More Keith Sutherland on openDemocracy

Where’s the Democracy?

The annual British Academy lecture was delivered this week by M.H. Hansen, a leading authority on Athenian democracy and the ancient Greek polis. Professor Hansen’s thesis was that Montesquieu’s doctrine of the separation of powers – the model used by the founders of the American constitution – is well past its sell-by date. This is because a) the leaders of modern ‘democracies’ have assumed powers that are normally associated with seventeenth-century absolute monarchs and b) because the prerogative of modern legislatures is regularly usurped by the judiciary.

Positive action or a portrait in miniature?

Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, claimed on Sunday that it is time for “positive action” to end the predominance of “white, middle-class lawyers” in parliament. Speaking ahead of an online conference, Human Rights in the Post-Election UK, he called on the three main party leaders to ensure that the next generation of MPs more accurately reflects the social makeup of the population.