Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

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Book Review | Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation by Timothy Heppell

Book Review | Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation by Timothy Heppell

In Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation, Timothy Heppell offers a new analysis of David Cameron’s leadership of the Conservative party (2005–16) and of the UK, organised around the key themes of modernisation and manipulation. In his admirably objective study, drawing on compendious reading of relevant sources, Heppell demonstrates that while Cameron’s attempts to ‘de-toxify’ his party are important to his legacy, it is equally profitable to regard him as a manipulator of the broader political landscape, writes Mark Garnett.

A great or Pyrrhic victory? The dangers ahead for Boris Johnson

A great or Pyrrhic victory? The dangers ahead for Boris Johnson

This year Prime Minister Boris Johnson must negotiate the details of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Although he has the benefit of a sizeable Commons majority, there are potential pitfalls for him, explains Ben Worthy, in the complexity of these negotiations, party management and in Johnson’s own leadership style.

Battle of the mandate: defining the dispute over a new Scottish independence referendum

Battle of the mandate: defining the dispute over a new Scottish independence referendum

The ongoing dispute over whether a new Scottish independence referendum should take place reflects very different interpretations of Scotland’s sovereignty, writes Anthony Salamone. Questions of whether Westminster or Holyrood can determine if a new referendum is held are distinct from the issue of independence itself, and will most likely continue to be contested at least until after the next Scottish parliamentary elections.

Three ways of theorising ‘capture’: when politics and business join together

Three ways of theorising ‘capture’: when politics and business join together

In the strongest-performing liberal democracies the separation of the political sphere from dominant or directly controlling business influences is protected by a range of ‘blocked exchanges’ (in Michael Walzer’s terms). But in authoritarian regimes, semi-democracies and flawed liberal democracies it is common for business interests to take control of the levers of political power acting alongside top politicians, with a joined-up elite or ‘oligarchy’ thereby ‘capturing’ the state. In different forms, this worldwide phenomenon can be seen from Russia to South Africa and from China to Brazil. Frank Vibert outlines three ways of looking at these situations, and stresses the difficulty of identifying and implementing a cure.

Informational privacy: a precondition for democratic participation?

Informational privacy: a precondition for democratic participation?

To survive, democracies need to protect citizens’ data privacy, even against their inclinations to share information online, writes Wulf Loh.

Dominic Cummings’s thinking on the civil service is a potent challenge to the Whitehall system – and is likely to be opposed

Dominic Cummings’s thinking on the civil service is a potent challenge to the Whitehall system – and is likely to be opposed

Patrick Diamond discusses Dominic Cummings’s stated intent of imposing disruptive reforms on the civil service, and explains why his rhetoric may prove to be particularly counterproductive in a Conservative Government.

How sexuality affects the choices of voters across Europe

How sexuality affects the choices of voters across Europe

Drawing on a new study, Stuart J. Turnbull-Dugarte demonstrates that sexuality has a significant impact on political behaviour across western Europe, with lesbian, gay and bisexual voters far more likely to back parties on the left.

A Conservative majority means parliamentary scrutiny is in danger of being weakened

A Conservative majority means parliamentary scrutiny is in danger of being weakened

Marc Geddes considers the potential impact the recent Conservative victory may have upon parliamentary scrutiny. The size of the majority, the current government’s agenda for legislative reform and the changes to select committee membership may all have a detrimental effect on parliament’s ability to scrutinise government effectively.

What impact has the general election had on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee?

What impact has the general election had on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee?

Following the failure of the government to publish the Intelligence Security Committee’s report into Russian interference ahead of the election, Andrew Defty examines the impact of the general election on the ISC, outlines the process for the establishment of a new committee and assesses the likely priorities of the reconstituted committee.

First-past-the-post – normal (disproportionate) service has resumed

First-past-the-post – normal (disproportionate) service has resumed

In the 2017 election the UK’s ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system operated quite proportionately, as the Conservatives and Labour level-pegged at high levels of support, and squeezed out support for other parties. In 2019, however, FPTP reverted most of the way back to its historic pattern, awarding a huge ‘leader’s bonus’ of seats to the Conservatives in England and to the SNP in Scotland. Patrick Dunleavy explores why the levels of disproportionality have bounced back towards historic levels.