As I understand Richard North's idea of referism, the state's budget would be subject to an annual referendum.Richard has written that
Referism is a political philosophy which states that, in the relationship between the British people and their governments, the people should be in control. The state is the servant not the master. Control is primarily achieved by submitting annual state budgets to the people for approval, via referendums. The catchphrase is: "it's our money and we decide". Governments are thereby forced to refer to the people for their funding, hence the term "referism".And in the referism comments thread he wrote on 9 May that
If the electorate refuse the budget, then we have a full-blown political crisis ... what fun! Logically, the referendum would then have to be held on a recast budget ... unless there is provision for an emergency budget and the government elects to work with that. A government could, instead, decide to resign and trigger a general election ... thereby giving the people the effective power of a mid-term vote of confidence.That won't work. Voters aren't that interested, voters will be scared, how do they make clear which parts of the budget they like and which parts they don't? If they think they may lose the items of spending they like, they will probably vote for the budget.
I would anticipate budget rejections being very rare. One would assume the referendum would have a significant deterrent effect.
I favour smaller government, greater accountability etc. But this instrument looks too blunt to deliver them.
Instead let's have binding referenda on issues which citizens choose because those issues are important to them and the political establishment is out of step.
I'd like us to liberate ourselves from the EU. A referendum on that would have a good chance of carrying.
(Actually I'd like England to secede from the UK too, leaving Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to subsidise each other. With our secession we would also be walking away from the UK's EU membership. But I doubt there's public appetite for this ... yet.)
My objection is not to the underlying philosophy that government should be servants of the people. They are not, and of course they should be.
But annual budget referenda just won't deliver that.