Sunday, November 16, 2014

Electoral Ping-Pong

A tied election in Florida was decided by drawing numbered ping-pong balls out of a bag. In fact, they drew names out of a bag, to decide who got to call a coin toss, to decide who drew the first ball - sounds like something worthy of Venice! Some interesting comments on the piece too, ranging from those who suggest that we may as well select all politicians by lottery to those who suggest that an IQ test would be better.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lotteries Improve Access

A study, involving academics from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, has concluded that lotteries for school admissions can improve access to elite universities. This is, as long-time readers may remember, a topic that I've previously published on.

The news coverage linked to above is only from a student newspaper, but I couldn't help thinking it interesting that, by way of balance, they include the opinion of a 2nd year undergraduate. While I'm sure there are some good arguments against lotteries, these weren't really explored - rather, the coverage seemed to exhibit false balance.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Democracy and Referenda

Here's a selection of popular pieces on democracy and referenda... Martin Gilbert applauds the Scottish independence referendum for bringing about greater engagement and participation. George Schöpflin cautions that referenda are unaccountable and may be instruments of populism, rather than democracy. Chris Prosser points out that agenda-setters are often able to manipulate referendum outcomes. Alex Hern argues that the government's use of referenda is opportunistic, rather than principled.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I've been quiet of late. Partly due to on-going technical issues, but mostly because I've been gearing up to move to the other end of the country (again). From next week, I officially take up a new position at the University of Southampton. My new department has an active group blog, Politics Upside Down, so maybe I'll be blogging there as well as here (and occasionally elsewhere) in future.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

EUDO Debate on Secession

Hot on the heels of my last bit of guest-blogging, I was recently invited to contribute to a EUDO debate on secession. You can read my contribution here and the whole debate here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ask the Experts: Scottish Constitution

I'm one of the experts sharing my thoughts on the draft Scottish Constitution over at the Democratic Audit today.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Attitudes to Alcohol Pricing

A new survey reveals that Scottish attitudes to minimum pricing legislation are split, with slightly more in favour than against the measure. Interestingly, "People educated to degree level were much more likely to approve of minimum pricing than those who were not". So much for the liberalising effect of higher education! (I've written on this here [subscription required].)

Labels: , , ,