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Comments

Cllr Robin Millar

Expensive. Unnecessary. Unworkable. Damaging. The only merit of this policy lies in an academic discussion.

The reason a system has developed where people "give up power" for all but one day every five years is that most people are willing to let others do a job they don't want to.

When an issue does come up, most people are not interested in the process or even doing the politician's job - other than as a means to an end. They only want the bypass built (or not), the development stopped, the view preserved, the hospital saved etc.

Have people changed? No. Have politicians lost people's trust? Maybe - but referenda are not the answer.

John Moss

Hmmm?

So lets say Trevor Brooks and his mates organise 500,000 signatures on a petition to introduce Sharia Law, with all its homophobic, racist, sexist and barabric consequences.

They lose the vote, obviously, but then they claim persecuted status under article 9 of the Human Rights act and - having had their legitimate "difference of thought" proved in the referendidumdeda, a sympathetic judge says that the UK Govt cannot stop them from living their lives in that way.

It might highlight the issue of the mediaeval character of Sharia, but it will do little for community relations.

No, I think our "representative" governemnt is a far more liberal thing than the delegatory system this would introduce.

Opinicus

@Cllr Millar
It is none of your adjectives and as several people have pointed out works very well in Switzerland already.
Voters who are uninterested in the topic will not vote but there are plenty of subjects where the voters ARE interested and the politicians are not. It is for these policy areas that referenda are vital.

@John Moss
But you are forgetting that if this is adopted one of the first referendum for which I will be collecting 500000 signatures is to withdraw from the Human Rights Convention.
Our representative government is certainly more Liberal than letting voters express their direct opinions. That is three-quarters of the point of the policy for those conservatives here. It is precisely to bypass the fix of liberal consensus that infests the media and parliament by appealing over their heads and empowering individual voters. Real democracy not the elective dictatorship of parliamentary democracy.

Jerry

You are all deluding yourselves as usual if you think that referendums are an option. While we are in the EU we are under the control of unelected EU commisioners and bureacrats. They make all the regulations and our so called elected representatives (MP,s and MEP,s) have NO say in their production. Hence when you vote Labour Lib Dem or Conservative at the next general election you will have ABSOLUTELY no say and no control over most of the laws imposed upon us. How can you possibly believe that a referendum underthese conditions will have any effect. The only referendum we need is the one on whheter we want to stay in the EU. Guess what, it will never happen under the three parties currently in Westminster.

James Dey

@Jerry. I believe the debate is whether we are truly represented by our 'representative' UK democracy or not. It's not about how democratic, the EU is or not. One of the first referendums held could be whether we want to a member of the EU or not.

Arguments have been put forward that the masses often make the wrong decisions. This is true, but say that the public votes to exclude all immigrants, for example, then the businesses fail and other countries refuse to trade with us or allow us to visit their countries, then the public will be educated in the consequences of their actions. Sure, things would be unstable for a while, but eventually a concensus on major issues would be obtained. The mistrust at the moment is that the electorate were lied to over Iraq, and still haven't been provided with the true reasons, and the last 2 Tory and New Labour governments have been heavily influenced by big business (e.g. Enterprise act allegedly forbids a public authority from informing a complainant whether they will investigate a rogue business or not, The Financial Services Authority is a limited company managed and funded by the financial services industry, they're supposed to regulate, cash for honours, tobacco advertising, favourable tax treatment of non-domicile rich people etc.) It's highly unlikely that any of these policies would have come to pass in a direct democracy. There may be unintended consequences e.g. businesses may be deterred from moving to the UK unless they can rip off consumers, rich people may not fund public services unless they can gain power. I, for one, would like to see for myself what these consequences are, rather than being stonewalled by bureaucrats and my elected 'representatives'.

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