THE BLOG

We Can Have a Better Referendum - Let's Make It Happen

14/03/2016 13:24 GMT | Updated 12/03/2017 09:12 GMT

If you feel left out in the cold by the EU referendum debate, you're not on your own.

Last week the Electoral Reform Society launched new polling showing that just 16% of people feel well-informed about the EU referendum.

It's a fairly shocking indictment on the state of the debate - one which has been dominated by personality politics, rumours of spats and internal party splits, and off-putting negative bickering between the two campaigns.

The British public deserve a better referendum than that. So it's time to do something about it.

The launch of the BMG Research polling - the shocking findings on the #EUref's knowledge gap - was covered by The Sun, The Times, CityAM in London and The Herald in Scotland, and was featured on ITV and Radio 4 too. There's lots more to say and lots more work on this referendum to come.

It reflects an appetite among voters who want to see a positive campaign that deals with the issues - not a Westminster parlour game dramatized by journalists in Fleet Street.

Crucially, they want the facts, they want a balanced debate, and they need a space to discuss this in an informed way - both online and offline.

Yet, surprisingly, there's currently nowhere to do this - to get all the facts and the main arguments on both sides, and then to debate them. So we're going to take up the mantle.

We're going to set up an online tool - a hub for both quality information and discussion for voters to make up their minds, away from the 'he said/she said' petty gossip of the campaign thus far.

And it will enable voters to set up local meetings with others in their area to discuss the referendum and the real issues - so that we have a truly grassroots conversation in the run up to June. After all, why should we accept less than the highest quality public debate? One where everyone feels informed, not just that lucky one-in-six?

But to create that the ERS have to raise £5,000 in order to design, set up and run this democratic hub for the rest of the campaign. So we've launched a crowdfunding campaign.

That money needs to be raised by May 5th - the date of the local, Scottish Parliamentary and Assembly elections.

After that, it's full steam ahead on the EU referendum campaign - and voters need to have the choices laid out in a clear and impartial way.

So, help to create THE definitive source of facts and debate on the referendum, and the only space to set up a real grassroots conversation.

We can have a better referendum. Now let's make it happen.