Discussions of opinions on the prospect of there being a second referendum, after we win the first, have been prominent in recent days and people have asked for guidance in how to discuss this while campaigning.
It begins with the observation that in many EU-referendums in other countries there is a second referendum when the electorate get the answer wrong. There is a European Fundamental Human right to a re-sit in case of such an unfortunate error.
Electorates can react in two different ways when this becomes part of the debate ahead of their own referendum.
The first way is in despair. They realise that they will be required to vote again and again until they get the nswer right so they give up and, realising the hopelessness of their undemocratic life, comply to save the expense and bother.
The other reaction, the one that has been assumed by everyone in our own debate, is the hopeful one. People realise they will be asked again and see it as an opportunity: inevitably the EU will have to offer some kind of concession to secure a deal.
This can be a major problem for the EU. The EU is very unpopular and knows that a large chunk of the people who will vote for Remain will do so out of fear. The knowledge that an out vote will not mean an immediate out, but will be subject to a 56 day cooling off period, takes the sense of risk out of an expression of opposition. It makes a leave vote much more likely. Again, a point that has escaped some eurosceptics.
The most important point, and it is one that has escaped some eurosceptics, is that to have or not have a second referendum is not in the gift of the independence campaign. It is the EU at the level of national govenors that decide.
There are a number of difficulties.
First of all, no one ever gets much of a concession, it is more that the EU and government have almoset infinite resources to fight referendum campaigns, limited only by the depth of the taxpayers pocket, while the people will be exhausted by one campaign and almost certainly could not go to a third.
Then there is the problem that the Government know that we know there will be a second referendum. And they are well aware of the dangers. They will, as David Cameron has done, seek to persuade peopel that there will not be a second referendum at all and that the electorate should remain frightened.
Those eurosceptics who insist there must only be one referendum and that out must mean out hold a respectable position. It is that we can win this in one decisive battle. This in itself has many weaknesses. Not least is that, for those who advocate leaving under article 50 of Lisbon, a pro-EU executive is left in charge of the negotiations of our exit. It also makes the winning of the referendum more dificult in the first place but his does not matter to those who were always convinced a referendum could easily be won.
The scenario of losing the second referendum should not alarm eurosceptics as much as it might seem at first. If, and we must admit it is a big if, meaningful concessions of any sort at all were granted, it could set in train a series of small victories over coming years that led , by incrememts, to a real victory. Usually, this is how revolutions have happened in the past.
An exception to the "referendum re-sit" must be noted: the French voted against the EU-constitution. This was taken away and re-named The Lisbon Treaty and, since this was an entirely different name, did not bother to even hold a second referendum.
When the electorate suffer from false consciousness, a referendum in inappropriate.
In an ideal world, the government would respect the will of the people and govern in the interests of the people. But we are not living on Planet Ideal, are we?