Tag Archives: democracy

Democracy in corporate boardrooms

In this blog I have written mostly about politics and how innovation could reinvigorate our democracies. I have neglected to apply this principle to the corporate and financial sector. This is actually odd because I spent most of my career in the financial sector not as a “politics student”, or advisor to organisations involved in democratic innovation (what I now do).

An interesting article by Stuart Kirk of the Financial Times (May 25, 2024, “It’s time to let shareholders choose the CEO”), raises the question of democracy within corporations. He challenges the current approach “where elected board members are responsible” for CEO selection. Investors, who own the company, “are never given a list of candidates and asked to vote”. Many of these shareholders own their stakes via mutual funds or pension funds and do not even have the right to vote–that right is executed by the fund manager on their behalf.

Kirk argues that opening up the process will broaden the list of prospects. He also contends this will put downward pressure on CEO compensation which has ballooned in the past decade. Against this contention the recent award of circa $50 billion in compensation to Elon Musk at Tesla is worth pondering. Thousands of retail shareholders were the most supportive of Musk’s package and it was the institutions who were most opposed. Thus, individual shareholders may act in ways that are surprising, and/or arguably counter to their own interests, but at least such decisions will have far greater democratic legitimacy. In the same vein, there is no guarantee that engaging citizens in the political process will achieve better decisions—but they would also have greater democratic legitimacy.

What makes me most uncomfortable about the process of CEO selection in public companies is what I would describe as the “conspiracy of the interested”. Boards appoint new board members—often in their own likeness.  The board-appointed CEO obviously has an interest in placing on the board those most likely to be supportive–and CEOs normally have considerable influence on selection. Boards remuneration committees decide how much the CEO should earn.  It is easy to see how this creates a system where compensation levels remain high, especially as board directors are often CEOs of other companies. Few board members have a genuine interest in depressing executive wages, contributing to the stratospheric rise in CEO relative pay. This all acts to the detriment of shareholder interests.

Kirk makes an excellent point with regard to the investment banking industry where “the internal candidate whose business or region is currently making the most money” gets the nod to become CEO”. As someone who used to follow the investment banking industry, I was amazed at how difficult it seemed to be for investment bank boards to distinguish between luck and competence in choosing a CEO, and how rarely they search outside the company.

The most amazing case of this I saw at close quarters at Lehman Brothers, a firm I knew well (Disclosure: as an analyst and subsequently as Lehman’s Head of Equities in Europe in the 1990s). Richard Fuld emerged from the fixed income side of the business, which had enjoyed record years during the bull market–unsurprisingly he was selected to run Lehman Brothers, systematically displacing any rivals. In my opinion, despite the success in fixed income, he was not a good choice as an investment bank CEO. Fuld, led the firm into a spectacular bankruptcy in 2008, nearly bringing down the global financial system with it. He is reported to have been paid $500 million during his career at Lehman Brothers, according to James Sterngold of CBS News (April 29, 2010, “How much did Lehman CEO make?”), while the taxpayer bill to rescue Wall Street was $700 billion. There is no guarantee Lehman investors would have behaved differently, but the extraordinary preference for internal candidates, which Kirk criticises, is an issue with the current system.

Furthermore, one can argue that Musk created an enormously valuable company and deserves rich rewards. But Lehman Brothers was founded in 1850–is it really fair that at firms with reputations (and franchise value) have been established over decades or centuries, that today’s CEOs gobble up so much of the value created. Perhaps incompetents get fired when their luck runs out but often with generous “golden parachutes”. Heads I win, tails I win–this a huge problem.

It is hard to imagine how one might set about fixing this problem, or even to feel confident that more democratic decision-making would improve outcomes. But as in the political sphere, it seems hard to argue that the current situation is working so well that it could not benefit from experimentation. One answer could be for the fund managers to enable shareholders to vote their shares, so that the institution’s vote reflects the views of beneficial owners. From a technical standpoint this seems eminently doable, but probably few shareholders would bother to vote. But it would be a start and on important issues one suspects the turnout could be much higher. In any event, more democracy seems worth a try—in the boardroom and in politics.

