Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem

A new book on the US voting system, reviewed by Salon, looks at Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem – “There is no consistent method by which a democratic society can make a choice (when voting) that is always fair when that choice must be made from among 3 or more alternatives.” It considers alternative voting systems that […]

Flat Earth News

An interesting new book is out, called Flat Earth News. It accuses journalists of sloppy research and poor fact-checking – essentially, of letting down the entire purpose of their profession. These are obviously serious allegations, for all the cynicism about journalism makes them seem everyday. They are all the more serious because they are based […]

Community Contracts: are they a route to disappointment?

The UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government has published a guidance document on creating local charters (also called community contracts). These are arrangements between local communities and public sector service providers, containing promises from both sides on service standards and tailored service provision. In other words, charters are deals between the state and its […]

White people feel they can’t influence

Interesting results from the DCLG citizenship survey reported by the BBC. It asked people how much they felt able to influence politics, and white people felt much less able to influence than minority groups. Some 19% of white people agreed they had a say, compared with 33% of other groups The survey in full.

Matthew Taylor on modern malaise

The New Statesman this week has an interesting article by Matthew Taylor, former No. 10 policy wonk and now RSA head man. In it, he talks of the effect that the decline of collectivist culture (political parties, trade unions, etc.) has had on the prospects for political optimism. The key paragraph (from our point of […]

Cynicism in America

The Washington Post reports a sour mood among US voters: “Even more striking [than generally unfavourable views of politicians] was the answer to the question of whether Americans believe their own member of Congress puts partisan politics ahead of constituents’ interests. Fully 71 percent said partisan politics and 63 percent strongly hold that view.”