Conservative Brexiteers are offering unserious answers to serious questions in Northern Ireland: the consequences for the Union are significant

Conservative Brexiteers are offering unserious answers to serious questions in Northern Ireland: the consequences for the Union are significant

Proposals from backbench Brexiteer MPs as to how to resolve the border question in Northern Ireland fail to address the problem of maintaining a common set of standards with Ireland post-Brexit. Sean Swan argues that, given public opinion in England, a customs border in the Irish Sea, with divergence between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a likely outcome.

Book Review | English Nationalism: A Short History by Jeremy Black

Book Review | English Nationalism: A Short History by Jeremy Black

In English Nationalism: A Short History, Jeremy Black offers a new history of English nationalism, exploring the distinctive aspects of England’s legal, institutional and religious structures and how these have shaped its national self-conception. While the work is an admirably thorough history, its neglect of the relationship between Brexit and Englishness makes it less convincing as a commentary on the role of English nationalism in contemporary debates surrounding identity, race, ethnicity, the Constitution and Europe, finds Ben Margulies.

Posted in: Book reviews
Lessons from Ireland’s recent referendums: how deliberation helps inform voters

Lessons from Ireland’s recent referendums: how deliberation helps inform voters

Ireland’s 2015 referendum on equal marriage and its 2018 one on abortion both had their origins in deliberative assemblies. But did such processes influence the result? The evidence suggests that the information and debate that came with these assemblies had an impact both on vote choice and turnout, writes Jane Suiter.

Local journalists have key role to play in combating ‘fake news’ in Northern Ireland

Local journalists have key role to play in combating ‘fake news’ in Northern Ireland

With Northern Ireland politics at a dangerous stalemate, Paul Reilly argues that the countering of disinformation by both politicians and an independent local media, and a robust and independent press complaints procedure, is vital for ensuring trust in the news media and creating a healthy information environment.

Posted in: Northern Ireland
Democracy in small states: why everything we think we know about democratisation is (mostly) wrong

Democracy in small states: why everything we think we know about democratisation is (mostly) wrong

Why do small states often rank highly in comparative measures of democracy? Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal outline how their research into states with populations under one million challenges existing theories of why democracies can persist or fail.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Why Boris Johnson is wrong about the Irish border (again)

Why Boris Johnson is wrong about the Irish border (again)

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has, once again, intervened in the Brexit debate about concerns over a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Sean Swan explains how Johnson has misrepresented the problem, and why the border question is of such symbolic ­and physical importance.

The dismantling of the State since the 1980s: Brexit is the wrong diagnosis of a real crisis

The dismantling of the State since the 1980s: Brexit is the wrong diagnosis of a real crisis

Abby Innes writes that the vote to leave the EU and the administrative chaos around it pull into focus the crisis we should have been talking about before: the failures of homegrown neoliberal policies and their dire implications. She argues that while Brexit has been heralded by supporters as a solution to a number of problems, what it will actually do is to accelerate to the point of ‘completion’ the already failed experiments to reform the state.

Book Review | For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe

Book Review | For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe

In For a Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe argues that our contemporary ‘populist moment’ represents an opportunity for democratic reinvigoration through the formation of a left populism in the name of radical democracy. The book marks an important intervention, most especially in its work on the political role of affect, finds Matthew Longo, but he remains unconvinced as to whether Mouffe’s vision of agonistic contestation will pave the way for a return of the political. 

Posted in: Book reviews
Does citizen vigilance and social media extend or threaten democratic practices?

Does citizen vigilance and social media extend or threaten democratic practices?

Social media technologies (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram) have brought about radical changes in how the media systems of liberal democracies operate. The platform providers have become powerful actors in the operation of the media system, and in how it connects to political processes. At the same time, these companies claim political neutrality, because most of their content is created by their millions of users – perhaps creating far greater citizen vigilance over government and politicians. Ros Taylor and the Democratic Audit team examine how far the UK’s social media system operates to support or damage democratic politics. Does it help to ensure a full and effective representation of citizens’ political views and interests?

How well does the UK’s media system support democratic politics and represent citizens’ interests?

How well does the UK’s media system support democratic politics and represent citizens’ interests?

The growth of ‘semi-democracies’ across the world, where elections are held but are rigged by state power-holders, has brought into ever-sharper focus how much a country’s media system conditions the quality of its democracy. Free elections without some form of media diversity and balance clearly cannot hope to deliver effective liberal democracy. Ros Taylor and the Democratic Audit team look at how well the UK’s media system operates to support or damage democratic politics, and to ensure a full and effective representation of citizens’ political views and interests.