Democratic Innovation and Impact Investment are Similar–Why This Matters

My master’s degree (UCL, 2023) was in Democracy and Comparative Politics, and my dissertation focused on democratic innovation.  In writing it, I noticed an explosion in academic literature regarding innovations in democracy, in particular since 2010[1]. For a relative newcomer to the field, the passion and volume of academic work offered hope that the continuous global decline in support for democracy[2] might be halted or even reversed.  At its core, simplifying considerably, were the concepts of citizen engagement and deliberation. The first would reinvigorate democracy and bring greater legitimacy to political decision-making. The second involved initially providing participants with information and objective expertise, who could then openly discuss and debate issues in the facilitated pursuit of a consensus, which would formulate policies that possessed greater legitimacy AND were objectively better than those which result from current legislative processes.

Immersing myself in this hopeful world was exhilarating.  Not only was there a growing abundance of academic literature, but thousands of real-life cases were taking place all over the world[3] and important political leaders seemed committed to the ideals of innovation in our democracies[4].  My excitement waned however as I returned to the real world (from the “groves of academe”).  Hardly anyone I knew was aware of any of these democratic innovations and in our day-to-day lives whatever innovations had been implemented seemed to have had very little impact.

This reminded me of my experience in the impact investment world which began roughly 25 years ago. Pioneers (less so academics in that case) were publishing reports about this emerging world of social enterprise and investment (it was called that before Americans insisted on the shift in nomenclature to “impact investing” in 2007) and the arguments in support.  Also, a host of new mission-oriented companies (think Body Shop or Ben and Jerry’s) emerged which added “doing good” to doing well.  I can remember vividly this sense of frustration that an obviously good idea which was destined to improve the way in which our financial markets and commercial enterprises operated was pretty much ignored. Again, the average “man in the street” had absolutely no awareness of the shift and in terms of genuine impact, it was microscopic.  Despite the noble efforts of these committed pioneers, and the seemingly obvious benefits that such a shift would engender, the commercial and investment world were not changing.

What I do recall vividly is the frustration of these pioneers as they presented compelling, passionate and extremely well-intentioned arguments in favour of incorporating impact into the world of investing, to no avail.  They were met with comments like, “lovely idea, we will get back to you”.  Investing institutions feared that bringing impact into the equation would diminish returns.  Large corporations worried that taking non-financial factors into account would threaten profitability. 

I was reminded of this when reading the equivalently passionate academic pieces extolling the virtues of citizen engagement and deliberative democracy, and the mounting frustration at how little was actually changing in the political realm.  What I saw then and now was that wagging your finger at the people who benefit from the status quo and telling them what they “should” do and demanding change because “it’s obviously the right thing to do” very rarely result in any notable progress.  At best, you will get “lovely idea, we will get back to you”.

Since that time the impact investment world has grown by leaps and bounds.  From non-existence in the early 2000s, the sector has mushroomed to $1.164 trillion in 2022[5] according to the Global Impact Investment Network’s latest published report.  This sum is growing at 10-20% per annum, much faster than the overall investment sector.  In the UK, Better Society (was “Big Society” until recently) Capital estimates that the value of UK social investments in 2022 was worth £9.4 billion, roughly 11 times (!) the level in 2011.  Large companies who sneered at the idea of impact in the early part of this century has restructured to take impact into account, which has been well-received by customers and employees alike—some (8,653 at last count) have even become “B Corporations”[6].

I contend that critical to this was a shift in the language of the pioneers, as they attempted to persuade large institutions and corporations.  Instead of finger-wagging or preaching, the emphasis was placed on how it was in the selfish interest of these large organisations to undertake the shift. For example, large investment firms became convinced that impact assets under management would grow rapidly (this has clearly proven to be the case), and that in addition the fees for managing these assets would be higher, the money would be “stickier” (less likely to leave the institution once it arrived then mainstream investments) and that investment returns would not suffer.  Corporations saw the benefit in customer and staff engagement. 

I believe a similar shift is needed in the area of democratic innovation.  My dissertation therefore focused on trying to identify the factors that might convince politicians and civil servants to undertake exercises in democratic innovation because it was in their interest to do so.  As part of my work, I surveyed dozens of democracy technology companies across Western Europe and asked what they perceived to be the factors that do entice politicians to undertake democratic innovation. To be fair, these companies noted that some politicians were willing to do things simply because it was “the right thing to do”.  But this was a small minority.  The bulk of the politicians and civil servants were more effectively persuaded when the arguments focused upon factors of tangible interest. I grouped these factors into “7 Cs”—for example, cost savings or compliance (to national or international requirements).   

