Book Review: Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato to the Present

Patrick Dunleavy reviews a fascinating, but flawed, history of democratic thinking from an American perspective. It throws often unexpected light on democratic innovations through the ages; and if the government’s project to slice the UK electorate up into equal constituencies is your bag, you can get stuck in here.

George G. Szpiro, Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato […]

The leaders court the CBI, ‘Cleansing’ welfare cuts, and Cameron grapples with the EU budget – round up of political blogs for 23-29 October

Avery Hancock, Amy Mollett, and Paul Rainford take a look at the week in political blogging.


After a busy week of blogging on the Commercial Spending Review, Next Left discuss the results of a ComRes poll showing that 59% of those questioned believe that cuts proposed in the CSR are unfair.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives continue to remain strong in the opinion […]

The coalition government is introducing major constitutional changes but does not have a coherent overall constitutional strategy. The results will not provide a stable basis either for British liberties, democracy or its constitution

Many commentators concerned about civil liberties severely criticised policies under the last Labour government that encroached on key constitutional protections, such as introducing ID cards and vast surveillance databases. The new coalition government is rolling back these adverse measures, and has embarked on far reaching constitutional reforms, chief of which is the referendum on the Alternative Vote next May. […]

Can the Chancellor still influence voting patterns in the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England?

The MPC at the Bank of England was set up to make independent judgements about interest rate policy. But after studying every decision the Committee made over an eleven year period, Simon Hix, Nick Vivyan and Bjørn Høyland find evidence that by appointing members of the MPC the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to alter the balance […]

LSE’s mappiness project may help us track the national mood: but how much should we consider happiness in deciding public policy?

It is impossible to open the papers today without reading about how the Government’s cuts will cause ‘misery’ or ‘unhapiness’ for particular organizations, socio-economic classes, regions, or communities. Yet how can we actually measure individual well-being across time and space? George MacKerron and Susana Mourato of LSE’s Department of Geography and Environment and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change […]

If the Alternative Vote had been in use at the 2010 general election, the Liberal Democrats would have won 32 more seats, and a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition would also have had a Commons majority

How would the main political parties gain or suffer in future Alternative Vote (AV) elections, if UK voters approve changing systems in the May 2011 referendum? David Sanders, Paul Whiteley and colleagues have authoritatively replayed the May 2010 general election. The Liberal Democrats would have been the big gainers, winning many more seats and no longer being reliant on […]

Ringfencing aid may do more harm than good

Nilima Gulrajani explains that Increasing the aid budget as other departments cut theirs will erode the long-run effectiveness of the development programme.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is a highly performing development agency, the world’s best in many global rankings of aid donors and a powerful symbol of Britain’s commitment to international development. Nevertheless, supporters of foreign aid need […]

The 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review: The economics of the cuts agenda are neither justified nor just

Last week’s Comprehensive Spending Review detailed the largest cuts to public spending since the Second World War. In John Van Reenen’s judgement, the speed and scale of the cuts are not economically justified because the previous government’s plans would have also dealt with the deficit with much less danger to the economic recovery. The Review is also unjust, hitting the […]

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This work by British Politics and Policy at LSE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.