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The populist signal: Why politics and democracy need to change

  • Date(s)
    17 June 2015
  • Time
  • Location
    Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace
The populist signal: Why politics and democracy need to change
The UK election of 2015 was fought against a backdrop of widespread disengagement with the mainstream parties, voter apathy and growing contempt for the practice of politics. Despite the apparent closeness of the race, voter turnout was only up one per cent from 2010; once again, the biggest party was non-voters.

The Conservatives may have won a majority, but the political map is now more fragmented than before, with clear regional divides and a different party dominating in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.$0$0The emergence of Ukip on the scene has underlined cultural divides through stirring reactionary and hyperbolic political debates on issues such as immigration, Europe and welfare. The populist party played a disruptive role, coming second in over 100 seats and third in vote share with almost four million votes.

Against this backdrop, Policy Network and the Barrow Cadbury Trust will launch a major report on understanding the political drivers of populism. Drawing on new polling, interviews and case studies, the report, authored by Claudia Chwalisz, details the extent to which large swathes of voters feel that politics does not represent or work for them, and considers how this undermines political stability and community cohesion. Setting out a range of ideas for democratic innovations to reconnect people with politics, it contends that populism is a corrective warning signal to parties and governments to revisit their approaches to governance and political representation.

Presentation: The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change
Claudia Chwalisz, Researcher, Policy Network and Crook Public Service Fellow, University of Sheffield

Debate and responses: The long-term decline of political trust and engagement in Britain
Will Jennings, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Southampton
Can tackling political alienation with democratic innovations help Labour rebuild support?
Steve Reed, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Labour MP for Croydon North
The exception: Populism and the participatory surge in Scotland
Rob Johns, Deputy Head of the Department of Government, University of Essex
Chair: Patrick Diamond, Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London and Vice Chair, Policy Network

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