Many millions of UK citizens want to
decide in a referendum about the "brexit" terms but we
have been deprived of our democratic right to launch
this sort of public issue ballot (Spring 2018)
"is there any consistent evidence that support
for having another referendum has increased?"
John Curtice (Prof), public opinion ace, struggles in his
analysis concerning this question (1). He seems to believe,
or advocate the idea, that if opinion polls suggest that
more than half of the British electorate favours holding
another referendum about UK and EU then, somehow, such a
referendum should be held.
Curtice cites polls carried out by different companies,
which have produced a range of results. What these and other
polls confirm is that (in spring 2018) many millions of
citizens probably desire another referendum about "brexit".
We at INIREF.ORG argue that a decision to hold another
referendum about "brexit" should not depend on opinion poll
results. As thing stand it is only Parliament which can
decide about this, a state of affairs, by no means ideal,
which we say is a weakness of our governance. In this most
urgent case we recommend (in late May 2018) that Parliament
should design and launch a referendum about whether to
accept the "leaving" terms so far negotiated by government
OR to retain membership of the European Union. Government
should co-operate in this initiative.
Further here, we take the opportunity to show that the
citizen-launched referendum would provide better democracy
in the UK.
Just how the people of the UK can obtain a referendum on a
matter of national importance or controversy is by no means
clear. The existing process resembles the practice of
ancient times when a monarch or despot would, rarely, ask
her or his subjects for their opinion on her/his idea or
plan, expecting an acclamatory response, becoming enraged if
criticism should be expressed in the poll.
Referring to the condition of british democracy: "Calling a
referendum, it turns out, does not have anything, in
particular, to do with constitutional principle. Rather,
it’s about party management and political strategy." (2)
What is currently the procedure to instigate a statewide
– For each referendum Parliament (i.e. both houses thereof)
must pass an enabling law.
– Parliament as in much lawmaking is not the effective
decider but it is the prime minister and government who
direct and permit that a referendum shall be held:
Parliament merely "rubber stamps" the government's
Could we do this in a better, fairer, more open and
In the above cited article about public attitudes to
"brexit" the pollsters and Prof. Curtice seem to imply that
a referendum may or should be held only if a majority of
their sampled citizens (extrapolated to reflect half of the
population) have apparently consented to the idea of holding
such a ballot. Now, "government by opinion poll" has rightly
been criticised but it seems that, here,
participative-democracy-by-opinion-poll, is being propagated
;-). To instigate a referendum there is a known and
well-tried improvement both on this and on the hitherto
method (government-imposed plebiscite), namely the citizen
launched referendum. This begins with a society-wide
competition of ideas and proposals followed by the sovereign
act of citizens' initiative (or proposition). A citizens'
initiative must be registered with a public office such as
an electoral commission. Then within a usually defined time
period an agreed large number of eligible voters must
endorse the proposal to hold a ballot. The percentage of
endorsements required is usually in low single figures,
rarely above ten percent. Should Parliament reject the
proposal then a legally binding referendum of the whole
electorate must be held. (3, 4, 5, 6). Further detail may
found at www.iniref.org
To improve our public governance for the future we should
seriously consider reforming democracy along these lines.
You can comment on Curtice's article at this "what uk
2. Peter Wiggins, recent remark at www.democraticaudit.com
is it so DIFFICULT for the sovereign
electorate to get a referendum?
GET A REFERENDUM ON THE BREXIT TERMS (or about any important
MUST LOUDLY DEMAND A REFERENDUM!
needs more referenda for a strong democracy:
BUT quality is crucial