Douglas Carswell

15 JUL 2016

Cameron's legacy could be more direct democracy

I disagreed with David Cameron on a lot – which is why I left his party. But there is one aspect of his premiership which I think deserves praise: on three occasions, he called referenda, and let the people decide.

I'm a big believer in direct democracy. In a world where digital technology makes it easy for voters to be instantly clued in to current events, there's no justification for entrusting major national decisions to the political elite alone.

Since Britain's first referendum – Northern Ireland's vote on whether to join the Republic – in 1973, there have been a dozen others. But most have been local or regional. We've only ever had three national referenda. Two have been held in the last six years.

David Cameron called three significant referenda: on the Alternative Vote, Scottish independence, and Britain's EU membership. Yes, he did so under pressure. But the fact remains, he staked his political career on them, and ultimately lost.

Politics remains a cartel. Far too much power is still concentrated in a tiny clique at the top. Bringing back power from Brussels, under the new Brexit government, is a huge first step toward progress. The next will be bringing back power from Westminster and Whitehall.

That requires a government - and a party - far more radical than David Cameron's. But, intentionally or not, he has unleashed the momentum for change. Reformists now need to seize it.

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