What next for the PCCs? Powerlessness, that’s what

The votes are in, the turnout worse than even the gloomy predictions, and as counting proceeds I’m being asked “What next for the PCCs?” Some commentators are talking about the low turnout undermining the Commissioners’ legitimacy, leaving them no mandate for radical action. That’s true. And beside the point. Because I suspect that the PCCs, while nominally in charge and having lots of formal decision-making … Continue reading What next for the PCCs? Powerlessness, that’s what

PCC elections: why they are failing, why we should vote anyway

The England and Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections are nearly upon us. Sigh. Yet another promise of greater democracy when in fact it is no such thing. The reasons why these elections are barely above the level of a Monty Python joke have been well-rehearsed, but the principal problem is this: the lack of funding for candidates. Election campaigns cost a lot of … Continue reading PCC elections: why they are failing, why we should vote anyway

Freedom of information, and the private provision of public services

I’ve been a bit slow getting onto this — start of the new academic year and it’s the usual tidal wave of joyous new faces, committee meetings and form-filling — but I’ve been thinking about something from last week’s Labour Party Conference. I’m not much of a conference follower, but the news of Sadiq Khan MP‘s speech which pledged to subject private companies delivering public … Continue reading Freedom of information, and the private provision of public services

Honours: why “doing the day job” is more important than the PASC thinks

The Commons Public Administration Committee (PASC) has just released its latest report on the British Honours system: the arcane process of doling out OBEs, knighthoods and so on. The report is highly critical both of the lack of transparency of the entire process, and the continuing tendency for gongs to be awarded to “the usual suspects” – captains of industry, civil servants, politicians and so on … Continue reading Honours: why “doing the day job” is more important than the PASC thinks

Why I am a democrat

  One of the upsides – or downsides, depending on your point of view – of being an academic is that one is sometimes forced to reconsider one’s basic commitments. Perhaps that should happen more often than it does, but the fact that it happens at all is a minor miracle of modern life. I’ve recently been reconsidering one of my basic commitments – to … Continue reading Why I am a democrat

Hopes fade for a more deliberative House of Lords too?

To the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust“… …House of Lords reform fails again, despite all three major parties promising it in their election manifestos in 2010. Sigh. Yet again progressives’ principles founder on the rocks of party interests, and yet again they either failed to spot the rocks, or — a more charitable interpretation — lacked enough power to steer round them. At the end of the … Continue reading Hopes fade for a more deliberative House of Lords too?