Monday, 19 November 2018

Demand Four - The People's Consent.

This demand is in three parts with each giving the people the ‘Power’, given certain criteria are met, to call for a referendum on any given matter.

The basic method for trigger a referendum, in all three areas, would be the raising of a petition given the set benchmark of signatures has been met. The next requirement is that a certain percent of the available electorate has to turn out to vote and then the third element is that the majority, to get change, has to be significant. The exact detail of each of the three stages is not yet set but what should be clear is that to hold a referendum is no easy matter.

So the first area a referendum could be held is only advisory on the government and can cover any matter than the public wish to draw to the government's attention. So for example if the correct number sign a petition to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph then they could attempt to get a referendum held but the result if passed by the requisite number would only be advisory.

The second area that a referendum could be held is to specifically challenge a piece of government legislation before it becomes law. If the vote meets the requirements then the government’s bill is defeated. This gives the people real power over their government.

The third area in which the public could challenge decisions and seek rejection would be the decisions made by government or official bodies also elected and appointed officials including ministers and judges. Again strict benchmarks would need to meet and the sort of things that could be challenged would be planning consents and the sentences handed down by judges.  

This demand is critical to our whole agenda as it places real power in the hands of the public and therefore the ability to stop the government’s legislation if the majority so wish it.

Finally to avoid the public simply repeating the call for a referendum, should they not get the decision they want, we propose a ‘don’t ask again clause’ to cover a certain period  and while we suggest a period of 25 years in our pamphlet this would need to be discussed in further detail with a possible alternative being a yes/no question added to every referendum which asks if the public wish to be consult again on the issue within a defined period.

This demand gives real power to the people over their politicians and parliament which both become subordinate, under certain conditions, to a sovereign people.    


  1. Experience of the 2016 referendum might modify a person's view of referenda. It seems to have settled nothing except to show that on the issue in question the nation is bitterly divided. It was characterized by disinformation rather than reasoned discussion. Since the referendum there has been much fury over the financing of the respective campaigns. This itself shows a complete lack of confidence in the public's ability to make rational decisions.

    1. 'The People's Consent' involves the people not government choosing what issues they want their say in. Also in the main any referendums achieved are to stop government policy.

      There is therefore a big difference between the 2016 EU referendum and our fourth demand.

    2. I don't understand the second sentence here.
      I can accept that THA referenda would be different from the 2016 one, but lessons might still be drawn from 2016 how not to run a referendum.

    3. Let's suppose the government wishes to pass a law to ban all airguns then the 'people', given they meet all the bench marks, could demand a referendum for the 'people' to decide whether to accept that particular law or not. The referendum question would be relatively simple as it would just ask whether you accept the new law to ban all airguns or not.

      As to lessons being drawn from the 2016 referendum you are right that there are lessons that we can learn from it, some of which we already account for, like demanding a specific turnout of the electorate and a clear margin to overturn the law being contested.

      We are also aware that before going 'live' there would be extra work needed to beef up our fourth demand and the need for the introduction of an electronic voting system to reduce the costs and increase the participation.

    4. It may be worth looking at the Sortition Foundation's website with their arguments for holding a citizens' assembly before a referendum. This may go some way to answering the objection that people's votes are based on disinformation.

    5. I've read a book on Sortition covered here:-

      However, I believe the checks and balances outlined in our fourth demand are robust enough without complicating things with a citizens' assembly before a referendum.

  2. Replies
    1. If you want the actual 'truth' about the EU then you should read Dr North's blog EU Referendum.