The dissertation was obviously written for academic purposes, so is tediously dull, but if readers of this blog wish to have a copy please just e-mail me at rod@schwartzuk.com and I would be happy to send it.  I do so not to bore more readers with my academic prose, but in order to try to persuade those who care about the adoption of democratic innovations, focused on citizen engagement and deliberation, to concentrate on factors which are in the selfish interests of politicians and the civil servants who serve them. This may feel like a compromise to purists, but I would argue that getting politicians to do things which improve the functioning of our democracies is more important than the elegance of academic logic deployed in the course of this persuasion.

 Rodney Schwartz, London, 11 May 2024

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021.  This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades.  For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here.  I welcome any comments.


[1] Elstub, S. & Escobar, O. (2019) “Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance”, Elstub S. & Escobar, O. (eds.). Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.

[2] V-Dem (2023) “Democracy Report 2023: Defiance in the face of autocratization”, Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg, V-Dem Institute.

[3] Participedia identified 2,228 cases as of 4 May 2024 (https://participedia.net/)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/oct/08/parisians-have-say-city-first-20m-participatory-budget  downloaded 4/5/24 at 16:14

[5] https://thegiin.org/assets/2022-Market%20Sizing%20Report-Final.pdf   downloaded 4/5/24 at 16:47

[6] https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/  downloaded 11/05/24 at 16:02

The Joy (?) Of Finishing a Dissertation

“You must be thrilled to get that off your plate!”, was the refrain I heard from nearly everyone I spoke with after completing and submitting the dissertation for my masters degree at UCL.  Well, errr, ummmm, actually the truth is that I wasn’t.  Having dedicated most of the past 24 months to my learning in the area of democracy and innovation, I was actually sad that this part of my journey from business was actually at its end. In fact, as my finger hovered above the ”send” button, it was nothing like joy or relief which I felt.

This was not the case the last time I handed in academic work, over four decades ago, at the Simon Business School of the University of Rochester.  Back then I was as thrilled as any normal student to be finished with education and to start “real life”.  Something is really different in approaching a degree as a mature student–especially if, like me, the degree was not designed primarily to fulfil some new career aspiration.  This was perhaps a component of the exercise, but the prime motivation was the learning in and of itself.

For anyone considering going back to school and studying a subject at any level of depth, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Learning new things is nearly always interesting, but for myself, the process of achieving some level of “mastery” of any new subject is its own reward (the masters degree is therefore well-named). I had been interested in democratic innovation (the subject of my dissertation) for some time and had even begun reading on this subject before the formal course began.  Two-thirds of the way through that work, my spirits lifted as I began to make connections, become familiar with certain authors and their work, and see the big picture of a particular subject in some context and within a particular framework. For me this fostered a sense of pure joy.

Beyond joy, I derived a real sense of purpose from this academic exercise.  At my age (I am now 65) this becomes increasingly important.  As I look around me at friends my age or consider those of my parents when they were in their twilight years, there seemed a discernible difference in mental and physical health between those individuals who had and did not have a sense of purpose and positive engagement with the world.  Frankly speaking, the prospect of a quiet retirement fills me with anxiety and some measure of dread.  My father worked until his late 80s, and not only did this keep him sharp, but I suspect it kept him alive (he is now 95).  In a more mundane sense, studying kept me engaged during some of the Covid lockdowns—for which I am extremely grateful.

What I have not secured as a result of my learning is a clear sense of what I will do with it or how I will devote my talents professionally in the years to come—many have asked, which I take as a compliment and that they believe there is something useful I might be able to do.  My studies have however resolved for me my “direction of travel”.  I know now that I would like to spend most of my remaining useful years in the pursuit of learning about democratic innovation and how it can be deployed to improve the functioning of our faltering democracies.  I was not wholly confident that my degree course would lead to this degree of certainty, but I am immensely glad that it has.  What else I will do around democratic innovation (I am currently a senior adviser to the Innovation in Politics Institute in Vienna) remains to be seen, of course. It depends on whether or not I can be of any use to practitioners in the sector and if I can persuade them of that.  Let’s see.  But I am hopeful that the combination of lifetime experience with private firms and charities at all stages of development combined with the beginnings of some knowledge regarding the subject of democratic innovation will be of use.  And ultimately I believe we all want to be of use, somehow, in some way, to someone.  This is now my quest.

My masters degree, and in particular my dissertation, fully absorbed my capacity to do any other learning or writing.  I had been playing at learning French again, which had been going extremely badly, and my efforts to sustain this blog fell by the wayside. I am obviously hopeful that this piece I have just penned (the first in six months) will be the first of many and of course, I hope that they are of some use to those of you who are struggling with some of the same questions. 

