REFERENDUMS: THE LOWEST FORM OF DEMOCRACY

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by Olivia Hanks

It’s a view that has been voiced more and more often in recent weeks, as the EU referendum campaign descends ever further into hyberbole and hysteria: we don’t want this referendum. We didn’t ask for it. For the sake of appeasing a few Tory backbenchers who were putting pressure on the prime minister, the British public has been forced into a decision we are not properly equipped to make.

This is not to disparage that public — it would be the same anywhere. Asking millions of people a simple binary question is not a good way to make complex decisions. We elect politicians based on a vision they set out for us, and we expect them to then use their time, knowledge and access to professional expertise to implement it as best they can. Referendums allow politicians to duck tricky questions during election campaigns: instead of taking a position on difficult issues, they can declare rousingly to the people that “this will be your decision” — which might sound very appealing. After all, who doesn’t enjoy being asked what they think?Continue Reading