John Rentoul: How democracy works

Part 1 of an occasional series. First, everyone, apart from elected representatives, agrees that all elected representatives are lying, thieving and cheating scumbags.

Royal PR guru takes Downing Street role

The public relations guru who helped rescue the Royal Family's reputation after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales is to become Gordon Brown's new director of communications, Downing Street said today.

Leading article: The dam has burst – and the waters of reform must flow

MPs' expenses and the drive for constitutional change are related

Campaign for Democracy: Have your say

In the wake of the expenses scandal, we are living in potentially revolutionary times. After decades of growing disenchantment with our political system, many voters are restless and seeking genuine change to the way in which this nation is governed.

Robert Webb: We need an independent inquiry

The 7 July bombings were the largest peacetime attack in mainland Britain and we are still feeling the effects. The verdicts make dealing with Laura's death more difficult from the point of view of wanting answers, wanting to know why people did what they did, and wanting to see some form of justice being done. It makes it hard. But we have to respect that we have due process, and don't assume someone is guilty.

Leading article: Our democracy must be transparent

Westminister was the stage for a political farce yesterday. In the morning, the Prime Minister's spokesman announced that a Commons vote on exempting MPs expenses from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act would go ahead as planned. But by noon, the line from Downing Street had changed and it said there would be further consultation on the matter. Shortly afterwards, Gordon Brown sought to pin the blame for the reversal on the Opposition, although quite why the Prime Minister needs the approval of the Tories to hold a Commons vote went unexplained.

Hasina looks set for power

An alliance led by Bangladesh's former prime minister Sheikh Hasina has taken an early lead in unofficial results from yesterday's parliamentary polls, election officials said.

European feudalism finally ends as Sark heads for democracy

Jerome Taylor reports on an acrimonious election marred by the Barclay brothers' threat to withdraw investment from island

<a href="http://angela-harris.livejournal.com/620.html">Angela Harris: Lord Russell-Johnston's defence of democracy</a>

I want to pay a special tribute to the late Lord Russell-Johnston, a proud defender of the Liberal way and a man who in many ways brought Scotland to Europe. For anyone to hold a seat in Parliament for 33 years is a remarkable achievement, but Lord Russell-Johnston was more importantly a man of political passion and ethics.

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/keen_on_new_media-1/">Andrew Keen: Interactivism</a>

Thanks to the Guardian's digital supremo Emily Bell, direct electronic democracy now has a name. It's called interactivism.

World Focus: Mbeki foresaw a split &ndash; but not this sort of split

In the early 1990s, before he was president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki predicted the ruling African National Congress would split when the country's politics had normalised.

The Online lobby: The blog sites transforming our democracy

Political blog sites are growing like topsy. But which site is the most influential? Nigel Morris chooses his 10 favourites.

Democracy: Crisis and Renewal, By Paul Ginsborg

Democracy is in crisis, suggests Paul Ginsborg. Although, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been an increase in the number of countries belonging to the United Nations which can be "broadly defined as democratic" (120 out of 192 by 2000), he argues that the quality of democracy has sharply declined and the nature of politics has changed. This book, which uses the work of Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill as a backdrop, feels more in tune with the kind of active, engaged political process people are increasingly being deprived of.

Bhutan gets first taste of democracy

By Simon Denyer in Thimpu

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Career Services

Day In a Page

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?