Hope this helps towards the adoption of DD.
The clamour is growing for referendum-style direct democracy.
By Philip Johnston
How should your MP vote in Parliament – the way you want them to, or as he or she sees fit? The conventional answer to that question has long been the latter. We do not send MPs to Westminster as delegates, but as representatives. We trust them to make decisions on our behalf based on an understanding of what their constituents would like, while using their judgment about what is in the national interest. It is a concept best articulated by Edmund Burke, who told the voters of Bristol in 1774: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving, you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
Over the years, the British have grown suspicious of the alternative – direct democracy through the widespread use of plebiscites or referendums. Even though referendums are not wholly alien to the British system, they came to be regarded as the devices of demagogues and dictators. In 1975, the Conservatives – led by Margaret Thatcher – opposed holding a referendum on our continued membership of the Common Market and a disdain for direct democracy is still held by many senior Tories who don’t want the Burkean dispensation watered down.
None the less, representative democracy appears to be under threat. In a lecture last night to honour the Oxford psephologist Sir David Butler, the YouGov pollster Peter Kellner voiced his concern about the electorate’s dwindling faith in the old ways. He drew on a survey of more than 5,000 people, conducted in late January, which showed that just 15 per cent of voters think Parliament has done a good job in recent years in “representing the interests and wishes of people like you”. Only 24 per cent think Parliament has done a good job “debating issues of public concern in a sensible and considered way”. And 58 per cent agree that “it doesn’t make much difference to my daily life who wins elections as there’s very little real difference between the main political parties”. Given these figures, it is a surprise to discover that 63 per cent still consider Britain’s democracy to be one of the finest in the world.
So why the cynicism? Kellner suggests the standing of MPs has never been lower, diminished in part by the expenses scandal; by the partisan abuse routinely traded by politicians in the Commons and in the media; and by what he sees as “mendacious journalism” inflating the expectations of voters. Only towards the end of his lecture did Kellner alight on what is probably the principal cause of voter distrust – a belief that MPs are no longer able to make decisions, because of the growth of supra-national bodies that have drained sovereignty from Westminster.