Votes at 16: we need a proper conversation about when adulthood begins

Votes at 16: we need a proper conversation about when adulthood begins

The vexed question of whether people should be allowed to vote from the age of 16 has returned to the Commons with Jim McMahon MP’s Private Member’s Bill. Many argue – citing the Scottish independence referendum – that it would provide a democratic stimulus. Yet the evidence for that is lacking, say Andy Mycock (University of […]

Brexit has blown open the unreconciled divisions in Northern Ireland

Brexit has blown open the unreconciled divisions in Northern Ireland

The British and Irish governments have long tried to keep a lid on the tensions in Northern Ireland. But Brexit, argues Duncan Morrow (Ulster University) has exposed the weaknesses of the Good Friday and St Andrew’s Agreements – deals that never required each side to give up their aims of ruling Northern Ireland alone. Now […]

Understanding Labour’s ingenious campaign strategy on Facebook

Understanding Labour’s ingenious campaign strategy on Facebook

The 2017 election saw a stronger than foreseen performance by the Labour Party. Matt Walsh explains how Labour’s Facebook success played out, heralding the party’s overall campaign performance. GE2017 was a numbers game: by achieving very high levels of organic reach, Labour managed to target undecided voters in marginal constituencies, energise voters who had drifted away from the […]

Book review | Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

Book review | Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

In Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, James C Scott contributes to his longstanding intellectual project of re-evaluating the role of the state in political thought by looking at the development of the early agrarian states to challenge narratives of progress founded on state formation. While acknowledging that a number of objections can be […]

Republicans give more to charity – but not because they oppose income redistribution

Republicans give more to charity – but not because they oppose income redistribution

Who gives more to charity – Republicans or Democrats? Michael Sances (University of Memphis) and Michele Margolis (University of Pennsylvania) found that conservative Americans donate more, even when socio-economic differences are taken into account. Could this be because they support a smaller role for the state, or as an effort to signal their philanthropic credentials? […]

The new prison framework will be inflexible, costly and do nothing to ease chronic overcrowding and violence

The new prison framework will be inflexible, costly and do nothing to ease chronic overcrowding and violence

The Conservative manifesto planned to create a series of legally enforceable standards that prisons, and those who work with inmates, will have to meet. Nasrul Ismail and Nick de Viggiani (University of the West of England) have interviewed 30 prison policymakers about the proposed new framework. They warn its inflexibility will lead to a ‘compliance […]

What’s driving the decline of the centre-left?

What’s driving the decline of the centre-left?

Are centre-left parties across Europe facing terminal decline? Drawing on a new book, Rob Manwaring (Flinders University) and Paul Kennedy (University of Bath) argue that an essential element in any robust democracy is an effective centre-left. However, centre-left parties now face a number of major challenges, from the rise of new parties, to the erosion of their traditional support […]

International election observers: the watchdogs with no bite

International election observers: the watchdogs with no bite

Most elections are now monitored by international election observers, whose presence is intended to deter vote-rigging and who report on whether the vote was ‘free and fair’. But after the Kenyan Constitutional Court nullified the recent elections there despite observers having approved them, the value of these missions has been questioned. Sophie Donszelmann (LSE), Cristoforo […]

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Book review | The Violence of Austerity

Book review | The Violence of Austerity

In The Violence of Austerity, editors Vickie Cooper and David Whyte bring together contributors to explore the negative impact of austerity upon citizens in the UK, covering such topics as health, education, homelessness, disability and the environment. This is a powerful description of the consequences of austerity policies for the UK’s most vulnerable people, writes Paul Caruana-Galizia, and should be read widely.  Similar […]

Everyone loves select committees these days. But have they really changed?

Everyone loves select committees these days. But have they really changed?

The Wright reforms have been widely credited with reinvigorating select committees. Stephen Bates, Mark Goodwin (University of Birmingham) and Steve McKay (University of Lincoln) take issue with this assumption. They found the reforms have made little or no difference to MP turnover and attendance, which are driven by the parliamentary cycle. When MPs are jostling […]

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