'The UK: a case of democratic backsliding?' Workshops materials available.
This workshop discussed recent constitutional and political developments in the UK as a possible case of democratic backsliding. Democratic backsliding involves a retreat from values such as the rule of law and human rights in order to diminish pluralism and constrain criticism and opposition, thereby moving from democratic to autocratic rule. Governments engaged in democratic backsliding progressively undermine five components of democracy.
First, these governments diminish the fairness of elections and amend the constitution to entrench their own ideological preferences and minimise political competition.
Second, they attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary by appointing only loyal supporters and re-organising the judicial system to favour the incumbent government.
Third, they undermine universal human rights protection and respect for legality.
Fourth, they corrode standards of conduct and accountability in public life.
Fifth, they diminish freedom of speech through control over media outlets, using legal measures to attack criticism of the government, and stifle political debate.
Until recently limited to post-communist states, these developments can now arguably be observed in the UK, raising concerns about the overall quality of democracy.
Papers are now available:
- Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society – The Electoral System
- Paul Wragg, Professor of Media Law, School of Law, University of Leeds – The Media
- Nick Allen, Professor of Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London – Standards in Public Life
- Fiona Rutherford, Chief Executive, Justice – Human Rights Reforms
- Lord David Neuberger of Abbotsbury, former President of the Supreme Court – The Judiciary