The World Economic Forum estimates the cost of corruption to be more than 5% of global GDP (US $2.6 trillion), and the World Bank believes over $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year. Of course, given the secretive nature of corrupt exchanges, we cannot know the true value of how much is actually lost, but there can be little doubt that corruption represents a major cost to the public. Given such staggering numbers, it is understandable that both academics and policymakers would want to develop measures of corruption. These measures aim to show how much corruption exists in the world and where it occurs, and ultimately provide guidance about how to stop it. Unfortunately, currently available measures of corruption are beset by conceptual, methodological, or political problems (or a combination of all three) that constrain their utility as a guide to developing effective anti-corruption policies.
The recent climate deal between the US and China is being hailed as ground-breaking; the pivotal moment that the entire climate community has been waiting on baited breath for. Unfortunately, if you look outside of the American media circus it becomes quite difficult to find the enthusiasm that seems to be building behind Obama’s most recent pledge to climate leadership. Considering the advent of less carbon-dense American gas supplies, it is hard to understand how America and China’s agreement could be anything other than a weak indicator of future climate regimes. Although the US and China’s pledge is important in emphasizing the need to implement carbon-targets, stronger targets are needed to make an impact in global carbon emissions reductions.
As the party associated with maintaining the status quo, Britain’s Conservatives have historically been more comfortable using popular culture to advance their ends than their supposedly ‘improving’ rivals on the left.
When mass democracy arrived in the interwar period Conservatives therefore saw the potential in using fiction to promote their ideas. The party produced stories, one of which ‘A New Jack the Giant-Killer’, featured an evil gnome called ‘Discontent’ preaching Socialism. At the same time, Conservative cinema vans toured the country showing short films, which dramatised its propaganda. Some Conservatives even considered buying a cinema chain and producing movies with sympathetic themes.
Last week a dissident republican plot to target judges and police officers was exposed by MI5. The detective sergeant told the court that the men involved were indeed planning to commit acts of terrorism in the near future. Although violence never fully ended after the 1998 peace agreement, the recent increase in both attacks on police officers and paramilitary punishments has become an increasing worry for politicians, security forces and local communities in Northern Ireland. Nowadays the conflict is usually portrayed as a ‘done deal’ and a shining example of successful ethnic conflict resolution used by scholars and policymakers throughout the world.
Is Britain’s two-party system really about to crumble? This question was the title of an academic paper that was written back in 1982. Like many other observers at the time, the academic Ivor Crewe had been captivated by the sudden rise of a new challenger to the main parties: the Social Democratic Party. The SDP’s surge was truly astonishing; it won a string of parliamentary by-elections, attracted more than two dozen defecting MPs and was soon polling ahead of all the other parties. At one point the SDP was on more than 50 per cent.
At first glance the scale of the SDP’s insurgency makes the contemporary rise of Ukip seem much less impressive. Ukip has only two seats in the House of Commons, continues to average only 16 per cent in the opinion polls and you would be hard pushed to find a serious commentator who thinks that Nigel Farage’s party will attract more than 20 per cent of the vote at the 2015 general election. Ukip also remains prone to public relations disasters and is a polarising force. A new poll by YouGov this week indicated that around one in four voters would struggle to remain friends with a Ukip supporter. Continue reading