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17:00 - 18:30 21 February 2013

What Place for the Referendum in the UK?


Archaeology Lecture Theatre | Gordon House (link Map)
31-34 Gordon Square | London | WC1H 0PY |

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free of charge
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential

Speaker information

Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at the Institute of Contemporary History, King's College London

The referendum is an instrument of popular sovereignty that political sovereignty derives from the people. It has been used on a small range of issues, primarily to secure legitimacy. In the 70s, it has been suggested, Edward Heath took the British establishment into Europe, but it was left to Harold Wilson to bring the British people. Today, the establishment continues to favour membership, the people do not. That is the basic case for an `in-out' referendum.

One difficulty is that politicians and not by the voters make the decisions. In 2011, evidence indicated that the favoured option for most electoral reformers was proportional representation. In Scotland evidence indicates that further devolution is the favoured option. Both options were not on the ballot. On Europe, David Cameron proposes a referendum on renegotiated terms of membership, but evidence indicates people favour an in/out referendum.


Ben Webb
02076794977 | Constitution@ucl.ac.uk


UCL Constitution Unit