Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199644421_450

Democracy is about more than a vote: politics and brand management

With a General Election rapidly approaching in the UK, it’s easy to get locked into a set of perennial debates concerning electoral registration, voter turnout and candidate selection. In the contemporary climate these are clearly important issues given the shift to individual voter registration, evidence of high levels of electoral disengagement and the general decline in party memberships (a trend bucked by UKIP, the Greens, and the Scottish National Party in recent months).

Read More
9780199644421_450

Let the people speak! Devolution, decentralization, deliberation

In the wake of the Scottish referendum on independence the UK is undergoing a rapid period of constitutional reflection and reform. The Smith Commission has set out a raft of new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has signed a new devolution agreement with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Deputy Prime Minister has signed an agreement with Sheffield City Council, and the Cabinet Committee on Devolved Powers has reported on options for change in Westminster.

Read More
9780199644421_450

Rip it up and start again

‘London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down; London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady’. ‘Oh no it’s not!’ I hear you all scream with oodles of post-Christmas pantomime cheer but Parliament is apparently falling down. A number of restoration and renewal studies of the Palace of Westminster have provided the evidence with increasingly urgency. The cost of rebuilding the House? A mere two billion pounds! If it was any other building in the world its owners would be advised to demolish and rebuild.

Read More
9780199644421_450

Looking beyond the Scottish referendum

In British constitutional history, 2014 will undoubtedly be remembered for one thing and one thing only — the Scottish independence referendum. ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ was the deceptively simple question that veiled a far more complex reality. This complexity was revealed in the pre-election build-up as the three main parties offered concession upon […]

Read More
9780199644421_450

Learning to love democracy: A note to William Hague

British politics is currently located in the eye of a constitutional storm. The Scottish independence referendum shook the political system and William Hague has been tasked with somehow re-connecting the pieces of a constitutional jigsaw that – if we are honest – have not fitted together for some time. I have written an open letter, encouraging the Leader of the House to think the unthinkable and to put ‘the demos’ back into democracy when thinking about how to breath new life into politics.

Read More
9780199644421_450

The Dis-United Kingdom

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.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Sharks, asylum seekers, and Australian politics

By Matthew Flinders
We all know that the sea is a dangerous place and should be treated with respect but it seems that Australian politicians have taken things a step (possibly even a leap) further. From sharks to asylum seekers the political response appears way out of line with the scale of the risk. Put simply, Australian politics is all at sea.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Do we have too much democracy?

By Matthew Flinders
It’s finally happened! After years of watching and (hopeful) waiting, tomorrow is the day that I finally step into the TEDx arena alongside an amazing array of speakers to give a short talk about ‘an idea worth spreading’. The theme is ‘Representation and Democracy’ but what can I say that has not already been said? How can I tackle a big issue in just a few minutes?

Read More
Book thumbnail image

After the storm: failure, fallout, and Farage

By Matthew Flinders
The earthquake has happened, the tremors have been felt, party leaders are dealing with the aftershocks and a number of fault-lines in contemporary British and European politics have been exposed. Or have they? Were last month’s European elections really as momentous as many social and political commentators seem to believe?

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Politics to reconnect communities

By Matthew Flinders
Why does art and culture matter in the twenty-first century? What does it actually deliver in terms of social benefits? An innovative new participatory arts project in South Yorkshire is examining the ‘politics of art’ and the ‘art of politics’ from a number of new angles.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Look beneath the vote

By Matthew Flinders
Hands up if you’ve heard of National Voter Registration Day? And in the somewhat unlikely event that you have, did you realise that it took place last month? If this momentous milestone passed you by, you’re not alone. Whatever 5 February means to the people of the UK, it’s safe to assume that electoral participation doesn’t figure prominently. This is not a surprise.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Mad politics

By Matthew Flinders
If you are reading this blog then you’ve obviously survived ‘Blue Monday’. That is, the day in the third week of January when suicide levels tend to peak and demands for counseling rocket as a result of post-Christmas debt, dashed New Year resolutions, and the inevitable sense that this year is actually unlikely to be much different to the last.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Down and out in Bloemfontein

By Matthew Flinders
My New Year message is simple: we can change the world in 2014 but only if we recognise that we have an economy based upon exclusion and inequality. Some people are ‘down and out’ in Bloemfontein or Rio de Janeiro, or even London, because they were born into a system that entrenched certain inequalities that would shape their life chances. They are not animals in a zoo to be gawped at or mimicked.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Election 2015: ‘Don’t vote, it just encourages the b**tards’

By Matthew Flinders
Without a whistle or a bang from a starter’s gun, the 2015 general election campaign is now well under way. Labour’s proposed freeze on energy prices marks a first tentative attempt to seize the pre-election agenda, while the Chancellor’s autumn statement next month looks set to respond by including measures aimed at cutting the cost of living.

Read More