Behind the Demons of the Digital Underworld

On 15 April 2015, Jamie Bartlett - the Director of Demos' Centre for the Analysis of Social Media - delivered the Four Thought lecture on BBC Radio 4. Read the full lecture online here.

My heart was pounding as I waited for Paul to arrive at the train station where we’d agreed to meet. I’d been communicating with him for some time, all via the internet. Paul was a vitriolic, aggressive neo-Nazi who spent his life online producing and sharing White Pride propaganda. He was one of several people that I spent much of the last year meeting researching my book. I’d gone in search of shocking and hidden internet subcultures, immersing myself in digital worlds of...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 16 Apr 2015
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Are These the Manifestos Voters Deserve?

Demos Researcher Louis Reynolds assesses the 2015 Election Manifestos, and proposes how they could be reformed to better serve voters and enrich democracy.

Today’s manifesto launches from UKIP and the Liberal Democrats means all the main parties’ wares are finally on display. But as the dust begins to settle on these documents, after so much fanfare, it is worth pausing to reflect on what on earth they have actually achieved. The parties have used their manifestos for a huge range of purposes. They have been ‘weaponised’ to address enduring weaknesses, they have been employed as a desperate last-minute offering to the el...

Posted by Louis Reynolds on 15 Apr 2015
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Cameron Takes Tories Back to the Future

Our Research Director, Duncan O'Leary, weighs in on the Conservative Party's 2015 Election Manifesto.

Yesterday’s big launch went well, with 1.6 million viewers excitedly tuning in to watch on television. But enough about Game of Thrones – this is manifesto week. Today saw the Conservatives take their turn, following Labour’s safety-first effort yesterday. As expected, there was a big new policy announcement at its heart, designed to offer a sense of David Cameron’s vision for Britain.  The promise to extend the Right to Buy to housing associa...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 14 Apr 2015
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Not Quite New, Not Quite Blue

Our Research Director, Duncan O'Leary reflects on Labour's 2015 Election Manifesto.

Much has been made of the similarity in language between Labour’s Manifesto today and Hilary Clinton’s campaign launch last night – but there is good a dose of Bill in there too. America’s 42nd president used to talk of being ‘in the future business’; Ed Miliband made his speech today with FUTURE emblazoned in capital letters behind him. He wants to focus on the next five years rather than get stuck debating New Labour’s record in government.  So...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 13 Apr 2015
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Young People, Political Participation and the 2015 General Election

James Sloam, reader in politics and co-coordinator of the Youth Politics Unit at Royal Holloway University, on how to engage young people with the General Election.

Young people in the UK are increasingly disillusioned with electoral politics. Over the past three General Elections, an average of 40 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted, while 60 percent of this age group turned out to vote in the 1992 General Election. My research finds that the youth turnout rate in the United Kingdom is the lowest of all the 15 members of the old European Union; 18 to 24-year-olds in Sweden turn out to vote at double the rate of their peers in the UK.   So, there ...

Posted by on 13 Apr 2015
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Social Media Carves out a Fifth Estate

As Demos launches its report on how immigration is spoken about on Twitter, Sophie Gaston explores the changing role of social media in the UK's political sphere.

The increasing integration of new media technologies, and particularly social media, into our personal and working lives has heralded an enormous amount of debate and discussion about their transformative potential. In politics, this has centred on the capacity for social media to bring political leaders closer to their constituents – but it has also inspired a great deal of commentary around how the demands of the social media age are changing the scope and scale of leaders’ resp...

Posted by Sophie Gaston on 10 Apr 2015
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Food for thought

Following the first election debate, Ally Paget proposes a way forward on food poverty.

It’s little surprise that it was a question about food banks that kicked off last night’s leaders’ debate. The ‘food bank question’ has become a litmus test for a number of issues which occupy the top spots in the pre-election agenda: the impact of welfare reform (particularly benefit sanctions), the cost of living, widening inequality, and – in its more personal form (expressed in terms of the price of a loaf of bread, a pint of milk, the ideal number of k...

Posted by Ally Paget on 27 Mar 2015
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Method in the madness

Duncan O’Leary sees an ulterior motive in David Cameron’s apparent gaffe.

David Cameron is a more skilful politician than most people seem to think. His statement this week that he would not seek a third term in office has been framed as a 'gaffe', but this assumes he hadn't planned to say what he did.  As James Forsyth points out, the analogy Cameron used looked a little too carefully chosen to be spontaneous. Watch the interview back and you also see that he answered the question instantly and emphatically – not the behaviour of a pol...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 25 Mar 2015
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A tactical retreat?

Labour's attack line may already have done its work, argues Charlie Cadywould in response to the 2015 Budget.

‘The Tories will take Britain back to 1930s levels of spending’ might be Labour’s most important and effective slogan in this election.Even though they can no longer use it, it’s already had an important effect, forcing Osborne into a tactical retreat. Former Treasury Adviser Damian McBride made a point on Newsnight last night in his analysis of the budget that’s worth expanding on: yesterday’s budget was actually rather unexciting, and this was largely do...

Posted by Charlie Cadywould on 19 Mar 2015
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What's going on

Politics needs to be more, not less, concerned with people's everyday lives, argues Duncan O'Leary.

I know what Ed Miliband meant when he tweeted last week that: 'I think Nigel Farage's comments today are wrong, divisive and dangerous. The laws we have on equality represent our values as a country' I also know what Polly Toynbee meant when she wrote: 'Would like to follow politicians I like - but too bored by pics of them at local events. Why don't they tweet political thoughts, ideas, hopes?' But the two statements have something important in common: an instinct...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 16 Mar 2015
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