Welcome to our first virtual issue of 2021 and to a new year of reflecting on some of the latest thinking on the major policy questions of our time including the growing importance of digital democracy and on-line public service delivery, the decline of public trust in conventional politics, and the potential of citizen participation to reconnect electorates with political and policymaking processes.
Given that on-line working has become so pervasive and so important during the coronavirus pandemic, we start this virtual issue with a collection of papers that explores the role of digitalisation in promoting public participation and delivering public services. Read on as we journey from analyses of these innovative examples of digitalisation, stopping off at some familiar but important themes for regular readers of the journal including direct democracy, political leadership, and new insights into citizen participation. Continue reading →
Chances are, if you were in the “remain” and not in the “leave” camp, you probably think the referendum on Brexit should never have been called. And you probably wouldn’t be alone in that. Think back to the time when French and Dutch voters dealt a death blow to the EU Constitutional Treaty in the 2005 referendums. There were probably a good many people who thought the same thing then. As Qvortrup (2014) puts it, direct democracy “in recent years has thwarted cherished ideas and many a politician’s pet project”. Continue reading →
At 07:20 on 24 June 2016, the result of the ‘once-in-a-generation’ referendum was announced. Little over an hour later the Prime Minister made his own announcement on the steps of Downing Street, stating that it ‘would not be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination’. Since then, one word has been on the lips of Westminster watchers. Bre… OK, not that one. Another. One beginning with ‘m’: MANDATE. Who has a mandate? To do what? By when? How? Continue reading →
The Scottish referendum has left Westminster politicians reeling. Alongside seeking a rapid constitutional fix in response to demands for the devolution of greater powers and resources to Edinburgh, the unanswered ‘English Question’, for so long merely the concern of constitutional anoraks, has taken centre stage. For decades political devolution in the UK was viewed as being confined to the Celtic fringe and despite rumblings of dissatisfaction around the West Lothian Question, politicians of all persuasions seemed content to ignore its wider and longer term potential impacts on UK government. In the absence of viable alternatives and perceived public apathy it seemed wise to leave the ‘English Question’ unanswered. The events in Scotland suggest that this approach is now untenable. Continue reading →
Since first posting it appears that the gap between the yes and no votes is narrowing, suggesting that a yes vote may not be so unlikely after all. Whether this means that Scottish citizens are now tending towards voting with their hearts rather than their heads is another matter. In any case, if you would like to comment, please do so below.
Is the UK really in danger of dis-uniting? The answer is ‘no’. But the more interesting answer is that the independence referendum is, to some extent, a red herring. The nationalists may well ‘lose’ the referendum but they have already ‘won’ the bigger political battle over power and money. All the main political parties in the UK have agreed give Scotland more powers and more financial competencies – or what is called ‘devo-max’ irrespective of what happens on 18 September. Continue reading →
The Policy & Politics Blog features debates from recent issues. An extract is below, then please click on the link at the end to download the full article. Policy & Politics is the leading journal in the field of public policy with an enviable reputation for publishing peer-reviewed papers of the highest quality .
Policy & Politics Debates, October 2012
In May 2012, ten of England’s major urban local authorities held referendums on moving to a model of governance focused on a directly elected mayor. Only one city – Bristol – voted in favour. Elsewhere the proposal was rejected relatively decisively, albeit with a generally low voter turnout.
David Cameron’s coalition government has emphasised large urban areas as drivers of economic growth. It has championed elected mayors as the mechanism for delivering the leadership necessary to capitalise on the potential of our cities. The outcome of the referendum therefore represents a significant setback.
May’s referendums are only the latest instalment in this saga. The leitmotif is central government enthusiasm finding limited resonance at local level. Given that we have had several unsuccessful attempts to (re)invigorate the idea of elected mayors for England, is it now time to put the idea to bed?