Talk:Referendum Party

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I seem to remember a Conservative mp joined the Referendum party a few weeks before the 1997 election, which meant that they had representation in parliment without anyone ever voting for them. Don't remember his name though. Saul Taylor 11:03, 4 Jan 2004 (UTC)

You're right - I've managed to find a brief mention of it in an old internet article. The MP's name was George Gardiner. I've added it to the page. -- Vardion 13:08, 4 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Election box metadata[edit]

This article contains some sub-pages that hold metadata about this subject. This metadata is used by the Election box templates to display the color of the party and its name in Election candidate and results tables.

These links provide easy access to this meta data:


Why did the referendum party, which was strongly opposed to the EU on every scale, assist with ousting so many Conservative MPs, who generally were the most Eurosceptic of the big three? Why was James Goldsmith cheering in Putney, when he had just helped put a new Blairite into Westminster, who would also vote on all that the Referendum party hated, such as the Social Chapter of the Maastrict Treaty for instance.

Anyone have any thoughts?

I'll tell you why![edit]

I think you have missed the point of what we did in the election of 97. Irrespective of who lost and gained seats the whole point of the exercise was to promote a referendum and candidates were put in constituencies where the sitting MP would not support that idea. This therefore gave his constituents the opportunity to register their protest at not being offered the opportunity to have a vote on some crucial issues affecting the country. I don't think many Referendum candidates actually expected to win a seat and, at the time, didn't really care who won the seat. The important thing for me was that we helped to stimulate the debate and forced Blair to concede that we would not go into the single currency without a referendum. If my memory serves me well this was an announcement made during the election campaign to try to deflect our demand for a full referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU. I know this was only a small part of our objectives but a small victory non the less. Secondly I would just like to refer to the main article which states "Goldsmith vowed that the party would continue after the 1997 election...". I feel sure I can remember him catergorically stating that he had no intention of continuing as a party after the election. I am happy to be corrected but I am sure this was not the case.

The only "slight" flaw with the focus on the single currency is that all the main parties had already conceded a referendum on the single currency about a year before the election and the Referendum Party was calling for a wider referendum on "a co-operation of nations vs a superstate" (and from recollection were not fussing too much about putting the option "get out" to the people). Indeed after the Conservatives declared there would be a referendum before entry into the single currency the Referendum Party ran posters saying "Why not John? Why can't we have a proper referendum on Europe, Mr Major?" Timrollpickering 18:19, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

That was my point Tim. We were calling for the wider referendum, but all the parties announced referendums on the single currency after the Referendum Party was formed to deflect from our wider aims and give the impression that what we were doing was pintless. The party was formed more than a year before the 1997 election. I was working with them for at least 18 months before the election. I suppose the main achievement was that even now we still have that promise from all the main parties however much I'm sure they would love to take us in. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:54, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Plural of "referendum"[edit]

The plural used across Wikipedia is "referendums" - see Category:Referendums, the sub-categories Category:Referendums by year, Category:Referendums by country, and the related article Referendums related to the European Union. The plural form has been made consistent across Wikipedia.

Referendum#Terminology says the following:

Referendums and referenda are both commonly used as plurals of referendum. However, the use of referenda is deprecated by the Oxford English Dictionary which advises that:
Referendums is logically preferable as a plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund, referendum has no plural). The Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning things to be referred, necessarily connotes a plurality of issues.

"Referendums" is in no way inaccurate usage. Timrollpickering 10:32, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

"called for referendums on aspects of the UK's relationship with the European Union" - this implies different referenda on separate issues with the UK's relationship with the EU, i.e. a plurality of issues - hence, referenda is the correct term. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ray gillespie (talkcontribs) 22:08, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

So why isn't it used elsewhere on Wikipedia? One plural should be used, not multiples. Timrollpickering 22:36, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
I think the point Ray is making is that the Referendum Party called for a single occasion on which multiple issues were submitted to the electorate, on which the term 'referenda' is "less wrong" than when it is used to refer to several occasions on which individual issues were submitted. However, this is still not really appropriate, not least because the Referendum Party's platform was not in fact to submit multiple issues. They actually published their question:
Do you want the UK to be part of a federal Europe?
Or do you want the UK to return to an association of sovereign nations that are part of a common trading market?
Where Ray is on to a good point (if he realises it!) is that the Referendum Party's publications invariably used the plural 'referenda'. Sam Blacketer 22:47, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Referendum Party voting discrepancies[edit]

This is also posted on the Talk:United Kingdom general election, 1997 page. Please respond there.

