Should Referendums Be More Widely Used in the Uk?

A referendum is a popular vote where people are asked to determine important political or constitutional issues directly and they are conducted nationally, regionally, and locally. An example of a referendum is the 2011 vote on changing the first past the post system to proportional representation. The public have one vote each and the referendum focuses on a single yes or no question. As a form of direct democracy, many countries such as the United Kingdom use referendums. In this essay I will discuss for and opposing views on whether referendums should be used more widely in the UK.

Referendums are used to further democracy and in particular, direct democracy. Political parties in modern, liberal countries all have democracy as a central theme of their electoral manifesto. The 1997 Labour Party manifesto is a key example, as it expressed a commitment towards referendums to aid the government in making decisions legitimate. In Abraham Lincoln's definition of democracy, governing 'by and with the people' was a core element. Referendums are viewed as a way of enforcing a government 'by and with the people', as it allows public opinion to inform party policy.
Conflictingly, there are many issues that may be too complex for the majority of people to understand and make a judgement on. An example of this are issues arising from proposed European Union treaties. This may well be too complicated for popular consideration. Many would agree that such matters should be left to the elected representatives under the guidance of professionals. This is because there is danger that a complex debate may be presented as a few simple arguments and the public may not realise the true detailed nature of the issues in hand and vote without making an informed decision. Although referendums may be considered a purer form of democracy, if the people do not understand in full the topic in hand or enough to make an informed decision, it is not real democracy. Many people rely on the...