by Harry de Quetteville
If we do follow that route and the public takes on more and more of the decision making, the result will be this: many people will tune out of a conversation that doesn’t interest them, so participation will actually be smaller; as a result, the hardcore who remain will be engage in a fiercer, shriller debate, that necessarily tends away from the centre to the extreme. Political identity will become fundamentally personal, political disagreement effectively become a form of personal abuse. And, as America has shown, that way lies profound political deadlock and dysfunction.
People talk about a need to rebuild trust in our politics, and in our democracy. But we need politicians to assume responsibility, not pass the buck, so that they can be held accountable - rather than claim to be blameless and pretend, somehow, that they have deferred to "the people”.
Otherwise we suffer politics by charade. It is true that we need to rebuild trust in our democracy. But this is not to be done by holding lots more referendums, or outsourcing lots more decisions to “the membership”. We need to rebuild public faith in one thing only, the great, substantial idea of representative democracy.
The office of prime minister is about to be decided by 0.2 % of the population, chiefly ladies in their seventies, spotty, socially awkward Tory students, retired colonels, cantankerous councilors, plus a handful of people like me, who are almost normal.