As I have mentioned before this blog is designed for those with an interest in politics as well as those with an interest in learning after a career.  I genuinely hope that my reflections, which I have tried to capture as honestly as possible, will be of some value to some of you.

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—20 September 2023

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021.  This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades.  For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here.  I welcome any comments.

Issue Entrepreneurship and the ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Income Redistribution

I was listening to BBC Radio 4 News in March (22/3/23) and was particularly interested in an interview of Sushil Wadhwani, who runs his own asset management firm, and for three years was a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.  His CV is that of a mainstream fund manager.  In the interview he mentioned his surprise that corporate profit margins had remained so high despite the cost of living crisis.  Serendipitously the Financial Times published a chart on its front page that day on corporate profit margins in the United States which I have copied below. What is very clear is that in these hard times not everyone is suffering.

It seems to me, and to many of those I speak with, absolutely astonishing that this disparity is allowed to continue. With inflation pushing so many households into poverty, it feels bizarre that there has been no major party clamouring for an adjustment which eases the burden on those who are struggling and increases the demands on those who appeared to be doing well through increased taxation. 

I often wonder why few of the opposition parties appear willing to tackle this head on. There is obviously a strong moral case for shifting the burden away from those who have been forced into food banks and making difficult “eating versus heating” decisions over the past six months, and onto those “with the broadest shoulders”. Furthermore, there is also a strong economic case. In a country like the UK, which is suffering severely from anaemic economic growth, it is obvious that tilting the tax system in a way which put more disposable income in the hands of the bottom third of earners, at the expense of the top third of earners would increase economic growth. This stems from the fact that the marginal propensity to consume for those at the bottom must be nearly 100% (they will spend all marginal income on essentials and perhaps repaying debt) whereas extra income for the wealthiest in our society is not spent on consumption but rather in pouring more capital into financial assets.

The only reason a cynic like me can think of is that opposition parties, like the government, receive their campaign funding from the wealthy who are typically antagonistic towards the redistribution of income.  Also, talk of redistributing income has the feel of a “third rail” issue for politicians—touch it and you go up in smoke.  I am no longer certain this is the case.

I have been studying “orphan issues” like this for my master’s degree at UCL. These are just sitting there waiting for “issue entrepreneurs” to pick them up and run with them, as they seek the support of the electorate.  This concept of “issue entrepreneurship” seems to have been developed by theorists Sara Hobolt and Catherine de Vries in a 2015 article (“Issue Entrepreneurship and Multiparty Competition”).  In it they introduced the concept but also identify the circumstances under which political parties may or may not grab hold of such issues.  There are two primary points they make, the first is that “political parties are more likely to become issue entrepreneurs when they are losers on the dominant dimension of contestation”, and that these “parties will choose which issue to promote on the basis of their internal cohesion and proximity to the mean voter on that same issue”.  It remains to be seen if these propositions are correct and if the current opposition parties are willing to take the risk.

In prior research, written in 2007 by Cees Van der Eijk and Mark Franklin, (“Potential for Contestation on European Matters at National Elections in Europe”) the authors identified the issue of EU integration as a potential “sleeping giant”, ready to dramatically shift political behaviour in Europe.  This issue had lain dormant for some time but was seized upon by Eurosceptic and far-right parties, with notable success.

I wonder if the UK Labour party has an entrepreneurial bone in their political body………….   

(PS—this post was written weeks ago, but I forgot to hit “send”.)

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—23 April 2023

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments

“Peak-End Rule”: Voter Perceptions are Skewed by Recency

I try very hard not to bore readers with too many of the dozens of articles that I, as a master’s student, should read each week. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to share some insights from a 2014 article by Andrew Healy and Gabriel Lenz (“Substituting the End for the Whole: Why Voters Respond Primarily to the Election- Year Economy”) because it is highly relevant, especially as we approach key election in 2024 in the UK and USA.  In this impressive analysis, informed in part by the work of Nobel Prize winning economist/psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the authors demonstrate convincingly that US voters consistently overweight economic performance in the fourth year of a presidential term when deciding on how to vote for an incumbent President.