There is a discrepancy between figures given on this page and the Referendum Party page for the number of votes received and the nuber of seats contested, i.e.:

Wikipedia Referendum Party: 810,231 votes from 546 seats
Wikipedia United Kingdom general election, 1997: 811,849 votes from 547 seats

External sources give other figures, e.g.:

UK Political Info: 811,849 votes
Politics resources: 810,860 votes from 547 seats
Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, Revolt on the Right, p30 and p56. Routledge (2014): 547 seats
Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell, Bridget Taylor and Katarina Thompson, Euroscepticism and the Referendum Party (CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO ELECTIONS AND SOCIAL TRENDS, February 1998): 547 seats
Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: 547 seats

Anyone have anything definitive? (I suspect the 547 seats is the most likely.) I do seem to remember that one seat had a delayed election because of the death of a candidate - was that 1997? - and that could explain some of the discrepancy (only 846 results announced on election day, and lower total votes) but this would not explain at leasy three voting total. Emeraude (talk) 12:23, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Referendum Party/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Vanamonde93 (talk · contribs) 05:32, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

  • I'll take this one. Feel free to quibble with any of my points. Vanamonde (talk) 06:02, 28 June 2017 (UTC)


GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it well written?
    A. The prose is clear and concise, and the spelling and grammar are correct:
    All prose issues have been addressed.
    B. It complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation:
  2. Is it verifiable with no original research?
    A. It contains a list of all references (sources of information), presented in accordance with the layout style guideline:
    No issues
    B. All in-line citations are from reliable sources, including those for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelines:
    Solid, solid sources throughout.
    C. It contains no original research:
    No issues
    D. It contains no copyright violations nor plagiarism:
    Earwig's tool flags only quotations; spot checks find nothing except mirrors.
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. It addresses the main aspects of the topic:
    Main aspects have been covered.
    B. It stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style):
    No extraneous material
  4. Is it neutral?
    It represents viewpoints fairly and without editorial bias, giving due weight to each:
  5. Is it stable?
    It does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute:
    No issues with stability
  6. Is it illustrated, if possible, by images?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    Image licensing checks out to the best of my knowledge
    B. Images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
    Caption issues fixed
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
    Solid article, all my comments have been addressed.


