Helping parliaments get closer to the people they represent

Helping parliaments get closer to the people they represent

By Andy Williamson A key challenge for those trying to engage a broader public in parliamentary democracy is that the processes often appear closed and opaque (because, often, they are). The language is off-putting, the procedures cumbersome and unfriendly, and it’s hard to see what’s going on. It can be hard to see any value in taking part. Digital can’t fix thefirst problem (though it can help), it should improve the second (otherwise it’s pointless) and it can significantly impact on the final two. The internet has given us the opportunity for a genuine…Read more
How do we take back control?

How do we take back control?

  Digital democracy & democratic deficit in the EU The Democratic Society are working on a project to find out how people would like to communicate ideas directly to the institutions of the European Union. It's about citizens feeding in to policy-making and having a say more than just once every five years in the European elections. The UK's role in this is significant as Brexit highlighted a common perception that there is a lack of democracy, that people in Britain have ‘lost control’ over EU policy making. we will be hosting an online…Read more
Turning the tide on democracy?

Turning the tide on democracy?

By Millicent Scott This October, the Athens Democracy Forum will bring together actors from across the world to examine the current threats to democracy from the refugee crisis subsuming Europe, Africa and the Middle East and the rise of terrorist attacks which challenge the core ideals of democracy, to the rise of populism and the spectre of authoritarianism together with the accelerating erosion of trust in our political systems. It is in this context that Ban-Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, has asked the Athens Democracy Forum "How do we turn…Read more

How can online consultations be improved?

The Democratic Society and Snook are really excited to have been commissioned by the Government Digital Service to carry out a short piece of work exploring how the experience of online consultations, as run by Whitehall, can be improved. We will be writing a number of blog posts over the course of the project to share our thinking and invite comment, as we’re really keen to hear the views from a wide range of individuals who have been involved in designing, writing, or responding to, consultations. What are we doing? Over the next six…Read more

Demsoc Paid Graduate Intern Vacancy

Demsoc is looking for a graduate intern. It is a paid, six month position, to start in September 2015 and will be based in Brighton. There are more details below. If you are interested in this role, please email your CV with a covering letter and a 600 word blog post about any aspect of democracy in the 21st century. The deadline for applications is 14th August 2015. Please send applications to susie@demsoc.org.  Read more

Reforming the House of Lords (again) and the number of Peers

David Morris MP (Conservative) recently moved a motion in Westminster Hall on ‘Reforming the House of Lords and the number of peers’. Morris spoke of a need to reduce the current number of peers and proposed a ‘better way’ to slim down whole of the Lords to 250 members. He emphasised that “this debate is trying to find a way forward where we can still retain the Lords expertise and keep them there for life, as they were originally appointed to be”. Morris framed the proposal by speaking about the current composition of…Read more

Limiting Freedom of Information could strike at the heart of a democratic United Kingdom

The free flow of information and ideas lies at the heart of the very notion of democracy and is crucial to effective respect for human rights. - UNESCO In the House of Commons last week, Justice Secretary Michael Gove said that he believes we need to “revisit” the Freedom of Information Act, adding to renewed speculation that the Government is planning to make it more difficult for people to access information about Government and public services. I think we do need to revisit the Freedom of Information Act. It is absolutely vital that we…Read more

Scotland’s participation ‘spring’; what are the Scottish Government doing?

Scotland is in the midst of a ‘participation spring’; a unique and enviable position for a government and politicians to have such engaged and involved citizens. But there is a risk that this could all go to waste if the Scottish Government doesn’t seize this opportunity to engage and involve the public in meaningful participation. The Scottish Government are moving ever closer to making serious commitments to this agenda, bringing the executive one step nearer to realising the First Minister’s vision for her Government to be “the most open and accessible that Scotland…Read more

Help us compile a Democracy reading list

We love discovering new books to read here at Demsoc, and we especially love to discover new books about anything relevant to democracy. We asked internally for suggestions of some good books - suitable for beginners - that contain discussion about democracy and directly related topics. Below are five of our suggestions. What do you think should be on this list? We want you to tell us about the books you think are a must-read for someone that is starting to delve into the subject... the books that have influenced the way you think,…Read more

The Case for Electoral Reform – Stronger Than Ever

The 2015 general election was a triumph for the Conservatives. Before the exit polls on 7th May no one foresaw a Tory majority. So how did it happen? In the weeks since the election there has been much speculation: Did Ed Miliband fail as a leader? Did Tory spending buy the vote? Should UKIP and the LibDems wind up their parties and leave British politics for good? It’s none of these. It’s simply the failure of our electoral system to deliver democracy. With 36% of those who turned out voting for the Tories…Read more