Referendums and Pressure Groups in the UK.

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To what extent should referendums be used more widely in the UK?

Referendums are a form of direct democracy which allows the electorate to vote for or against a singular issue. The most recent referendum was in 2014 for Scottish independence in which the outcome was no.

Referendums can offer a clear answer to a political dead lock as well as influence politicians as to what the people desire such as the 1975 referendum on leaving the European Economic Community. This helps to renew mandate due to the answers given. They increase turn out with the 2014 Scottish referendum having a 90% turn out. This eliminates protest or tactical voting as it is a clear issue which is not on party policy. This direct democracy allows for constitutional or moral issues which make the electorate feel more involved. The participation on controversial issues allows for more people to want to get involved.

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Alternatively, referendums undermine our representative government. Former prime minister Attlee (1945-51) said referendums are “devices alien to our tradition” and “instruments of demogues and dictators” in which referendums are able to manipulate the electorate. The main example of this, is under Hitler’s reign to which he used referendums (phrased ambiguously) to justify the legislation he was passing. With all political apathy, if you increase the amount of referendums, people might not see a difference ergo political increases. The government has no legal obligation to do what the outcome is. This defeats the purpose of calling it direct democracy. Similarly in ...

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