Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Today, The Democratic Society (Demsoc) and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) published a report titled Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Funded by the Local Government Association (LGA), this report is the result of months of research conducted by talking to residents, councillors, council officers and partners about the good and bad aspects of the current system, and how it can be improved. We have looked at the way that the Council makes decisions and who is involved in making those decisions.…Read more
Is Democracy Fit for Purpose?

Is Democracy Fit for Purpose?

By Millicent Scott In western Europe democracy emerged during the 19th and 20th centuries as the process of choice for selecting national governors. It came to replace the birth-right power of monarchy and aristocracy to rule, or in some cases to legitimise the power of the monarch. In the UK for example, the democratically elected House of Commons together with the aristocracy and appointed House of Lords and HRH the Queen form Her Majesty's Government. In eastern Europe, after the fall of communism, democracy has emerged as the system of governance for nearly a…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

#EURef: ‘That’s Democracy’: but is it the type of democracy we want?

The Democratic Society is more committed than ever to helping bring about a more participative democracy. Many people may feel a lot of cognitive dissonance around democracy right now. 17.4 million people seemingly disagree with 16.1 million people, and just fewer than 13 million people, who were eligible to vote but chose not to, have not had a say at all. However, a decision has been made and people may say ‘well that's democracy.’ But is it the type of democracy we should hope for? As many have pointed out referendums can be…Read more

Are protest networks democratic?

Image by chrisjohnbeckett via Flickr Quick post - longer one disappeared into the ether - about protest networks. On Left Foot Forward, Aaron Peters is broadly sympathetic to the claims of UKUncut and other similar "open-source" protest movements, that they have come up with a new organisational model which works better for mass involvement than traditional structure. Near the end of the piece, he hints at the issue I have with that argument: The lesson from the whole event is this – networks can be more powerful than organisations in fostering dissent and…Read more

2011: Welcome to the Hotel Gran Bretaña

2010 felt like a year where everything in the political landscape was thrown up in the air, first by the arrival of the coalition government, then by the spending cuts. Now we are in the year in which the first cuts will happen. Soon what was thrown in the air will start to land. At the moment, much is still uncertain, and what is certain is mostly bad. A lot of good people are on notice of redundancy. The Civil Service is shrinking. Local government - whose cuts profile is particularly brutal -…Read more

In and for, part 94

The Guardian's map of the public sector workforce (available here) is a beautiful thing, but its visuals imply that you can tell where the public sector job cuts will have the most effect. But because local government boundaries are so permeable, you can't.

Winter of what?

Lots of shouting about trade union influence in the Labour party today. In thinking about how people respond to stories of union-led chaos, it's worth remembering that the Winter of Discontent is outside the political memory of most people of voting age (though, due to differential voter turnout, not quite outside the memory of the majority of voters). In 2015, when the next election is due, potential voters who were sixteen or over during the winter of discontent will be outnumbered 62:38 by those who were younger or weren't born.