I’m far more worried at the view that referendums, directly elected Mayors or elected officials (police, in particular) are in any way an expression of democracy. They simply aren’t.
They are open so subversion by the media and by pressure groups and they have all of the flaws that Athenian democracy ever had: Most people don;t have the time, energy, inclination or experitise to be ‘active citizens’.
It hands all power over to busybodies that have an exaggerated sense of certainty on policy issues. It leads to awful government, with everything being done at the behest of the loudest, most hysterical self-interested groups in any locality. Imagine a council dancing to Richard Littlejohn’s tune and you’ve got it about right.
The Germans had the good sense to ban referendums after the war because they learned where they led them in the 1930s.
The reason why I don’t buy this is that the logic put forward is “we had to centralise in the 1980s in order to mitigate the voters’ choice of Labour councils with radical agendas. However, now we have lots of Conservative councils who we trust to behave properly and we think the electorate will continue electing Conservative councils in the future”. Once the shine has come off any potential Cameron government, the electorate will take it out on Conservative councils. And then what will happen? Suddenly these reforms won’t seem like the bright idea they seem now.
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