Beating the Brexit cyber-bullies

First published on Progressonline

Demos, in their recent work in association with Creative Commons looking at voter engagement across Europe, has some important recommendations for anyone worried about the health of our democracy. The report, debated under the hashtag #LikeShareVote, took a particular interest in social media and how it shapes and influences the debate.

The report found that ‘anti-EU populists dominated conversations on Twitter’, which only confirms what most will already know or assume. In addition it was found that ‘policies are discussed, but primarily through the lens of individual personalities.’ These two phenomena are worrying and sound remarkably like the situation in Scotland back in the run up to September.

If Britain gets itself into a referendum on EU membership, the Brexit cyberbullies might be to the next parliament, what the cybernats have been to this. (more…)

Avoiding a winners-take-all union

First published on Progressonline

This week we have seen the perfect storm for Tory backbenchers, aided and abetted by the rightwing press, as immigration and Europe have dominated the news, prompting more knee-jerk rhetoric from David Cameron.

The prime minister and home secretary Theresa May have both flirted with caps that are no doubt illegal or other restrictions on the freedom of movement that would damage jobs and growth across Europe as a whole. The idea, supported this week by nearly 80 Tory MPs to abolish freedom of movement for countries with a below average GDP, would lead to an overheating of the higher GDP European nations and a permanent two-speed Europe. (more…)