What is a national debate?
The cynics say that calling for a national
debate is the political response to any subject that is too hot
to handle. "Let the people speak" is accompanied by
a stifled mutter of "Let's hope it either goes away or takes
so long that the next government gets landed with the decision".
It's been happening again. It's only just March and we've already
had calls for national debates about new nuclear power stations,
the role of the police, multiculturalism, and the need to find
the right balance between freedom and security in a liberal democracy.
But how do we have a national debate about complex issues? Are
the cynics right and it is just the ultimate diversionary tactic?
Or could we really have large-scale, grown-up discussions about
We think it can be done; this is how.
This is a national debate: large numbers of well-informed people
asking difficult questions and knowing the answers they receive
- or don't receive - will be published.
Will it ever happen? Possibly not - but the next time you hear
someone calling for a national debate do tell them to get