Referendums: The voice of the people or the tyranny of the vocal?
What is the purpose of referendums? Does the result really represent the people? And are they effective? These were a few of the issues discussed at a packed debate in the Portcullis House in Westminster on 3rd May 2011, just 36 hours before the UK's first nationwide referendum since 1975. With a panel comprising Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Research Professor at King’s College London, Steve Richards, chief political commentator at The Independent and Lord Norton of Louth, Professor of Government at the University of Hull, the pros and cons of this rarely used political instrument were discussed.
Professor Vernon Bogdanor argued that referendums were a good tool and people should decide these issues rather than the politicians. Yet journalist Steve Richards firmly believed referendums often lead to low quality debate and poor turnouts, something evident he says during the recent AV campaign. Foremost constitutional expert Lord Norton described referendums as "misleading, unbalanced and dangerous".
Listen again to the event:
Part 1 Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Part 2 Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Questions and Answers:
View photos on Flickr