How should politicians reconnect with voters?

A bus travels along Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

Excited about the election? Travelling around Britain and talking to people about politics, the sentiment which emerges as strongly as any is that they feel disconnected from power. Their voice isn't heard. Elections don't change much. Democracy doesn't work for them.

More than anything else, I think it was that which drove the Brexit vote, a feeling among millions that decisions that changed their lives and their communities were being made in a faceless office in Whitehall or, worse, a mirrored-glass building in Brussels.

Resentment at the EU is often matched by resentment of London. In one of the most centralised countries in the Western world, "taking back control" is really a desire to have far greater say over the destiny of your town or your job or your family.

And so an existential challenge for the government of the United Kingdom is to convince the citizenry that power will be returned to them.

It is an ambition that the prime minister has spoken about on several occasions and large chunks of her party's manifesto are devoted to it.

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Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil

  • 20 May 2017
  • From the section UK
Ian Brady Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Brady's notoriety and significance goes beyond the criminal to the political and the cultural

Ian Brady's mug shot has become visual shorthand for psychopathic evil. With his accomplice Myra Hindley, he occupies an especially ignominious place in our national folklore.

Margaret Thatcher described their crimes as "the most hideous and evil in modern times". A BBC News article in 2002 suggested the so-called "Moors Murderers" had set "the benchmark by which other acts of evil are measured".

Read full article Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil

Why some fear a shortage of immigrants

  • 23 February 2017
  • From the section UK
Flower pickers Image copyright Getty Images

Britain's anxiety about immigration has long been that there is far too much of it. Concerns about the record number of foreign arrivals were a key factor in the vote for Brexit, and the national debate in Parliament and the press has tended to focus on who has got the best policies to reduce it as quickly as possible.

So one would think statistics suggesting a fall in net migration and a big drop on EU workers coming from the eight so-called accession countries (A8) like Poland would be a cause for rejoicing. Well, not entirely.

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Housing White Paper: Radical or feeble?

  • 7 February 2017
  • From the section UK
New housing Image copyright PA

Over the last three decades, governments of various stripes have promised radical change to solve England's housing crisis and today's White Paper is no exception.

The problem is that so many of the initiatives and ideas sold to the country as ground-breaking prove to be business as usual.

Read full article Housing White Paper: Radical or feeble?

James Ibori: Nigerian ex-governor challenges UK conviction

  • 1 February 2017
  • From the section UK
James Ibori Image copyright Reuters
Image caption James Ibori was released from a UK prison in December after serving four years of a 13-year sentence

A Nigerian politician is appealing against his British conviction for corruption, claiming the Metropolitan Police investigation was itself mired in corruption.

James Ibori was released in December after four years in a British prison, but prosecutors have since admitted they have documents suggesting police officers involved in the case took bribes.

Read full article James Ibori: Nigerian ex-governor challenges UK conviction

Drenched Thailand still waiting for its green revolution

  • 10 January 2017
  • From the section Asia
Tourists use rubber rings to cross a flooded road on Koh Samui, Thailand, 5 January 2017 Image copyright AP
Image caption Tourists use inflatable rings to cross a road on the Thai island of Koh Samui

Mr Supit bows low, palms together, fingers pointing to the wrathful heavens above.

The north-east monsoon should have left the Thai island of Koh Samui more than a month ago, but the start of 2017 there has been greeted by a week of unremitting tropical storms.

Read full article Drenched Thailand still waiting for its green revolution

Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2016

  • 26 December 2016
  • From the section Magazine
Mark Easton game image

It is time once again for that most traditional of festive distractions, my Boxing Day Family Puzzler. Now in its ninth glorious year, this is the quiz where no-one is expected to know any of the answers.

The questions relate to events in the past 12 months and all the solutions are numbers. Contestants must simply use wisdom and judgement to get as close to the right figure as they can.

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What did the Brexit vote reveal about the UK?

A union flag flies in front of the Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

The vote for Brexit was a thunderous rumble of national indignation, an outpouring of frustrated fury that shook the foundations of the British state. We misinterpret its meaning at our peril.

"Brexit means Brexit" does not cut it.

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New evidence supports cover-up claims in Ibori case

  • 16 September 2016
  • From the section UK
New Scotland Yard revolving sign Image copyright Getty Images

Claims that Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) covered up evidence of police corruption in a high-profile money-laundering case have been given new weight after the discovery of a substantial number of documents suggesting an officer did take bribes.

The previously undisclosed material came to light after the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, demanded a review into the conviction of Nigerian politician James Ibori.

Read full article New evidence supports cover-up claims in Ibori case

Ibori lawyer awarded £20,000 by Crown Prosecution Service

  • 22 July 2016
  • From the section UK
Bhadresh Gohil Image copyright Metropolitan Police

A convicted money launderer, linked to the high-profile prosecution of Nigerian politician James Ibori, has received £20,000 from the Crown Prosecution Service after claims he was wrongly deprived of his liberty.

The extraordinary payment is just the latest twist in a legal case that has led to investigations into allegations of police corruption and a cover-up of key evidence.

Read full article Ibori lawyer awarded £20,000 by Crown Prosecution Service