When Citizens Assemble

Ireland’s efforts to break a political deadlock over its de facto ban on abortion inspired a bold response – the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly to tackle on the issue. During five weekends spread over five months, a random selection of Irish people deliberated on the highly divisive and controversial issue. Their conclusion, in April […]

Interviewing racists

Great job by the Guardian reporter Gary Younge in nailing the US white supremacist Richard B Spencer in an interview. Exposing spectacular ignorance is the best defence against champions of racism. Spencer would be comical if he weren’t so dangerous. “If Africans had never existed, world history would have been almost exactly the same as […]

Democracy: trick or treat?

I was delighted to present this GlobalNet21 webinar on October 31, 2017 about my ongoing project for a nine-film series on democracy in crisis and real-world efforts to transform the way we do it. It includes a sneak preview of today’s working edit of the series launch film. The film features Ireland’s use of a […]

Talking migration, foreigners, racism

I’m a migrant. I left my native Scotland at 18 and haven’t lived there since. Having moved between a few different countries for study and work I now live in rural southwest France. I’ve been here for 12 years and counting. The experiences of all that moving has both exposed me to many foreigners and […]

Working for Way Deeper Democracy

I am excited about a nascent democracy innovation project – called Way Deeper Democracy – for which I am seeking partners, supporters, funders and everyday political visionaries. I imagine partners coming maybe from among media organisations, academic researchers, grassroots democracy activists, progressive foundations and, maybe, even existing politicians or political organisations. That could mean you.

Deeper democracy down under

Government of the people, by the people, for the people – seems like a good basic principle for “democracy”. Yet many groups of citizens, in different representative democracies around the world, don’t seem too happy with their current versions of “kratos” in the hands of the “demos“. Be they UK “Brexit” or Remain supporters, or […]

Some other democracies are possible

Smith’s book – Democratic Innovations – does an excellent job in helping move debate about the poor state of our representative democracies from the abstract to the practical and real.

His approach is to focus on which of a series of democratic innovations, present or recently past, could best take us towards more democratic modes of government. He takes a refreshingly pragmatic approach, pointing towards how democracy could occur with barely an elected politician in sight, if at all.

Transforming talk of politics

The last few months – be it via the UK’s Brexit vote, in US presidential campaigning or the Hungarian government’s demonising of refugees – have all made clear how badly our societies communicate their politics. We don’t hear, let alone understand what other people are trying to say and they, in turn, are deaf to us […]

Democracy talk – Episode 3: Brexit

Yoram Gat and Patrick Chalmers chew over the UK’s Brexit vote – the June 23 decision by a majority of British voters to leave the European Union. Patrick argues that the referendum campaign, the vote itself and its messy aftermath show the many layers of Britain’s dysfunctional political system, made clearer than ever. The case […]