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Populism, power and place

  • Date(s)
    11 September 2014
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Populism, power and place

Can devolution tackle the drivers of populism?

Policy Network and the Barrow Cadbury Trust will host a breakfast seminar in partnership with Renewal Journal to consider the lessons of devolution since the 1990s and the merits of the current devolution agenda in terms of tackling the drivers of populism and restoring trust in politics.

The UK is one of the most centralised democracies in the OECD. The mainstream parties have recently put emphasis on devolution both as a driver of economic growth and wealth creation (Adonis Review, Heseltine Review) and to give communities new powers to shape their own futures alongside or independent of the central state (IPPR's Condition of Britain, Local Government Innovation Task Force, The Big Society).

Ahead of the Scottish referendum, this seminar will consider whether greater devolution can help politicians win back trust and democratic legitimacy, and foster positive forms of place-based identity and contact democracy in an era where power rests at multiple levels and one nation approaches have limits.

The event is part of Policy Network and the Barrow Cadbury Trust's ongoing project entitled "Understanding the Populist Signal."


Sara Llewellin, chief executive, Barrow Cadbury Trust


Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King's College London

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive, Local Government Information Unit (LGiU)

Gerry Hassan, research fellow in cultural policy, University of the West of Scotland

Kat Healy, policy, research and evaluation officer, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland

Joe Goldberg, cabinet member of Haringey council

Questions for debate

•    How much is devolution, localism, the 'big society' and place-based politics an antidote to populism and anti-politics?
•    Can we learn anything from the way the SNP has argued that a new institutional arrangement could lead to a better national economic, social and cultural future?
•    How can new forms of contact democracy renew faith in politics and close the gap that has developed between governments and citizens?
•    Can creating new devolved institutions enhance contact democracy?
•    How has devolution impacted on politics in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales?

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