Author Archive

Matthew Flinders

Matthew Flinders is Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is also Chair of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom and is Visiting Distinguished Professor of Governance and Public Policy at Murdoch University in Western Australia. He recently contributed to a small success for democratic reform and innovation when the Speaker of the House of Commons overturned a decision by the Administration Committee not to project a huge voter registration sign on the side of Big Ben. He is author of Defending Politics (2012) - See more at:

Democratic pressure is building, cracks and fault-lines are emerging and at some point the British political elite will have to let the people speak about where power should lie and how they should be governed. ‘Speak’ in this sense does not relate to the casting of votes — the General Election will not vent the pressure — but to a deeper form of democracy that facilitates both ‘democratic voice’ and ‘democratic listening’. 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. One critical component of this frenetic period of reform has been the absence of any explicit or managed process for civic engagement even though the Prime Minister’s statement on the 19 September 2014 emphasized that ‘It is also important we have wider civic engagement about how to improve governance in our United Kingdom, including how to empower our great cities. And we will say more about this in the coming days’. The days and months have passed but no plan for civic engagement has been announced. In the meantime, calls for a citizen-led constitutional convention have been made with ever increasing regularity and volume.