Election slightly raised temperature

So, UK local elections are here, as well as the pantomime contest for Mayor of London. Much has been said elsewhere on the elections and what it means for the different parties. Here’s Michael White, for instance.

We are strictly non-partisan here, so we’ll leave the political battles to one side to note in passing the sad absence of election night drama, with many results, including the London ones and all of Wales, not being counted till tomorrow morning.

Citizen initiatives in local councils

I spent my train journey to London this morning thinking about David Cameron’s ideas on the citizen initiatives in local government. If you haven’t seen them, he proposed that petitions (already a feature of local government) could be used to trigger citizen initiatives leading to a debate or vote in their local council. They might even be able to trigger a referendum in the local area.

I started off thinking it was probably a bad idea – the model it suggested was the Swiss citizen recall of legislation or the ballot initiatives in some US states.

Credulous Bayesians

An HIER paper by Glaeser and Sunstein suggests that people are Credulous Bayesians, who insufficiently adjust for idiosyncratic features of particular environments and put excessive weight on the statements of others where there are 1) common sources of information; 2) highly unrepresentative group membership; 3) statements that are made to obtain approval; and 4) statements […]

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.”