Book Review | Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Book Review | Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

In Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, Arlie Russell Hochschild explores the ‘deep story’ behind the rise of the Tea Party and Donald Trump in the USA, drawing on close contact with her research subjects over a five-year period of living in Louisiana. While the book may struggle to ultimately explain the origins of this phenomenon, writes Tim Winzler, Hochschild’s intense immersion in the field and her use of interconnected research methods make it a valuable contribution to sociological understanding of this topic. 

Posted in: Book reviews
Labour’s political calculations: explaining the party’s muddled policy on Brexit

Labour’s political calculations: explaining the party’s muddled policy on Brexit

Why is Jeremy Corbyn ignoring calls for a second referendum, despite these being backed by a substantial part of his party’s membership, as well as by non-members? Eric Shaw explains the factors affecting Labour’s inability to agree on a clear and feasible Brexit policy, and warns that inevitably divisive decisions will have to be taken.

Posted in: political parties
Election petitions remain important to the integrity of UK elections, but reforms are urgently needed

Election petitions remain important to the integrity of UK elections, but reforms are urgently needed

Until recently, widespread confidence about the integrity of UK elections meant that almost no information was available about election petitions, the only legal mechanism through which a UK election result can be challenged. Stuart Wilks-Heeg and Caroline Morris present significant new data about elections petitions from 1900 to 2016. Their findings fill an important gap in our historical knowledge about electoral integrity and inform current debates about the need to reform the petition mechanism.

The House of Commons and the Brexit deal: A veto player or a driver of policy?

The House of Commons and the Brexit deal: A veto player or a driver of policy?

If, as expected, the House of Commons rejects Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, could it step in to determine what happens next? The House of Commons has not had to run anything directly since the Civil War in the 17th century, writes Andrew Kennon, and so could not long term: our political system depends on a government taking responsibility.

‘Conceived in Harlesden’: When do candidates emphasise their local connections in UK general elections?

‘Conceived in Harlesden’: When do candidates emphasise their local connections in UK general elections?

The personal characteristics of election candidates matter to voters. With election leaflets representing the most common form of contact voters have with Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), when do leaflets emphasise a candidate’s personal traits and/or local connections? Caitlin Milazzo and Joshua Townsley use a dataset of more than 3,700 leaflets distributed during the 2015 and 2017 general elections to explore the conditions under which the personal characteristics of candidates appear in election communications.

Book Review | The British General Election of 2017 by Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh

Book Review | The British General Election of 2017 by Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh

In The British General Election of 2017, the latest in the venerable Nuffield series on British elections since 1945, Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh explore one of the most extraordinary political events of the young century in the UK: the British general election of 2017. While not able to produce a fully coherent explanation of the results, the volume achieves the same skillful blend of narrative and analysis that we have come to expect from the series, with the help of excellent sourcing and well-chosen specialist contributors, writes Lawrence McKay.

When do central governments decentralise? When it benefits the party in power

When do central governments decentralise? When it benefits the party in power

Though many European countries have increasingly decentralised power to regional governments, the trend is not necessarily uniform between regions within one country. In a comparative study of this heterogeneous decentralisation, Sofia Collignon finds that the desire of a central party to retain power in its regional strongholds is a significant factor in explaining regional variation.

Social media can play a key role in campaigns against paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland

Social media can play a key role in campaigns against paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland

Assaults on young people in Northern Ireland by paramilitary groups remain prevalent, though under-reported. Paul Reilly and Faith Gordon detail how social media has been used both by such paramilitary groups to ‘police’ young people and how it can also become a tool for organising campaigns against such violence in the long term.

Posted in: Northern Ireland
Three fast lessons and three slow lessons for UK democracy in 2019

Three fast lessons and three slow lessons for UK democracy in 2019

The Brexit process has exposed serious flaws to the UK’s democratic institutions. In this post, based on a speech given at the launch of The UK’s Changing Democracy: The 2018 Democratic Audit, Joelle Grogan outlines six democratic lessons we should learn in 2019. The book is published by LSE Press, and can be downloaded for free here.

Choosing winning candidates in proportional systems does not increase voter satisfaction

Choosing winning candidates in proportional systems does not increase voter satisfaction

Does expressing a preference for winning candidates as well as voting for a political party improve electoral satisfaction? Damien Bol and his colleagues test whether flexible-list PR improves voter satisfaction using the case of Belgium, and finds that – contrary to expectation – voting for winning candidates does not increase voters’ satisfaction with electoral outcomes compared with ‘party-list’ voters.