Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

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Governing without ministers: Northern Ireland power-sharing should be a priority for the UK government

Governing without ministers: Northern Ireland power-sharing should be a priority for the UK government

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Executive or Assembly since January 2017. Jill Rutter and Jess Sargeant detail the consequences, which would be particularly severe in the case of a no deal Brexit, and set out proposals for reform.

The need for a better understanding of our judiciary has never been greater

The need for a better understanding of our judiciary has never been greater

Judges sometimes disagree. What if the Supreme Court is split in its judgment on the appeal hearing on the prorogation of Parliament? With 11 Supreme Court Justices sitting in this case, that could easily happen. Will Justices who find that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully in procuring the suspension of Parliament be labelled as ‘Remainers’ or even ‘Enemies of the People’, language which the Daily Mail notoriously resorted to in 2016? Could those who reach the opposite conclusion perhaps be portrayed as ‘Leavers’ who prefer to stand aside while the government pursues its Brexit policy without parliamentary scrutiny for five weeks? We should not divide the Supreme Court into Leavers and Remainers, argues Jan van Zyl Smit. The need for a better public understanding of our judiciary has never been greater.

Our student generation has been disenfranchised

Our student generation has been disenfranchised

The latest generation of university undergraduates has been excluded from participating in an issue that will shape their future, leaving the EU. Chris Game details how this came about, and how approaches to youth participation now divide the parties and the nations of the UK.

Book Review | The Technology Trap: Capital, Labour and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

Book Review | The Technology Trap: Capital, Labour and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

In The Technology Trap: Capital, Labour and Power in the Age of Automation, Carl Benedikt Frey explores automation and its consequences, taking the reader on a long sweep of UK and US industrial history that demonstrates the distinction between labour-enabling and labour-replacing technologies. As arguably the most comprehensive account of automation to date, this book deserves to be read widely, writes Liam Kennedy.

How private financial donations affect party extremism

How private financial donations affect party extremism

What is the impact of private donors on a party’s policy platform? Using a new database of 45 parties in 9 OECD countries between 1996 and 2013, Andrey Tomashevskiy finds that the effect of donations is significant, and that parties which receive a greater percentage of their income from private donors tend to adopt more extreme positions on socio-cultural issues.

The modern monarchy and prorogation: clearer rules are required

The modern monarchy and prorogation: clearer rules are required

The question of the legality of Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament reaches the Supreme Court this week. In this context, Craig Prescott argues that, if politicians can’t exercise restraint, then clearer rules for when one parliamentary session ends and a new one begins are needed to avoid the politicisation of the modern monarchy.

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

In considering whether the recent decision to prorogue Parliament was legal, the English and Scottish courts came to different conclusions because they considered different questions, explains Pippa Catterall, not because Scottish and English public legal approaches differ. She discusses the points of constitutional law that are at stake as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the case.

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Matt Hall and David Marsh discuss what recent developments in British politics, especially since the election of Boris Johnson, tell us about the British Political Tradition – a view of democracy that emphasises a limited liberal conception of representation, which focuses on the importance of free and fair elections, and a conservative conception of responsibility based on the idea that the ‘executive knows best’.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

During UK–EU Brexit negotiations, Theresa May pursued a determined path of concealment and non-disclosure. Envisaged as a way to protect herself against political opposition, enhancing her bargaining power vis-à-vis the EU and deliver policy promises, the strategy failed and contributed to the end of her premiership. Ben Worthy and Marlen Heide detail how her case illustrates the powers of increasing transparency expectations and the risks of concealment over longer times or around contentious issues. It provides a useful lesson for her successor.

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

When political leaders say we should cut the number of politicians, what are their motives? Alex Marland found that the rationale is largely symbolic, rather than grounded in any considered approach to legislature size, and used as a populist framing for more general cost-cutting. A more coherent approach should include attention to the process of cutting, and to overall resources for backbench politicians.