It’s my party and I’ll join if I want to: explaining the Labour/Conservative divide

by Tim Bale, Paul Webb and Monica Poletti

Party membership is vital to the health of our representative democracy. Members contribute significantly to election campaigns and to party finances. They are the people who pick party leaders. They constitute the pool from which parties choose their candidates. And they help anchor the parties to the principles and people they came into politics to promote and protect.

The Party Members Project began just after the 2015 general election. We surveyed members of the six biggest parties with the support of ESRC funding and YouGov’s huge internet panel.

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Spotting the fake

Marina Jirotka 150x150

Marina Jirotka

Helena Webb 150x150

Helena Webb

Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing, Associate Director of the Oxford e-Research Centre and Associate Researcher of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Helena Webb is a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford.

Here they consider what can be done by government and social media platforms to tackle the problem of fake news.

As campaigning in the UK General Election gained momentum in April 2017, the Chairman of the Government’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee called for Facebook to improve its handling of fake news on the platform. Referencing concerns that the spread of false stories across social media had influenced the results of the 2016 US Presidential election, Damian Collins MP suggested that the propagation of content of this kind could threaten the ‘integrity of democracy’. Continue reading

The rejected experts

‘Why was the evidence of academic experts ignored in the run-up to the Brexit result? And what can academics do about it?’ asks Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics and Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield.

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One of the most interesting and worrying elements of the Brexit debate was the manner in which expert opinion was to some extent dismissed and sidelined in favour of more emotive arguments. Continue reading