Extending human and civic rights

Form a party or start a pressure group? The choice facing nascent political movements

Form a party or start a pressure group? The choice facing nascent political movements

When you’re an under-represented group, changing policy is hard. Do you form a party or start a pressure group? Disagreements about the best way forward have historically riven the Green movement in both France and the UK. Ben Farrer (Knox College) explains why activists need to think about how national institutions in their country work […]

Why has Turkmenistan’s despotic president created the characteristics of a democracy?

Why has Turkmenistan’s despotic president created the characteristics of a democracy?

The incumbent President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was duly elected in February with almost 98% of the vote. But why did a man with such a firm grip on power – he has ruled since 2007 – bother to hold elections at all? Why take the risky step of allowing other candidates to run and […]

Book review | Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy

Book review | Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy

In Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy, Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille examine how Western democracies are shaped by educational inequalities that lead to gaps in political participation and governments being dominated by academic elites. While some of the authors’ solutions for these ‘diploma democracies’ are less convincing, this is a very useful account of the influence of education on […]

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 […]

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? […]

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 […]

Turning the tide on inequality

Turning the tide on inequality

Inequality is the root cause of many of society’s ills, argues Danny Dorling. A depressing link is emerging between where a country ranks on the league table of economic inequality and its economic, social, and political difficulties. He points to Donald Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum as examples of political fallout in two of […]

‘Desperately seeking an elderly gentleman with a large majority … to persuade Parliament to allow MPs to job-share’

‘Desperately seeking an elderly gentleman with a large majority … to persuade Parliament to allow MPs to job-share’

Or a woman MP for that matter, write Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs (Birkbeck). But they must be adored by their parliamentary and local constituency party so that both will be happy for them to stand as half of one of the first MP job-shares at the next General Election. We think it might take […]

Book review | Asylum after Empire: Colonial Legacies in the Politics of Asylum Seeking, by Lucy Mayblin

Book review | Asylum after Empire: Colonial Legacies in the Politics of Asylum Seeking, by Lucy Mayblin

In Asylum After Empire: Colonial Legacies in the Politics of Asylum Seeking, Lucy Mayblin considers the contemporary hostility of the British state towards asylum seekers in the context of colonial histories. While raising some questions about the limitations imposed by the book’s analytic framework, this is nonetheless a compelling study that will be an invaluable addition to activist-scholarship […]

‘Your tenants are gay, get over it!’: how housing services discriminate against LGBT+ people

‘Your tenants are gay, get over it!’: how housing services discriminate against LGBT+ people

Are public services delivering equality for LGBT+ people? In a socially progressive society like the UK, the presumption is that they probably are. But Peter Matthews and Chris Poyner‘s research suggests some very basic steps are still required to deliver equality, notably in Scottish housing and homelessness services. Similar PostsHaving a legal right to settled accommodation empowers homeless […]