minority of the population. They may not vote, but they do pay tax and are raising the next generation. Shouldn’t their needs be considered in this crucial decision?

Catherine Wilson, Landdeusant

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