• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The UK would benefit greatly from the wider use of referendums. Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


The UK would benefit greatly from the wider use of referendums. Discuss. A referendum is a form of direct democracy involving a public vote on some single issue of public policy. It is a means of presenting a question of importance for a popular consideration and decision. There are many arguments both for and against the wider use of referendums. The use of referendums was greatly favoured by Blair and his new Labour government in 1997. Labour took the view that the device is a democratic one in that it gives the people a direct voice in decision making so that any decision made acquires legitimacy because it has popular approval. Blair remarked in 1995 " in the case of constitutional change there is clearly a case for that decision to be taken by the British people". Further arguments for referendums is that they are not just democratic but are a means of saving democracy with which some people have become disenchanted. ...read more.


This was shown by the way in which the 1975 referendum on UK membership of the EEC minimized the damage done by divisions within the Labour Cabinet. An additional pro-referendum argument is that they resolve issues in such a way that there is a final or at least long-term solution. The 1979 referendums resolved the devolution issue for 20 years. However, they are also many arguments against the wider use of referendums. Firstly, they are inconsistent with representative democracy and undermine the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. In addition, far from encouraging participation regular use of referendums could lead to apathy and low turnouts that might distort the results. For example, the turnout in the 1997 referendum over the creation of a Welsh assembly was only 50%. In extreme cases this can result in the tyranny of an organized minority. In addition, they undermine collective responsibility in a cabinet. For instance during the referendum such as that in 1975 collective responsibility is suspended over the issue in question in order to allow full public debate of the issues involved. ...read more.


For example the creation of the a Scottish parliament was put to the vote twice, in 1979 and 1977. In recent years referendums have been employed much more widely in most parts of the world. For example, in Eire a 1995 referendum legalized divorce. In addition, in Switzerland which averages four referendums a year, the people approved a decision to join the UN by 55% to 45% in 2002. Despite this referendums are believed by some to be incompatible with the UK system of government. In the 1940s Clement Attlee described referendums as "a device alien to all our traditions". This statement reflects the fact that the UK is a "representative" democracy and the commitment that Britain has to the idea of parliamentary sovereignty, only parliament can cast a decisive vote on any issue. Therefore, within a representative democracy, referendums would appear to be at best unnecessary and at worst unhelpful. In addition the lack of established constitutional guidelines for the use of referendums as exists in Italy and Switzerland ensures that a significant degree of scepticism remains about the role of referendums in the UK. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Miscellaneous essays

  1. Problem Solution: Foundation Schools

    The project life cycle and decision matrix will also assist in reaching their desired goals. Ultimately, it is a blueprint for success but does not always guarantee it. By making adjustments and hiring a new project manager, Foundation Schools has a great opportunity to meet the needs of each stakeholder

  2. Brand Building and Loyalty in Emerging Economics

    In terms of service marketing, a brand is usually taken in terms of a promise. A brand is the promise of the package of the characteristics that a person buys. The characteristics that are included in a brand might be based on reason or emotional, it might be invisible or

  1. Legalising Prostitution in Britain

    * How and by whom was the research funded? * To what extent does the topic dictate or align with methodology? * Are issues of access and ethics clear? * From what foundations are the definitions of science and truth derived?

  2. Customer experience management in UK higher education

    Merchants had fewer customers and most were local. Recordkeeping was finished in the merchant's head or in a straightforward ledger. Merchants knew who their clients were and what they wanted. (Emiliani 2006 363) In the last 20 years, the super shop notion, the internet, the increase of the suburbs, and expanded consumer mobility, have made the customer relationship more complex.

  1. Distinguish between direct and representative democracy

    An example of a decision past involving only the government; is the decision to invade Iraq, many citizens of Britain felt outraged and the governments decision on this case and many lost their respect on the labour party and especially Tony Blair.

  2. Contemporary Construction - Economics and Finance

    Labour, from semi-skilled, skilled, technicians to professionals will be scarce due to the concentration of labour to the Olympics. Enterprises with no and or not enough manpower will be useless or will be producing low quality products. 3. Capital Capital consists of equipment, plant, construction materials, machinery and other commodities needed for construction.

  1. Investigating The Use of Pectinase

    they are widely used in the fruit juice industry, where they are commonly used to help extract, clarify and modify fruit juices. The commercial uses of pectinases include the clarification of wines/juices and aiding the disintegration of fruit pulps. This is done by reducing the large pectin molecules into smaller


    the research to happen, not to give consent for the children to participate - this must be gained from a parent or legal guardian. There are other issues, which may arise when trying to obtain consent, such as the fact that parental responsibility is not automatically given to fathers unless

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work