Reclaiming politics: Popular democracy in Britain after the Scottish Referendum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Referendums are often criticised for being elite-controlled and undeliberative. This article argues that the detailed, multiactor regulation of the Scottish referendum resulted in an elaborate legal regime which helped to overcome these potential pathologies, diluting executive control and facilitating an exercise in national public engagement. It addresses the troubled history of referendum use in the UK and contends that the Scottish process may well transform how referendums are now viewed. Indeed, one outcome of the Scottish process is likely to be a greater demand at UK level for the use of direct democracy in processes of significant constitutional change. It is by no means certain, however, that these demands for greater popular engagement in the process of constitutional change will be met, particularly when we consider the Smith Commission process, which marks a return to elite interparty bargaining.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Scotland
  • referendum
  • direct democracy
  • public participation
  • Smith Commission
  • popular politics


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