“I believe”: Ofsted, religious education and public debate

Today’s news about a critical Ofsted report into the state of religious education in England got me thinking about the role of “belief” in modern politics and policy. My starting point is the thought that the religious emphasis on belief and faith is the opposite of the scientific emphasis on doubt, questioning, evidence, and so on. Most thoughtful religious people accept that — if the spiritual … Continue reading “I believe”: Ofsted, religious education and public debate

The traps of direct democracy: how not to fall into them

I took part in an interesting “hangout” discussion last night on ITN‘s Truthloader channel – here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riI51xO3BsM. The topic was whether new technology allows us to govern ourselves directly, and thus change politics in a way that has never been possible before. The discussion included Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an activist and MP from Iceland who’s been driving some radical changes to the Icelandic constitution using some … Continue reading The traps of direct democracy: how not to fall into them

The US elections: my confident prediction

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that political science departments often run sweepstakes around elections.What might surprise you is that the election specialists or national politics gurus rarely win. In my experience – admittedly not a huge sample – the winners are more likely to be (a) the secretaries and (b) the political theorists. Probably because those are the people paying less attention to … Continue reading The US elections: my confident prediction

The AV referendum: a post-mortem

This post first appeared on an earlier incarnation of the Boggler Blog on 12 May, 2011. So, the proponents of voting reform in the UK lost. Entirely expected, although I resisted writing a pre-mortem. What went wrong? And could it have been avoided? First, there was the product. The Alternative Vote system was loved by almost no-one, not even its proponents. Nick Clegg is often … Continue reading The AV referendum: a post-mortem