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

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Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

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Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

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Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
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Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor