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About Stuart Weir

Stuart Weir is a political activist. He was formerly editor of the New Statesman when he launched Charter 88, and director of Democratic Audit at Essex University.

Articles by Stuart Weir

This week's editor

Dawn Foster, Co-Editor

Dawn Foster is Co-Editor at 5050 and a freelance journalist.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Electoral reform - a bout of opportune amnesia

The electoral system is one of the most divisive and damaging fault lines in British democracy. But the reform movement itself is fatally flawed.

The Convention on Modern Liberty

The Magna Carta 2015 conference in Cambridge this weekend will provide the last chance to buy the book on openDemocracy's 2009 "Convention on Modern Liberty".

Wealth and want in England's fair land

An English city celebrated for its prosperity is riven with extreme inequality, poverty and inadequate housing.

Rule Britannia

Today’s parallel with feudal 1215 is the absolute dominance of a “collective monarchy”, combining the power not merely of the Westminster state but also of the corporate and financial institutions and their elites. 

Basic income – transforming benefits in the era of the precariat

The time has come to seriously consider basic income - the current system of coercive sanctions and meagre benefits is not fit for purpose.

Britain faces UN investigation over systemic violations of disability rights

Causing uproar amongst the Coalition, the likelihood of a UN investigation is not only deeply shameful, but a testament to the rapid regression of disabled rights and quality of life that the government has overseen.

Two books, two approaches to breaking the British deadlock

Dissenters to the dystopic state of Britain, like David Marquand and Michael Meacher MP, set out the inequalities and economic policies than disfigure British society and propose overlapping remedies. Given the power of the institutions ranged against us, can we—and they—possibly prevail? 

Surrender on welfare

The Labour party's capitulation on social security for the young is not an appropriate response to the modern world, but a dangerous step into the past.

Basic Income: transforming lives in rural India

An experiment in paying villagers in some of India’s poorest villages a modest regular cash payment without conditions has transformed their lives. It could provide an effective anti-poverty programme for all India’s poor. But which way will Narendra Modi jump?

Review: 'The Precariat Charter' - building an alternative

Labour and social democratic parties in general are succumbing weakly to the demands of global capital and neo-liberal policies.  Stuart Weir hails a bold new initiative, a transformational Magna Carta for our times.

Book review - The Blunders of our Governments

Modern governments of all stripes screw up too often.  A new study of their blunders suggests that ‘strong government’, traditionally the great strength of the governing system, is to blame.  Let’s hear it for deliberative democracy.

Tony Benn: a memoir

Stuart Weir was an early Bennite in the 1970s, fell out with his hero over Tony Benn’s campaign against the Labour Party leadership in the 1980s, and fell for him again when he became a popular sage after 2001.  Here he explains a complex relationship with Labour’s  most inspiring politician.

Small earthquake in Britain - devastates the economy

The 50p tax rate would apparently have minimal impact but also be devastating to the UK economy. It's worth recalling similar arguments made against the 1981 proposal for a maximum salary cap of four times average wage.

The government's gagging law is still a dangerous shambles

While severely limiting the ability of civil society to function for a full year before a general election, the primary alleged targets of the bill - professional lobbyists - escape largely unharmed.

A monstrous right royal carbuncle

Vernon Bogdanor would have us believe that the Prince of Wales’s “controversial” meddling in public policy is a good thing. But Prince Charles’s interventions and lobbying activities demean our democracy – and have deprived the public realm of great architecture.

The government's new gagging law is a serious attack on Britain's civil society

While doing virtually nothing to fix the real problems of money in politics, the government is trying to introduce a new law that will shut down vast swathes of political commentary and scrutiny for a whole year before general elections.

David Miranda: terrorist or tourist?

The debate roars on as Theresa May insists the detaining of our citizens is for our own protection, but how far and how deep can this controversy go?

The double betrayal - review of NHS SOS

The left is forever being condemned for talking of ‘betrayal’.  But it is our responsibility to describe accurately the lies and strategy that lie behind the dismemberment of the NHS and the blatant disregard of the people’s wishes – it is a ‘double betrayal’.

Abu Qatada's saga is a triumph for British rule of law, not a failure

The demonisation of the European Court of Human Rights over the long failure to deport Abu Qatada is likely to be intensified by the Court’s ruling against whole life tariffs. Neither case will get the human rights perspective that they deserve in either Parliament or our baying media.  

No retreat, no surrender

Labour’s shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan spoke out strongly for universal human rights, the Human Rights Act and checks on government powers.  Will his party colleagues, and possibly their potential allies after 2015, the Lib Dems, be as bold if they are in power?

In the thick of it - a review of '5 days in May: the Coalition and beyond'

Andrew Adonis’s insider account of the Lab-Lib coalition talks provides a vivid and vital, and often surprising, insight into the crucial politics of the day – and is also particularly relevant to the prospects for both parties after the 2015 general election.

The best way to defend the UK's role in the EU is to be honest about its failings

Nigel Lawson's provocations on the EU question raise some important points. It is no longer tenable to trot out the same tired arguments for the Union. It has very serious failings. A positive account of the UK's membership must address them head on.

Transparency International raises serious concerns about corruption in the UK

The creep of the market into almost all areas of public life has brought with it a steady and damaging growth in corruption. Both the media and the political class insist the UK is largely free of corruption, a claim that no longer stands up.

Be it ever so humble!

Forget “Home, Sweet Home”. The British government’s bedroom tax humbles families in social housing, depriving them of the dignity to call their home their own, forcing many of them to move and driving some into homelessness.

UK becomes world's second largest outsourcing market

Stuart Weir responds to news that the UK is now second only to America as an outsourcing market. The UK's "new enclosure movement" is fast transforming the British state into one marked by foodbanks and 'toll booths'.

‘Not in Our Name’: Why MPs remain powerless to stop Britain going to war

The massive 2003 public campaign against Blair’s attempt to take the UK into war against Iraq demanded a war powers rule in Parliament to ensure that no government could ever again commit the country to war without Parliament’s approval. A decade later, the fight goes on for the ruling.

Add voter suppression to the disadvantages of the poor and marginal

The debate over the boundary review has overshadowed an imminent threat to British democracy. Proposed changes to the electoral register are likely to see voter numbers fall significantly. Who are these people? The young, the poor and the disadvantaged.

A 'Fresh Start' for Britain in Europe?

A new manifesto, 'Fresh Start', has been published by a group of Conservative MPs proposing a new relationship between the UK and EU. The (not so hidden) agenda: sweeping away many of the rights that protect British workers from exploitation.

The welfare state is dead – what is rising from the grave?

The old welfare state cannot survive the global financial crisis. Beneath the Punch and Judy debate, what is the Coalition  putting in its place? And what is the alternative?

Three reasons why I'm changing my mind about a British Bill of Rights

A Commission has just reported in whether Britain needs its own Bill of Rights instead of relying on the European Convention. It divided as a Conservative majority says it does. They convinced Stuart Weir, a long time supporter of such a Bill, to change his mind!

Tax avoidance: indignation only gets us so far...

There has been a huge shift in public opinion in the UK on big corporations and rich individuals avoiding tax. How best to build on this?

UKIP, 'child catchers' and dignity

The latest scandal over foster services and the UKIP party reveal how low the British press can stoop. Will Leveson help at all?

Why Jews are proud to be Spurs fans

Are Spurs fan's chants of 'Yid army" anti-semitic, as the Society of Black Lawyers have claimed, or this is a case of appropriating terminology as a means of nullifying it?

A response to my critics on child benefit

A piece on the proposed limits to child benefit prompted a vigorous comment thread. Its author responds. 

The poisonous logic behind cuts to child benefit

Before British families bid what could be a final farewell to universal child benefit, we take a look at what is motivating Iain Duncan Smith.

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