Big ideas to transform the economy: participatory budgeting could be the answer

The Democratic Society were invited by the Open Government Network NI to speak at the Festival of Economics in Northern Ireland, on the topic of participatory budgeting. The conference was framed around Big Ideas looking at innovative, challenging and disruptive ideas to transform the economy. Our Niamh Webster joined economists, experts and politicians in inspiring and engaging workshops. The Democratic Society shared our expertise in participatory budgeting from our experience delivering these projects in the UK, and particularly our experience in Scotland. The session covered the theory behind participatory budgeting, how it works…Read more

The 2050 from Brussels-Schuman

The EU Transport White Paper sets out transport aspirations our political system is entirely incapable of delivering. Norman Baker, the Lib Dem transport minister, gave a response to the new White Paper that was classic Bore at the Golf Club Bar. He said, and I paraphrase, "EU, eh? Brussels, eh? Banning cars? Crazy or what? Square bananas next, eh, you know what I mean? Eh? You couldn't make it up!" Although the reporting of the proposal ("British motorists will be outlaws in their own land") made it seem as if the EU had decided…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

Intergovernmentalism, the democracy of the powerful

Here's a line from Friday's FT: Germany and France regularly use bilateral gatherings as a way to set the EU’s agenda at upcoming summits, and Ms Merkel’s comments [on the importance of fiscal harmonisation] could be a sign Paris and Berlin will push for new European measures to deal with crisis at next week’s gathering of EU heads of state in Brussels. And here's another: anti-Europe sentiment has been rising in several EU members during the crisis, with Eurosceptic parties gaining popularity in countries like the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, making further political union…Read more

Lunchtime list for June 14th

Here are the articles and web pages the Talk Issues team recommend today: The lost art of democratic debate - A TED lecture by Michael Sandel (at Slugger) on the marginalised role of citizens' moral opinions in democratic discussion. Germany's mindset has become solipsistic - Jürgen Habermas discusses the "perilous self-absorption" of Germany during the financial crisis The banks have refused to mend their ways. Beware the next crash - Will Hutton presents Despatches on Channel 4 tonight, on the (lack of) change in bank attitudes and regulations. This Guardian article summarises his…Read more

Lunchtime list for June 9th

Here are the articles and web pages the Talk Issues team recommend today: Heffer on the EU: Nostradamus he ain’t - One of our own pieces on a hysterical prediction of the future by Simon Heffer, written in 2003. Find out about the gangs of armed EU police who will be roaming the streets attacking the middle classes in (gasp!) 2010 Spending cuts – now you’re talking - Following the Chancellor's announcement on spending cuts consultation, Matthew Taylor - the man behind the Big Conversation - passes on some lessons from that experience…Read more

The Talk Issues Thinktank Roundup

Welcome to this week's Talk Issues 'Thinktank Roundup' - your one-stop review of all the best publications, research, commentary and events from leading UK think tanks. Not surprisingly in the week of the Queen's speech various thinktanks responds to their fears & hopes from the government legislative programme for the next 18 months. Reports, Publications & Research The Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes a report into how better staff development can enhance health and social care provision for older people in residential homes. With Capital Gains Tax looking like a potential stumbling block for…Read more

Education, Education and (Higher) Education

Education is a massive issue. It's widely believed that locked within it is the success of the future of the country and the economy, not to mention greater equality, fulfilment, welfare and social mobility. A young Mr Blair once listed "Education, Education, Education" as his top issues in government. Is it as high on the agenda during this recovery, and what are the big questions that those in education are asking? Both Primary and Secondary education features high on the debate agenda, an issue brought up during the leaders' debate as well as…Read more

Domestic Issues raised in the first Leaders’ Debate

There is no doubt that last night political history was made with the first live television debate between the leaders of the three main parties. Questions were put to them on domestic issues covering education, health, crime and the recovery from an audience hand picked to reflect British society. So was the debate focused on personality or policy? It was inevitable that every part of the leaders approach to being scrutanised would be analysed, but I certainly felt as if it were an opportunity to see how comfortable each leader was with their…Read more

Who will help NEETs and how?

Each quarter the DCSF publishes statistics on the amount of young people (16-24 year olds) not in education, employment or training, known in the media NEETs. Obviously reducing the percentage of young people in this bracket is an honourable aim (it is the most popular national indicator chosen by councils to attain) and one sought by both Labour and the Conservatives. Labour has faced  criticism for overseeing a period where the percentage of NEETs has increased and looks unlikely to meet its target of getting the proportion of 16-18 years olds classified as…Read more
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