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The Burns report on Shrinking the Lords: Where are we, One Year on?

In recent years the size of the House of Lords has become increasingly controversial, with the number of members standing at around 800 – up from fewer than 700 in 1999. In December 2016, following a motion in the House of Lords itself demanding action, the Lord Speaker's Committee on the Size of the House was established, chaired by the Crossbencher Lord (Terry) Burns. It reported at the end of October 2017, proposing a system of phased retirements, crucially combined with a more regulated and sustainable system for new appointments. At this event Lord Burns will reflect upon progress (or lack thereof) since his report was published, alongside Labour's Baroness (Ann) Taylor of Bolton, who served on his committee and chairs the House of Lords Constitution Committee, and Conservative Sir Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC).

Starts: Nov 28, 2018 5:30:00 PM

Digital Democracy: brave new world or bubble and hype?

Digital campaigning has received a bad press recently. But the internet also has huge potential to engage and mobilise people, and enable them to be more active citizens.  This seminar brings together three leading figures from new democracy organisations to talk about ways in which technology can enhance democratic participation, and also about some of its limitations.

Starts: Dec 3, 2018 6:15:00 PM

Democratic Competition: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ian Shapiro discusses the varieties of political competition across the democratic world. He shows why efforts to reform political parties over the past several decades to make them more democratic have backfired, compounding voter alienation, undermining good governance, and empowering demagogues and other populists. He also explains what needs to be done to reverse the trend. This talk draws from his new book with Frances Rosenbluth: Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy from Itself (Yale University Press, 2018).

Starts: Dec 12, 2018 6:00:00 PM

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The Unit's Blog


Reflecting on HRH The Prince of Wales’s Role as Heir to the Throne

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

To mark the Prince of Wales’s 70th Birthday, Robert Hazell reflects on the difficult role of Heir to the Throne, with reference to the roles of heirs apparent in other Western European monarchies. This comparative material has been assembled as part of our preparation for a forthcoming conference on monarchies in western Europe, to be […]

Monitor 70 — Brexit: the uncertain road ahead

Monday, 12 November 2018

The latest issue of Monitor, the Constitution Unit’s regular newsletter, was published today. Since the last issue, the prospects of a Brexit deal occurring before March have oscillated, calls for a ‘people’s vote’ have increased in volume, and Brexit differences have led to relations between the UK government and politicians from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland […]

Mandatory reselection: lessons from Labour’s past

Thursday, 08 November 2018

At the Labour Party conference in September, a union-backed compromise led to changes in the way parliamentary candidates are selected by their constituencies. Eric Shaw explains how the debate is reminiscent of the internal party struggles of the 1980s, and how the current struggles over this issue differ from the discord of the past. At the […]

How did people’s expectations of the consequences of Brexit affect their vote?

Tuesday, 06 November 2018

As the Brexit negotiations grind towards a conclusion, there is much talk of what it means to honour the 2016 referendum result, and of whether another referendum should be held once the Brexit terms are known. A new paper by Stephen Fisher and the Unit’s Alan Renwick sheds fresh light on these issues, examining what […]

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