Politics student Chris Imms to represent University of Reading on University Challenge

Politics and Economics student Chris Imms has been chosen to represent University of Reading on University Challenge. Chris, who was selected from a pool of sixty student applicants joins four other UoR students to form the University’s team on the BBC show widely regarded as a national institution. Chris qualified for the team after extensive testing through examination; where he finished in the top 5 out of the sixty UoR students who put themselves forward.

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Peter Campbell Memorial Lecture

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Latin America Confronts the United States: Asymmetry and influence

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Why the Golden Dawn is a Neo-Nazi Party

Daphne Halikiopoulou (University of Reading) and Sofia Vasilopoulou (University of York), first posted on Huffington Post

With the on-going Golden Dawn trial in Greece there has been much debate as to whether the Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi group. The party itself has rejected the Neo-Nazi label, arguing that that this terminology may only be applied to Hitler’s regime. They instead term themselves ‘Greek nationalists’, emphasising that the party does not espouse the ideas of German National Socialism of the inter-war period. Proponents of terming the Golden Dawn Neo-Nazi have focused on the party’s past use of Nazi symbols, for example the swastika, the Nazi anthem and various other paraphernalia. The Golden Dawn however has been careful to remove such references in its more recent activities, since its election in 2012. Continue reading

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Anti-immigrant attitudes in the UK are among the strongest in Europe

Dr Tim Vlandas, First posted at LSE Brexit blog

The vote for Brexit took place. I had hoped that this would have been the end of the obsession with immigration. Brexit would allow the UK to ‘take back control’ of  its immigration policy, thereby nullifying the need for politicians to talk about it on an almost daily basis. However, in fact the reverse is happening. Having decided to leave the EU, the vote is increasingly interpreted as a call to end immigration almost entirely and, furthermore, it is discussed even more often and more negatively than before the referendum.

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GEOPOLITICS AND TRADE – What Sir Halford Mackinder would have said about the Referendum

A singular failure of the current referendum campaign that can be attributed equally to both sides has been an absence of any attempt to articulate the nature of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics I do not mean its current form of usage: serving merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. What can be described as classical geopolitics is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history and strategy. The reason why geopolitics can provide guidance in practical matters is because it doesn’t obey the artificial boundaries of disciplinary knowledge; it requires synthetic thought to address policy problems and issues. Furthermore, the problems and issues themselves do not respect those boundaries: nor do the solutions. Continue reading

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‘Once more unto the breach’

‘Once more unto the breach’ –

On Hillary Benn and Fighting Wars with Words

Dr Nadya Ali

Shadow Home Secretary Hillary Benn has emerged as the unlikely oratory hero through his speech to the House of Commons during the debate on whether to carry out airstrikes in Syria. It has been hailed as ‘extraordinary’ and as one “that will go down as one of the truly great speeches made in this House of Commons”. Benn has been described as ‘the mouse that roared’ and now even as a potential leadership candidate. The effusive coverage of the speech comes in the aftermath of the successful vote which enables the extension of British airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS) from Iraq into Syria. Leaving aside the context of internal Labour party politics, Benn’s words have a resonance and political utility that extend far beyond the party. Nadya Ali argues despite the plaudits and unlike Shakespeare’s Henry V, Benn did not deliver a great speech but simply the right speech. Continue reading

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How do we decide what is in the national interest?

Dr Adam Humphreys

David Cameron recently described Jeremy Corbyn’s support for nuclear disarmament as a threat to national security. During his premiership, Gordon Brown argued for sweeping reforms to tackle global challenges such as climate change, poverty and the failing banking system, all in the name of ‘the national interest’. But how should we evaluate such political rhetoric? Adam Humphreys highlights the distinction between reformist and conservative reasoning in deciding what a nation really needs. Continue reading

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Electoral Disproportionality: What Is It and How Should We Measure It?

Alan Renwick

Note: A shorter, less technical version of this post is available on the Constitution Unit blog. Readers seeking a quick answer to the question of whether the UK election was the most disproportional the UK has seen are encouraged to go there.

In a report published earlier this month, the Electoral Reform Society declares the 2015 general election “the most disproportional election to date in the UK”. The ERS’s website cranks up the rhetoric further: “It’s official: this election was the most disproportionate in UK history.” In marked contrast, my own first cut at analysing the election results, published a few weeks earlier, said that this was not the UK’s most disproportional election: that, indeed, it was the least disproportional since 1992. Continue reading

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What Does Eurovision 2015 Tell Us about Voting Systems?

Would a different voting system have produced a different result in Eurovision 2015? And what are the implications for our understanding of the merits of different electoral rules? In this post, Dr Alan Renwick investigates.

The Eurovision Song Contest is over for another year and Sweden has been crowned the winner. But can we be confident that Sweden really deserve the crown? We know that different electoral systems can produce very different outcomes. That applies to Eurovision just as much as to any other contest: in 2011, for example, while Azerbaijan won the official vote, other voting systems that are widely used in public elections around the world would have given the top spot to Bosnia and Italy. So could different counting rules have selected a different winner this time round? Continue reading

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