  • I think the election results image needs to explain the colours in some manner, whether it's just by describing the Ref. Party's results, the major colours, or all the colours. To a person outside the UK, the various colours don't have the same significance as they do outside.
  • A very valid point. I will add mention of what the colours mean. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:14, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Much better, but can we have the parentheses as a second sentence? It's long enough that it makes the rest confusing.
  • "he was also critical when the EU signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade" could this be rephrased? It's not incorrect, but "he was critical of X" reads a lot easier.
  • Perhaps "previous" in place of " pre-existing".
  • I've gone with "prior", which I think is better than both "previous" and "pre-existing" here. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:14, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
  • I'm wondering if the paragraph beginning "The UK's ratification of the Maastricht Treaty" would fit better in the next subsection. You could then split off a sub-section called "membership" or something, to address the length issue.
  • I'm not sure if this paragraph really belongs in "Ideology and early growth" because it does not actually deal with the party or its early growth. For that reason, I'd be hesitant about moving it. That being said, I agree it does not sit perfectly where it is currently located. Midnightblueowl (talk) 18:32, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Okay, how's this. You currently have nine paragraphs in the "Formation" section, six of which are in the "Ideology and early growth". Try it this way: create two sub-sections under "Formation", titled "Background and ideology" and "early growth". "Background and ideology" can contain paragraphs 3, 1, 2, and 4, in that order. "Early growth" can contain the rest, though I would suggest merging paragraph 9 into paragraph 7.
  • That could work. I've made the suggested rearrangements. Midnightblueowl (talk) 13:05, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • " although the point was raised that some of these individuals" Raised by whom?
  • Having reread the sentence, I think that the best thing here is just to delete "the point was raised" from it. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:22, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • If Carter is a scholar, maybe helpful to say that.
  • This is totally optional at the GA level, but the last paragraph of "Formation" (para 9 from above) could use a footnote explaining how the MP could remain an MP despite his branch not backing him. In many countries switching parties is enough to make a person lose their seat.
  • That's a good point. However, I'm not really sure where to find a reliable source that actually explains this point. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:24, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • "The funding for each candidate's official campaign was funded entirely by the party centre." The funding...was funded."?
  • 'Goldsmith talking directly to the camera." What did he say? A brief sentence would be adequate, I think.
  • "the Referendum Party stood in 547 constituencies" Perhaps "candidates of the Referendum party..."
  • "None were in Northern Ireland, where Goldsmith had established an agreement with the Ulster Unionist Party that he would not stand candidates against them" I find this rather confusing, to be honest...probably easier to say "Goldsmith had established...under the terms of which..."
  • I've gone with the following: "None of these candidates were in Northern Ireland. This was because Goldsmith had made an agreement with Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party that he would not field any candidates against them if their one MEP joined his Europe of Nations grouping in the European Parliament, something that ensured that the grouping remained large enough to retain its Parliamentary funding.". What do you think of this change? Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:16, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • " the issue of EU fishing quotas." What might that issue be?
  • I've changed the wording to "who were angry with the restrictions imposed by EU fishing quotas". Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:55, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • "cannot be considered the only factor." Rather heavy use of editorial voice...
  • I've changed this sentence to the following: "The reasons for their electoral decline were many and the impact of the Referendum Party was not the only factor". Hopefully this deals with the issue of editorial voice. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:07, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • You use "et al" in one case, but spell out four authors in another: why? If there's four of them, maybe shorten to "a paper" or "scholars".
  • I'm wondering about the use Zac Goldsmith's statement; he wouldn't be a reliable source in any case, and he has an obvious conflict of interest...were there any responses to his statement?
  • Not that I am aware of. Given that the opinion piece is published in The Spectator, I would have thought that this counts as a reliable source of sorts. Midnightblueowl (talk) 11:58, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Well...yes, the source is reliably for reporting his statement, but the fact remains that he is essentially saying "look my dad was a bigger deal than everybody thinks he is". Even so, we could report it if independent commentators had taken any note of his opinion; as is, though, I'd just remove it.
Fair enough. Removed. Midnightblueowl (talk) 10:27, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Honestly I'd remove that external link; with very little in the article body about that "successor", I'm not sure it serves much purpose, and indeed may be seen as giving that party undue attention.
  • Although Emeraude has contested the removal and restored the wording... Midnightblueowl (talk) 23:10, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Okay, I think I'm done here: solidly written article throughout, interesting and well-presented material as always, just these quibbles to be dealt with. But I'm more or less starting my Wikibreak after this edit (I actually thought I'd have to leave a few hours ago) so passing may have to wait until I come back in a few days' time. Regards, Vanamonde (talk) 14:08, 30 June 2017 (UTC)
  • I think that I've responded to everything, Vanamonde. Many thanks for taking the time to review this article and offer your thoughts. Hope that your Wikibreak was enjoyable and constructive! Midnightblueowl (talk) 20:32, 2 July 2017 (UTC)

Terrible lead (in fine details)...[edit]

I have tried once to reform the lead section. May we accept my edits? These are:

  1. The statistics stated should have totals for context (those I have given are inherently neutral and informative to foreign readers especially)
  2. The article states "members" but the same paragraph denies the party ever had "members".
  3. The word anti-EU would summarise a pro-French person such as Goldsmith rather than repeatedly calling him and the party Eurosceptic, when it wanted free trade. If it was xenophobic or anti-free immigration then that should be put in and not beaten about the bush...

