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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 23:27 GMT 00:27 UK
Apprentice Khan wants more polls
Saira Khan
Saira Khan appeared in the first series of The Apprentice
Former The Apprentice contestant Saira Khan is launching a campaign to give people a greater say on major issues through the use of referendums.

Her campaign, entitled Our Say, aims to give the public "a direct say over the issues that really matter to them".

A poll would be triggered by a petition supported by 2.5% of voters, which is 1m people nationally or 4,000 locally.

Ms Khan insisted: "Politicians have to get serious about sharing power with the people."

'Referendum Day'

The Our Say campaign argues that low turn-out at elections and public cynicism are the direct result of a political system that does not listen to the people.

Under its plans, petition signatures would be collected within a set period and verified by the Electoral Commission.

So many people are disillusioned and cynical about the way the system works
Saira Khan

The outcome of the referendum would be binding on Parliament or the relevant local authority.

Polls would only be held once a year on "Referendum Day", which would coincide with local elections in May.

There would be strict limits on expenditure during referendum campaigns and the Electoral Commission would have the duty of setting a fair, balanced question.

Broadcasters would be required to give equal coverage to both sides of the argument.

Party conferences

Ms Khan, who was a runner-up in the first series of the BBC programme, said: "Politics in Britain is broken.

"So many people are disillusioned and cynical about the way the system works. It's no good simply tinkering.

"Politicians have to get serious about sharing power with the people.

"That's what Our Say aims to do by giving every citizen a direct say over the issues that really matter to them."

Ms Khan, who will launch her campaign in central London on Monday, plans to go on tour around Britain and will speak at each of the main party conferences.

She is also looking for a local authority that could trial a referendum for a controversial local issue.

Similar systems operate in a several other countries, including Switzerland, New Zealand, Poland and a number of US states.


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