A model for digital democracy

The wiki approach could be what John Bercow is looking for, says Stevie Benton of Wikimedia UK.

A sense that all citizens of a state have a stake, and a say, in the process of government is in some ways crucial to our sense of identity as citizens. It is something that history suggests we as a nation are both proud and protective of. People fought and died for the rights and responsibilities offered by democracy. But there is something of a disconnect between the democratic process as it exists and the levels of public engagement with that process that democracy demands in order to be ...

Posted by Stevie Benton on 11 Jun 2014
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The urgent question

Jo Salter investigates why more women aren't receiving regular cervical screening.

Why are all women not having regular cervical screening? To the ladies in the audience (and the gents with an imagination), the answer lies in the question. A combination of fear, confusion, the struggle to book an appointment at a convenient time, procrastination and just plain embarrassment and squeamishness at the idea of a stranger poking around your cervix conspire to keep uptake of cervical screening among women who are eligible hovering stubbornly at around 78 per cent. More worryingl...

Posted by Jo Salter on 08 Jun 2014
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Trust in the community

Land trusts could be the real passing down of power that localists have been looking for, says Ralph Scott.

Demos has always been interested in power. And not just in the conventional way that almost everyone is interested in power – we’ve investigated how power works, looked for ways of more equally distributing power throughout society and promoted giving people more power over their lives. As you can learn from our Power video (one from the archive), power is not just vested in the traditional political institutions. The march of economic globalisation has reduced the power of natio...

Posted by Ralph Scott on 05 Jun 2014
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Two cheers for populism

The rise of populism across Europe can give politics a kick-start, argues Jamie Bartlett.

A democracy in which everyone agreed wouldn’t be worthy of the name. Liberal democracies are meant to be – need to be – vibrant, chaotic and awkward. A place where grand differences can be thrashed out. A place where ideas compete, and where people feel their views and interests get a hearing. Without disagreement, democracies become staid, dull, and ossified. This is the silver lining to last week’s European Election results: the populist surge might jolt our falte...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 30 May 2014
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In Europe we do not trust

The rise of populism across Europe matches declining trust in European institutions, finds Richard Norrie.

Across Europe, anti-EU political parties are on the rise, and are expected to continue this trend in the current elections. One recent survey by YouGov put Britain’s UK Independence Party on 31 per cent while France’s Front National polled at 24 per cent. It is well-known that trust in politicians and governments at the national level is in decline. But how is trust in European institutions – in particular the European parliament – changing over time? To find out, I...

Posted by Richard Norrie on 23 May 2014
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Scouting for character

Employer supported volunteering could result in a triple win, says Jonathan Birdwell.

Politicians on both sides of the despatch box have recently emphasised the importance of building ‘character’ into our education system. The Prime Minister launched the National Citizen Service with the aim of building character skills among young people. The Step Up To Serve campaign - which is supported by all three political parties – also has ‘character’ development at the core of its rationale to double the number of young people taking part in social action...

Posted by Jonathan Birdwell on 15 May 2014
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Monitoring misogyny

Sofia Patel investigates why women may be using misogynistic language on Twitter just as much as men.

Women are more likely to be subjected to more bullying, hateful, abusive and threatening language on various social media platforms than men. In a fascinating study from 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a host of fake online accounts and then sent these into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames received an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages per day, whereas masculine names received 3.7.This issue came to prominence last summer, when Caroli...

Posted by Sofia Patel on 10 May 2014
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Piketty makes an argument for John Lewis

Thomas Piketty's problems can be solved with more mutualism, argues Jonathan Todd.

JM Keynes’ General Theory was published seven years after the New York stock market crash of 1929. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century was published six years after the financial crisis of 2008.  Paul Samuelson, later a Nobel Prize winning economist and 21 years old when the General Theory was published, said of Keynes’ great work that it ‘caught most economists under the age of 35 with the unexpected virulence of a disease first attacking and de...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 02 May 2014
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A return to ‘relationship banking’?

Duncan O'Leary introduces a new project building an evidence base on local banking.

The recent news that Dad’s Army, the wartime comedy, is to be re-made as a feature film was greeted with a sceptical response in the letters pages of The Times. ‘Sir’, wrote one correspondent, ‘A revival of Dad’s Army will not work because no-one under 40 has met a bank manager’. The acerbic Times letter captured a sense that British banks have become remote from their customers, with too many decisions made via bureaucratic procedure rather than local jud...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 01 May 2014
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ESOL policy needs a re-think

Neil Stevenson investigates the benefits and obstacles to teaching English as a foreign language.

Net migration to Britain has been running between 200,000 and 250,000 per year over the past decade. Despite what political rhetoric sometimes implies, not all immigrants are the same. Beyond the distinctions between EEA and non-EEA origins, immigrants come to our shores with a range of valuable assets: resilient and optimistic attitudes, linguistic dynamism, a plethora of skills and educational backgrounds, as well as a determination to provide a better life for their children. Alongside th...

Posted by Neil Stevenson on 24 Apr 2014
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