Clearly whoever has given this article featured status has not considered these points... They may have been caught up in Brexit hysteria!- Adam37 Talk 16:41, 18 November 2017 (UTC)

I'm not opposed to alterations to the lede in principle, but the edit in question ([1]) introduced a plethora of new problems and thus necessitated reversion. Bear in mind that this article was read through extensively at GAN and FAC, so a lot of eyes have already looked at it; any significant changes will need Talk Page scrutiny before being introduced. As for your three points, I am in agreement with the first two, and have no objection to the total number of seats in Parliament being added nor to the use of "members" being replaced with "supporters" or "supporters and candidates". As for the third point, I am unconvinced. "Eurosceptic" has long been held to refer to opposition to the European Union, not xenophobia against continental Europeans; indeed one can see this from reading out Euroscepticism article. Moreover, WP:Reliable Sources cited in this article refer to the party as Eurosceptic, so we have no basis on which to reject that categorisation. Midnightblueowl (talk) 16:48, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Well 2 uncontroversial points are then accepted. As to the 3rd, "eurosceptic", it is a counter-intuitive term as you define it anti-EU, most of these people that dabbled in this old party appear pro-European and I am old enough to remember both terms (pro-European and eurosceptic) being bandied around in direct opposition to each other. If you mean anti-EU why not say so. I like to call a road drill a road drill, not a ground-threatening implement.- Adam37 Talk 17:08, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
"Euroscepticism" is not an obscure term. It is the well-established and widely recognised word used to describe opposition to the European Union. You'll find it throughout the academic literature and the mainstream media discussing the Referendum Party and related issues; indeed, it is even fairly common within popular discourse. That is why we employ it here at Wikipedia rather than seeking to create our own synonyms. Midnightblueowl (talk) 17:21, 18 November 2017 (UTC)

Years active[edit]

This article says that the Referendum Party was active from 1994 to 1997. I would question whether this is accurate, as I am sure that they contested seats in the 1992 election in the United Kingdom. Vorbee (talk) 18:12, 22 December 2017 (UTC)

All of the WP:Reliable sources state that the Referendum Party was founded in 1994. Are you perhaps confusing it with the Anti-Federalist League, which was founded in 1991 and had a similar Eurosceptic platform? Midnightblueowl (talk) 22:17, 22 December 2017 (UTC)

Number of members/supporters[edit]

The article said, "Although not offering party membership, it claimed to have 160,000 registered "supporters", an exaggerated number." A editor has recently deleted the last three words, with the comment "according to whom?" Fair point, but where does the figure of 160,000 itself come from. I cannot find it anywhere, and while it is almost certainly the case that Goldsmith exaggerated the number of "supporters" I have not been able to find a reliable number. For example:

"200,000 registered supporters" (David Hass, "The Referendum Party's Video Mailer Strategy, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol 17, 1997 - Issue 4)
"claimed 230,00 registered supporters" (David Butler, Dennis Kavanagh, The British General Election of 1997, p 72)
"reportedly had some 230,000 registered supporters" ("Tories Take Back Referendum Rebels", BBC Politics 97)

And, from his son and totally unreliably,

"more than 300,000 fully audited members" (Zac Goldsmith, "How my dad saved Britain", The Spectator, 28 February 2015)

The only reference to members/supporters which makes much sense is that:

"a significant number of its members were openly mad"! (John Lanchester, "Brexit Blues", London Review of Books, Vol. 38 No. 15, 28 July 2016, pages 3-6)

Can anyone come up with a reliably sourced and consistent figure, either for how many it claimed or, better yet, how many it actually had? Emeraude (talk) 08:15, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

The article presently states: "By February 1997, the party claimed that it had 160,000 registered supporters, although some of these individuals had only requested information about it and had not actively registered as "supporters"." This in turn is cited to page 473 of Carter, Neil; Evans, Mark; Alderman, Keith; Gorham, Simon (1998). "Europe, Goldsmith and the Referendum Party". Parliamentary Affairs. 51 (3). pp. 470–485. Checking that page number, it states: "By February 1997 the party claimed 160,000 registered supporters, but that figure apparently included many who had simply requested information about it." Not a great deal to go on, I'm afraid, but it is an RS. Midnightblueowl (talk) 12:02, 16 October 2019 (UTC)
Thanks. I couldn't get access to that source through JSTOR. It does seem to suggest, though, that the original "an exaggerated number" was correct. I approve of your amendment. Emeraude (talk) 13:03, 16 October 2019 (UTC)