Policy and public: Letting the people in


  • Lord Norton of Louth University of Hull.




Members of parliament are returned as representatives of the people that elected them. Party shapes members’ behaviour but the party programme normally gives legitimacy, under the theory of the mandate, to the principle of legislative measures. The members may have little knowledge of what their electors think of particular legislative provisions. There are various obstacles, at both the individual (MP) and collective (party, parliament) level, that prevent members being able to know what electors think. This article identifies the obstacles and also discusses ways in which they can be reduced. Reducing the barrier between parliamentarians and their electors is important to the health of the political system, especially at a time of declining trust in parties and government.


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