What is especially interesting is that when voters are asked how they wish to assess a President they consistently claim that they would like to do so based upon the cumulative results of the full four year Presidential term. However, when it comes to voting, they historically and significantly overweight economic performance of the fourth year.  In part, this reflects faulty memories and the fact that going back and assessing the full term’s results requires intellectual work, which many voters seem unwilling to do. Instead, voters appear to unintentionally deploy a heuristic; how the economy feels as they are voting at the end of the term. The unfortunate result of this is that Presidents who may be competent economic managers over their full terms are less favoured than are clever politicians who figure out how to successfully manipulate the economy to suit the electoral calendar. This can mean that longer term national economic prospects are damaged in pursuit of a false economic uplift to suit an incumbent president (or Prime Minister, for that matter).

A good example is how voters perceived Presidents Carter and Clinton.  US GDP growth was stronger over Carter’s full term, but weak in year 4, and he was booted out of office (although there were other factors).  Cumulative GDP growth under Clinton was weaker, but his strong performance in the fourth year helped to give him a second term, the research suggests.

Apparently such a phenomena is observable in many other aspects of life. The article refers to examples of experiments undertaken in the area of gambling, vacations, TV advertisements, and colonoscopies, among other areas.  The authors specifically cited an example where individuals are asked to stick their hands in 14 degrees centigrade water for 15 seconds, and then do the same for 90 seconds.  Without letting them know they gradually raised the temperature in the final 15 seconds from 14 to 15 degrees. When they were asked afterwards which ordeal they would like to repeat, a disproportionate number wished to have the second experiment, even though they will have to endured 30 seconds of 14 degree water as opposed to 15 in the first example, and three times as much cold water overall. However, the milder temperature right at the end biases their decision-making process. Theorists like Kahneman and others call this the “Peak-End Rule”, where the feeling at the end of an experience dominates the individual’s overall impression.

This is all great stuff and highly amusing but is really a serious issue for our democracy. The results are so significant that it means that there is an extraordinary incentive for politicians to jeopardise the long term interests of the country in order to get the right economic result as an election approaches. I suspect this will be true for Joe Biden in 2024 and my hunch is that Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of  the United Kingdom, will have a hard time resisting the temptation to announce a raft of vote winning measures (my bet is for tax cuts) at the end of his term in 2024. Healy and Lenz suggest that the best way to address this is for governments to make sure that people are fully informed about the cumulative impact of their regimes and that this will ensure voters take the full term of their governments into account. This is an extraordinarily naive suggestion and I place the probability of this UK Government doing that at precisely 0%–same for the Democrats in the USA.

If the UK Labour opposition has any sense, and sometimes I doubt that they do, they will start to bang the drums now about the unaffordable electoral bribes which are surely coming down the pipe.  We have seen the first instalment of these in the budget just announced which lavished upon the top 1% of earners significant and generous pension benefits—this at a time when the bottom 80% are struggling to make ends meet.  I doubt the Tories will adhere to the “fiscal discipline” they normally shout about, and which is one of the justifications for paltry public sector wage growth.   

If oppositions do not point out this is an issue to voters, and do so early enough to prepare them for the bribery that will undoubtedly follow, they only have themselves to blame.  But it is not only they who lose, but all of us who suffer from the damaging long term consequences of the Peak-End Rule and the perverse incentives it creates for politicians.

London, UK—17 March 2023

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments

“Hierarchism” at University and in Politics–and How we Really Learn

When I started my master’s degree in Democracy and Comparative Politics at UCL I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Would I be leaning about Plato and Aristotle, or Hobbes and Marx?  In fact, it’s Weber and Rawls where our studies seem to begin.  However, I find that many of my political lessons do not come from books written by any of the great theorists, but rather in observing how universities operate and how that mirrors government treatment of citizens.  Let me explain.

As I sit here today on 28 February, I am awaiting the results of an exam handed in on 11 January. I have had a steady stream of apologetic emails assuring me that the grades are to be available imminently–hmmmmm.  I recollect this also occurred with the mid-terms for the same class.  In fact, we did not receive the results until after the end of term!  Thus, one had no chance to learn from the exam, or to gain an understanding of concepts one failed to absorb in preparation for the mid-term exam.

It is also infuriating that the final exam was handed out in the middle of the Christmas break on 3 January (classes resumed on the 9th), and we were expected to hand in our exam papers by 14:00 on the 11th. Hopes that exams be handed out at the end of term were thwarted as it would have meant that professors would be marking over their Christmas break, which was understandably unacceptable. However, the idea that students should be expected to do an exam during their Christmas break seemed perfectly reasonable.

