Why bother with referendums and public consultations?

THERE has been mention of many referendums in the news recently, locally, nationally and even internationally.

We have had the possibility of a Greek referendum as to whether they should abandon the euro, the UK question as to whether we should renegotiate our EU membership and, locally, we have questions of houses on Top Wighay Farm and whether the inner bypass in Hucknall is desirable.

Why should politicians need to carry out such exercises? They are elected because the majority of the public agree with the views they have expressed or because it is believed they have the necessary intelligence and expert backing to make decisions most of us are not in a position to make. Politicians have continuous access to the public and to the news media and should, therefore, always be fully informed as to what the people prefer.

On the national and international scene, referendums are very rare, even when it is clear that a large percentage of the population is unhappy with the actions being taken. One instance was when our government took us to war against Iraq after a public outcry against it. Would a referendum have altered this course of action? The answer is clearly no. The government was well aware of public feelings and thought it knew better.

Local referendums, or public consultations as they are sometimes referred to, are much more common. But why? The only answer I can think of is that the organisers want to gain some political advantage.

Unfortunately, most referendums of the uninformed masses, who are naturally biased by what they have been told, are worthless. Consequently, no party should allow answers to such ill-conceived surveys to affect what they do. Logical arguments and analyses should be their only guideline.

Locally, we have Gedling Borough Council asking the question of its residents as to whether it should build houses as far away from the current Gedling residents as possible, ie: on its border with Hucknall at Top Wighay.

The answer is blindingly obvious. So why is the Labour Party posing this question?

Hucknall is very unfortunate in that the local boundaries put us very close to land controlled by Gedling, Broxtowe and Nottingham City councils. Without a change to these boundaries, we have no say in the matter, and public consultations of any kind on this subject are pointless.

The question regarding whether residents think the inner bypass will benefit the town is interesting but requires well-founded arguments to support that belief, not just a tick in a box. Analyses have been put forward in this paper over many years that suggest that the claimed benefits will not materialise and that the scheme is a waste of money. These have never been contradicted by convincing arguments showing otherwise. Now the Labour Party is asking us just one question: are you for or against. Why?



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