Arguments for and against the wider use of referendums in the UK

Gabrielle Hamer
Mind Map by Gabrielle Hamer, updated more than 1 year ago
Gabrielle Hamer
Created by Gabrielle Hamer over 6 years ago
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Referendums in the UK

Resource summary

Arguments for and against the wider use of referendums in the UK
  1. Key
    1. For
      1. Against
      2. They're inconsistent with out system of parliamentary govt
        1. Undermine representative democracy by allowing governments to duck their responsibility to govern
          1. Tyranny of the majority
        2. Regular use could lead to apathy and low turnouts that might distort the results e.g. the turnout for the Welsh Assembly was only 50.1%
          1. Tyranny of the organised minority
          2. Decisions are not always considered final. Governments sometimes go back again until they get what they want e.g Scottish parliament refs
            1. Undermine CCR e.g. during ref campaigns like that of 1975, CCR is suspended over the issue in question in order to allow full public debate.
              1. Most issues are too complicated to be condensed into a simple yes/no question. For example, should the question of joining the Euro be left to the public or economic experts?
                1. Funding differentials can mean the referendum is not fought on an equal playing field
                  1. 'yes' better funded in 1975
                  2. Govts can schedule and phrase referendums in a way that makes their more favourable result more likely
                    1. E.g. in 1975 - a more neutral question would've prevented people from following the 'status quo'
                    2. Offer a more direct form of democracy. they encourage participation by allowing citizens to have a real input into the decisions that matter to them.
                      1. Provide a way of focusing or renewing the mandate on a particular issue
                        1. Legitimise major constitutional changes e.g. refs held ahead of the creation of the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly.
                          1. Could be used to provide a clear and final answer where parliament is deadlocked.
                            1. Could provide a method for resolving tricky moral questions
                              1. Can prevent dangerous divisions within political parties over controversial issues - prevents govts from collapsing and provides greater continuity in governments
                                1. e.g. 1975 EEC membership & Labour cabinet
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