This book is a series of 'remarks' and 'sketches', which together form a mosaic to show how the use of the referendum followed a strict, almost Hegelian pattern of the 'unfolding of freedom' throughout the ages. It outlines how referendums have been used in Britain and abroad, presenting some of the arguments for and against this institution. The book commences with an outline of the world history of the referendum from the French Revolution to the present day, and then discusses the British experience up to 2010. The book examines the referendum on European Economic Community membership in 1975, considering the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Next, the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in 2016, especially the campaign leading up to it, is discussed. After the analysis of the Brexit referendum, the book touches on the Maltese referendum on divorce in 2011. It summarises some of the trends and tendencies in the use of the referendum internationally, highlighting that Britain is not a unique case in holding referendums. The book shows that, notwithstanding the general assumptions about referendums, these are not usually associated with demagogues and populism, but the referendum has tended to be used as a constitutional safeguard. However, in Britain, a country without a formal written constitution, these safeguards were not in place. For the referendum to work, for this institution to be a constitutional safeguard, it must be a people's shield and not the government's sword.
the trends and tendencies in the use of the referendum internationally. As this overview suggests, Britain is not a unique case in holding referendums. The chapter shows that, notwithstanding the general assumptions about referendums, these are not usually associated with demagogues and populism, but the referendum has tended to be used as a constitutional safeguard. However, in Britain, a country without a formalwrittenconstitution, these safeguards were not in place. Consequently, a leader like David Cameron was able to use the referendum for party
Between political controversy and administrative efficiency
Kenneth A. Armstrong and Simon Bulmer
; it is now an asymmetrically
devolved one (i.e. there is limited devolved power in England, and the
powers devolved to Scotland and Wales differ from one another).
• It is a constitutional monarchy, with the formal seat of power residing
in the Queen in parliament (parliamentary sovereignty).
• Parliamentary sovereignty embodies the principle that the governmentin-parliament has the ultimate power to make or unmake any law (i.e.
no law can bind a successor parliament).
• There is no formal, writtenconstitution and no British Constitutional
between the private recognition of this “Power” and its public manifestations; although at
the same time it is held to be self-evident in Hill’s later work that
the imagination is as ineluctably political as politics are ineluctably
imaginative. And, if “[t]he theory and practice of poetry is part of the
civil constitution”,67 the fact that Britain does not have such a formallywrittenconstitution may show the Wordsworthian “anxious wish” of
Hill’s claim; or it may cement the importance of language’s precision
and vitality in such an endlessly “self-founded, self
Modern legislatures have developed a range of regulatory techniques to
enforce standards including codes of conduct and registers of interest as
well as dedicated investigative officers.
Constitutional and statutory rules. The internal arrangements of legislatures are rarely found in a constitution but the constitution may exclude
certain office-holders from the legislature to avoid publicly sourced conflicts of interest. Frequent exclusions are judges, members of the armed
forces and civil servants. The United Kingdom has no formalwrittenconstitution, so its rules