Who watches the watchmen?

In the wake of repeated intelligence service scandals,  Carl Miller proposes a radical new oversight regime.

Malcolm Rifkind is concerned about how much information about our intelligence agencies can be shared with the public. In the light of Snowden’s revelations, this misses the point. The way forward is to see whether the structures that oversee intelligence in our name can themselves be comprised of the public. The simple fact is that the programmes Snowden continues to expose are legal. In the US, the Foreign Intelligence Services allows a special court to authorise the collection of in...

Posted by Carl Miller on 05 Jul 2013
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The quiet revolution in banking

Jodie Ginsberg on how innovation is radically changing financial services.

At a Demos Finance event last week, banking commissioner Baroness Kramer predicted that banking would be ‘unrecognisable’ in ten years’ time as changes in consumer behaviour and technological innovation disrupted traditional bank models. Two events yesterday brought that home strongly. The first was a government summit on payday lending – the part of the loans industry that provides small, short-term loans at high interest. Research from consumer group Which? shows th...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 02 Jul 2013
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Creating the service nation

Jonathan Birdwell lays out how to inspire more young people to take up youth social action.

The Cabinet Office and the Prince of Wales have today launched a new campaign to increase the number of young people taking part in social action projects.  Demos’s 2009 report, Service Nation, was influential in devising and shaping the campaign. Today the project takes another forward leap with the publication of follow-up The State of the Service Nation.   Our report provides background research for today’s campaign, analysing the number of young people taking part ...

Posted by Jonathan Birdwell on 27 Jun 2013
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Changing banking for good

Jodie Ginsburg rounds up last night's Demos Finance debate on banking standards.

Last night, Demos Finance turned the tables on the politicians charged by parliament to come up with ways to reform standards and culture in banks. Having spent hours quizzing the great, the good, and the fallen of banking over the past year, the Parliamentary Commissioners on Banking Standards were on the other side of the table for a change, defending a report that argues it has the potential to change banking for good.   The panel encompassed representatives from each party: Mark ...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 25 Jun 2013
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A safer financial system? Don’t bank on it

Legislation alone won't reform our banks, says Jodie Ginsberg. A change in culture is required.

When the global financial system unravelled in 2008, taking down banks that were revealed to have been built on shaky foundations, regulators and policymakers vowed to act swiftly to ensure that never happened again. New rules and laws were drawn up, banks were forced to hold more equity (though not much more, which we will come back to) so that they would not fall over so easily when and if loans and deposits were called in. Regulatory bodies were toughened and commissions and inquiries app...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 20 Jun 2013
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Known unknowns

Death is life’s one absolute certainty, writes Ally Paget, so why so much uncertainty in care at the end of life?

Concerns about quality and capacity in our healthcare system have moved up the news agenda to the front page. Over the past year in particular, we’ve seen a move from a narrative in which particular groups (those with diabetes, those with dementia, etc.) are poorly served, and where ‘future generations’ are predicted to suffer a lower standard of care, to one that is more urgent and more universal. In the past few months, we have heard about the inadequacy of out of h...

Posted by Ally Paget on 19 Jun 2013
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Banking: keep it simple, stupid

The Tyrie report doesn't go far enough in its call for simpler banking, says Jodie Ginsberg.

Last week I wrote about the importance of simplifying the way in which banks talk about what they do and what they sell. So I was pleased to see that the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards – which has spent the past year exploring how to improve culture and ethics in banking – makes explicit reference to the need for improvement in this area in its final report, published today. ‘Alongside financial literacy,’ the report says, ‘there is a need for a r...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 19 Jun 2013
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The race for soft power

John Holden explains why cultural diplomacy is increasingly about people, not states.

Today, the British Council and Demos are publishing a new report called Influence and Attraction: culture and the race for soft power in the 21st century. Cultural contact between nations used to involve high art and elite meetings: Harold Macmillan visiting the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow with Khrushchev in 1959 is a paradigmatic example. But in the 21st century both culture and communication have become democratised.  Cheap flights, 24 hour news, migration and the internet have combined...

Posted by John Holden on 18 Jun 2013
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The hidden cost of reforming banking

The Commission on Banking Standards must prove it is worth the money, writes Jodie Ginsberg.

How much has the year-long investigation into culture and standards in Britain’s banking system cost the Exchequer? The UK Treasury refuses to disclose, saying the amount has not yet been finalised, but – given the amount already pumped in to prop up our ailing banking system – taxpayers deserve to know the costs of attempting to reform it. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards - set up in the wake of the Libor scandal in 2012 - is expected to issue its final re...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 14 Jun 2013
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Making markets work

Chris Grayling's legal aid reforms fail to grasp the benefits of markets, writes Duncan O'Leary.

One of the arguments that the Conservative Party made in the run-up to the last election was that, unlike New Labour, Tory MPs were not naive about Capitalism. They had never hated the private sector, nor had they become starry eyed about it. They understood what genuinely free markets looked like and accepted their limits. For some of the Tory modernisers this is certainly true. As part of our 20th birthday celebrations Demos will be hosting Jesse Norman next month, who has written thoughtf...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 11 Jun 2013
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