Referendums in UK

Proposer: Vicky Seddon

Seconder: Debbie Chay

Our experience this year demonstrates the unsatisfactory nature of our current way of doing things, with lack of clarity about the implications of the vote, poor information and much misinformation, and no requirement of a substantial majority before a hugely significant decision is taken.

Referendums need to be used rarely, cautiously and where there is good preparation, and clarity about consequent outcomes.

For a referendum to genuinely reflect the settled will of the people, there needs to be:

  • a political consensus that the issue should be put to the electorate, rather than decided through our representative democracy structures
  • sufficient safeguards in any proposed referendum against making major changes to the constitution without overwhelming support. Both turnouts and majority thresholds should be included
  • clarity about just what the next steps will be in terms of putting the outcome (if successful) into practice
  • a well-informed and balanced debate with misinformation and prejudices properly challenged

Such requirements should be incorporated into a written constitution.