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Book review: People Power, by Dan Jellinek

I picked up People Power: A User’s Guide to Democracy from the library recently. It promises to explain “how democracy in the UK works, in the hope that if we understand it better, we can help make it work better”. The next day the general election was announced, so it feels like a good time […]

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Book review: The Struggle for Democracy, by Roger Mason

I have been, of late, rather disappointed in the state of democracy in the English speaking world. I’m frustrated by partisan divides, the way campaigns can lie with impunity, and parties that only support reform that would directly benefit them. When the British government finds itself in court fighting for the right to make major […]

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The Happiness Industry, by William Davies

You don’t have to explore too far into the topics of consumerism or postgrowth economics before you bump into happiness metrics. It’s a popular theme, pointing out that happiness levels have been more or less the same for decades, despite a doubling of income and rising consumption. That has led some people to call for […]

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A one-planet Switzerland by 2050?

As you may know, Switzerland has an unusual tradition of direct democracy, with citizens able to propose laws and policies and put them to a referendum. It can be abused, and bad ideas turn up as well as good ones, so it would be wrong to idealise the system. But one thing we can say […]

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Brexit and the grieving process

It’s been a strange few days. Britain’s decision to leave the EU has trumped all other news concerns and most other topics of conversation among family and friends. What is most striking to me is just how fragile Britain has turned out to be. The referendum has ripped the country down the middle, destroying both […]

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A conversation about the referendum

This morning I was on BBC Three Counties Radio to do the early morning newspaper review, something I do from time to time. Of course the papers are wall to wall referendum news, so I had a chat about it all with Helen Legh. Here’s the first part, if you’re interested. You can hear the […]

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Why I’ll be voting to remain in the EU

The world in the 21st century is smaller than it was. We are more connected than ever before, in so many ways. Just in the course of this morning, I have engaged with a host of international networks. Breakfast involved global trade, particularly the coffee from Ethiopia. Here I am working on a laptop made […]

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Ten arguments for a Citizens Income

The citizen’s income is an idea on the ascendant at the moment. It’s been languishing forgotten for a couple of decades, but seems to be capturing the imagination again. There are campaigns and discussions, new reports and studies, and several countries actively considering it. There’s a fuller explanation here, but to recap: the citizen’s income […]

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Happy birthday Magna Carta

Today marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, when King John reluctantly accepted the terms and ended the threat of civil war with the barons. The document has become one of the most important in British history, rich in symbolism as the first time a king was made subservient […]

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The government that might have been

This week the Electoral Reform Society can reveal what the outcome of the election could have been under a variety of different voting systems. There are always little charts right after the election showing alternative distributions of seats, but that can only re-arrange votes and seats. It doesn’t show the way people might have voted […]

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