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What were the predicted outcomes of the general election, and how can we accurately forecast the vote? What would a coalition government have looked like? How has Britain’s relationship with the European Union developed after May 2015? What is the future of party politics in Britain, and what constitutional issues will the new government face? The Oxford University Politics Blog‘s special series “Decision 2015” explores these questions with experts in the field.

If we are in a constitutional moment, it is time that ‘We the people’ have a right to settle what happens. A Constitutional Convention (CC) is one way to give the people this leading role. A CC is unlikely to refound the British state if it is set up to function as, in effect, an advisory council to the UK Parliament on a relatively narrow range of issues. The UK is in what the lawyer and political philosopher Bruce Ackerman would call a ‘constitutional moment’. There are, obviously, deep and urgent questions about the future of the Union and ‘devolution’. There are related questions …

One of the central problems with studying the politics of constitutional change in the UK is that the public does not care about the constitution. Unsurprisingly, constitutional reform does not figure prominently in the party manifestos for the May general election. That does not mean that these documents tell us nothing at all: they show that parties stick with their old policies; that the Conservatives seem to avoid any explicit reference to the constitution; and that all political parties appear to be willing to use the constitution to their own advantage. In this blog post, I distil some of the constitutional issues in the party manifestos of the three largest parties in Westminster in the last parliament: the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats (if there’s time, I will do another post on the smaller parties’ proposals). I define ‘constitutional’ issues as distinct from ‘distributional’ ones, which involve reallocation of resources (and the regulation of behaviour). Constitutional issues are about how decisions are made, not about the outcomes themselves, and should be neutral between, say, more or less progressive (or conservative) substantive policies.

From the University of Cambridge comes ELECTION, a weekly politics podcast; asking the questions that no one else is in the run-up to the British General Election with the most interesting people inside and outside the political arena. Here below are the eighth, ninth and tenth podcasts. #8 – Robert Tombs on Britishness, Britain’s place in Europe & the NHS What makes our politics uniquely ‘British’? Why is there no EnglishIndependence Party? How did the NHS become a sacred cow? And will Britannia ever rule the waves again? David puts these questions to Professor Robert Tombs – historian and author of a new epic history of England – to discover the impact of culture and foreign affairs on British political life. The team also review David Cameronand Ed Miliband’s favourite books, the pros and cons of the fixed-term Parliament, the neglected but extraordinary Nigerian election, and what to expect between now and polling day.

Forecasters, academic experts, journalists, pollsters and the betting markets have long been forecasting a seriously hung parliament with both major parties not only short of the 326 seats required for an overall majority but even forecast to get less than 300 seats. Meanwhile, an SNP landslide is expected in Scotland which would be hugely damaging for Labour and have major implications for the government formation process. If the forecasters and betting markets are right in their central forecasts then Con+LD+DUP combined will be short of a majority and so a Labour led government should form if they can secure the support of the SNP and probably others, including the Liberal Democrats, will be needed too: a potentially messy and unstable situation but also one where there is sufficient similarity in ideological perspective for policy agreement on plenty of issues. But there is uncertainty associated with all the forecasts and some forecasters are trying to estimate the extent of that uncertainty, which in turn can be used to calculate probabilities of particular events (hung parliament, largest party, etc.)

The United Kingdom general election is less than a month away, and it is proving to be on a knife’s edge. Only a few percentage points separate the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, and for now no party seems to have a decisive advantage in the polls. Meanwhile, smaller parties such as the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Scottish National Party (SNP) could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament after May 2015. What are the predicted outcomes of the upcoming election, and how can we accurately forecast the vote? What …

From the University of Cambridge comes ELECTION, a weekly politics podcast; asking the questions that no one else is in the run-up to the British General Election with the most interesting people inside and outside the political arena. Here below are the sixth and the seventh podcasts. #6 – Rae Langton on Charlie Hebdo, hate vs free speech & blasphemy What constitutes hate speech? Does the Press do more harm than good in our democracy? When should words become the government’s business? We put these questions to Professor Rae Langton – award-winning philosopher and the world’s ‘fourth most influential woman thinker’ – and discuss whether free speech can ever be reconciled with a need to suppress hateful voices. The team then discuss the fallout of Ed Miliband’s ‘second kitchen’, whether politicians can – or should – keep their families out of the media spotlight, and the lessons from the Israeli election result.