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Disengaged democracy

The Blair era began on a wave of optimism but is ending in a crisis of disengagement. Most accounts of this problem, including the Power inquiry, are unsatisfactory. Consider instead the "1 per cent solution"

By Paul Skidmore   December 2006

When the low turnout at the 2001 general election first brought the issue of political disengagement into focus, it was often said that this was an aberration: a product either of voters’ basic contentment with New Labour, or more likely of the Conservatives’ unelectability. Neither condition is now present, yet only the most optimistic foresee a return to politics as it once was.

The final report of the Power inquiry, published in March, carefully chronicled the depth of this disengagement. The report takes aim at a political system “significantly out of step with the values, expectations and interests of the…

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