Democracy in action? The Place of Referendums in Scotland and the UK


This event responds to current debates on a future Scottish independence referendum and the interpretation of the UK’s referendum on its membership of the European Union. It aims to examine when and how referendums have been and should be used in parliamentary democracy in the UK and in Scotland.

The use of referendums raises multiple questions. What should the role of referendums be in the UK’s representative democracy? Following from IndyRef and Brexit, what are the democratic lessons on the organisation and use of referendums to make key decisions in society? Finally, in the context of discussions about both democratic accountability in the Brexit process and Scotland’s constitutional future, how should possible future referendums be triggered and organised?

This discussion will consider the role of referendums from a constitutional and democratic perspective, and enable a wider reflection on political engagement in representative democracy.

Hear from an expert panel and join the discussion on a central issue for our political system.

Event Chair: Amy Dalrymple, CSPP Co-Chair Guest Panel:
  • Charles Livingstone, Partner, Public Law and Regulatory Team, Brodies LLP
  • Rachel Ormston, Associate Director, Ipsos MORI Scotland
  • Alistair Stoddart, Network Manager, Democratic Society Scotland