Magazine
Latest Issue

Down with people power

Direct democracy is back in fashion, seen as a way of restoring trust in politics. But more referendums, and even votes to sack MPs, are a bad idea—just look at what has happened in California

By Peter Kellner   July 2009

For 40 years I have been a devotee of public attitudes data, both as a journalist and now as president of the polling company YouGov. When the New York Times first coined the term “the second superpower” to describe world public opinion, I thought: “Yes! I help to give this superpower its voice.” But I have come to believe that giving public opinion direct political expression is a dangerous folly.

Nevertheless, following the Westminster expenses scandal and the backlash it has created, a range of populist, direct democracy measures are now being proposed, particularly by the Conservatives. At their heart…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect