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British Politics

On June 23rd, 2016, the citizens of the UK voted to leave the European Union. This began an unprecedented process of dissociation, commonly known as Brexit. Among the many challenges that Brexit poses is how to handle the border between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. In the recent past, the “soft” border between the two nations has allowed for the free flow of people and goods. However, if Brexit negotiations fail, a “hard” border will replace the currently soft border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. This presents a problem because under present conditions the border allows for mutually beneficial economic and social exchange, as well as having been instrumental in guaranteeing the Northern Irish peace process. This border …

Cybersecurity has become a major concern for governments, companies and citizens, as some of their most sensitive information is routinely stored and communicated online. Rogue attackers can steal confidential information or corrupt their databases, potentially leading to critical security incidents ranging from reputational damages and economic losses to national security risks. The threat, however, works in two ways. While companies and governments are concerned about being targets of digital infiltration, they have used these technologies to obtain extensive information from common citizens for crime and terrorism prevention or commercial purposes. Collecting geolocationdata and screening social networks are now common practices, relatively easy to carry out due to the embedded features of modern devices. For years, many surveillance practices were conducted …

Reshuffles are a chance to revive the fortunes of a Prime Minister by changing the faces of their Cabinet and Government. January’s offered much but delivered less; the occupants of key Cabinet positions remained in place after all. May’s big beasts stood their ground, seemingly immovable; Justine Greening was the most prominent and the only woman to exit the Cabinet. The optics of Theresa May’s reshuffle became, at this point, about increasing diversity. But this neither told the real diversity story of the reshuffle, nor made an adequate case for diversity in the executive. Increasing diversity in their Cabinets appears to be of increasing importance to leaders and has been shown to have beneficial impacts on both policy outcomes and …

The liberal philosopher A.C. Grayling is one of the foremost opponents of Brexit. No doubt he salutes the bravery of those Tory MPs dubbed ‘mutineers’ by the Daily Telegraph when they brought about Theresa May’s first Commons defeat as they supported an amendment to her EU withdrawal bill to give Parliament a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal”. These Tory MPs defied the so-called ‘party whip’. Whips are MPs appointed by parties in Parliament to do what they can to make sure party members vote the way the party wants. Grayling is not a fan of the whipping system in general: he regards whipping as ‘undemocratic’, and he connects it to increasing levels of mistrust in MPs and …
Photo of sign that reads "polling station".

Some six months before Theresa May called a surprise general election, The Road to Somewhere was published. In it, David Goodhart argues that the old political divide, between left-wingers and right-wingers, has been superseded. The electorate, Goodhart claims, is now better divided between “anywheres” and “somewheres”.  Peter Wiggins looks at the Goodhart argument in the context of the 2017 general election. Of “Anywheres”, “Somewheres” and “Inbetweeners” According to The Road to Somewhere, roughly 25% of the population are “anywheres” – they are mobile, metropolitan, liberal, tolerant, at home wherever they may be, and wary of group attachment. These voters are likely to be highly educated, and they tend to approve of “mass immigration,” subscribing, as Goodhart puts it, to “progressive …

Coverage of recent polls has suggested that women are becoming more supportive of Labour and that this is driving the recent tightening of the election race. The figure below shows the average vote intention separately for men and women on average using data from a range of different pollsters (see methodological note below). At the beginning of May there was very little gender gap. The Conservative lead was much the same for men as for women. For polls conducted in the past week, on average the Conservatives still had a large, 14-point lead amongst men, but only a small, 4-point lead amongst women. Compared with the start of May, women are now 7 points more likely to vote Labour than …

  Since the general election was called Labour have gone up in the GB vote intention polls while the Liberal Democrats and especially UKIP have dropped. The Conservatives have fluctuated but on average remained steady. The following graph shows the overall trends. Looking at those pollsters that have published at least two polls since 18th April, the picture is pretty consistent for Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. As following three graphs of GB polls by fieldwork end date show, the trends are pretty much the same for nearly all pollsters. The more complicated picture is for the Conservatives. They went up on average at the beginning of the campaign, but, as the graph below shows, this was true for some …

On April 19, 2017, parliament voted to endorse the government’s motion to hold a UK general election on 8 June 2017. This was the first time that the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) were invoked. When the Act was introduced in 2011, the coalition government justified it by arguing that “fixed-term parliaments will have a positive impact on our country’s political system; providing stability, discouraging short-termism, and preventing the manipulation of election dates for political advantage.” Yet, the ease with which Prime Minister Theresa May was able to trigger the early election in light of her 21 point opinion poll lead over Labour over the Easter weekend appeared to cast doubt on its ability to deliver these aims. …