Another example, in another class, were the repeated promises that an important lecture would be made available through the online portal by a specific time. Of course this did not appear much later. I fully understand that shit happens, and that university professors are massively overworked (and underpaid), but what I find galling is the hard-assed insistence on students meeting firm deadlines at the same time as the university persistently fails to meet nearly every deadline it establishes for itself.  We are told that if we hand in exams even just one minute late there will be penalties. 

It is not only professors that continually miss deadlines, but the university itself.  Lectures, course outlines and necessary material are often not available until after the first classes of term begin, which is patently ridiculous.  I suspect this attitude of strict deadlines for those further down in the hierarchical system, and disregard for them at the top permeates downwards—as they say, “a fish rots from the head”.  I could go on and provide more examples, but I am sure you get the picture.

I have been reflecting on the question of “where else have I seen this behaviour in the world we inhabit?” I wonder……………   As many will recall, the Conservative government under Boris Johnson was strict with regard to COVID restrictions. Citizens who had the audacity to sit on a park bench as they took their daily walk at the height of the restrictions were quickly moved along by police and those found to have had group gatherings were punished. It is a matter of public record that while we were adhering to these restrictions those who governed over us were flaunting them with abandon. I presume that they believed it was important that restrictions were put in place in order to keep us healthy and to prevent hospitals overflowing with patients, but clearly they did not seem to worry about this for themselves.  Were they not worried?  Did not care?  In any event, the rules were only applicable to us but not to them!  I have decided to call this behaviour “hierarchism”, whereby those in power strictly enforce rules and regulations on those over which they have power without feeling any obligation to abide by these rules themselves.

This feels an important political lesson, but one I suspect the university has taught unintentionally. It’s about people in power using this power to procure benefits for themselves or make their lives easier  without any regard to those over whom they have power, further down the hierarchy. The irony in both cases is that it is actually students and citizens who are theoretically in charge. As students we are the customers of universities and are paying them to provide us with a service.  They work for us—it rarely feels that way. As citizens, politicians are nominally meant to be public servants, acting in our interest under authority delegated to them. Yet this theoretical model does not seem to work in practise.  Even if it did operate in Athens many centuries ago it certainly fails in the modern era.

Students exert pretty much zero power over the universities, despite being the customer.  Frankly even the professors seem relatively powerless and are often forced to undertake inane tasks for wages that are far too low.  But this is the nature of hierarchism—each tier dumps on the tier below.

My time as a student is limited, and this is true for most of us.  However, we are (unless you are Shamima Begum) forever citizens of our countries.  Democracy cannot operate effectively in an environment where citizens feel—and arguably are—powerless.  Yes, we have elections, but……….. Until we seriously address this, a vibrant healthy democracy cannot exist.  Perhaps in future blog posts I can explore this issue and analyse those governments which are at least taking a few steps in that direction.  In the meantime, I will just keep on learning, grateful to the university for the many lessons it is teaching me 😊

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—28 February 2023

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments.

The Departures of Ardern and Sturgeon Reveal a Sad Political Truth

Within the space of a month the western world has lost two of its most powerful and respected political leaders following the resignations of Jacinda Ardern on 19 January and Nicola Sturgeon on 15 February.  As they are both women, still sadly a rarity at the top of government, commentators have been drawn to view these two resignations in a similar light and draw similar conclusions.  The common themes are “burnout”, the pressures on women, the toll on them both, and the immense personal sacrifices politicians must regularly make.

In in reading Ardern’s resignation letter, and in viewing the actual speech, one gets a clear sense of the exhaustion she seemed to feel.  She herself confessed that she “no longer had enough in the tank to do it (the role of PM) justice”.  Fair enough. 

However, this is not a fair reading of Sturgeon’s letter, neither as it is written or in its delivery.   Whilst Sturgeon does admit that she is “a human being, as well as a politician”, this hardly seems a revelation.  She also refers to her niece and nephew, who have grown from infants to 17 years of age during her tenure in high-level politics.  Nevertheless, this does not strike me as a story of exhaustion, pressure, or sacrifice.  Sturgeon notes that she absolutely possesses the “resilience to get through this latest period of pressure”, and that she has resolved “seemingly intractable issues”, on many previous occasions.  However, she makes a strong and convincing case that: 1) Politics has become personalised in Scotland, and judgements are too often about her rather than the underlying issues, 2) That this is undermining the causes she cares about and has dedicated her life to addressing—most importantly Scottish independence, 3) That the SNP, like all parties, needs to move on beyond a single individual, and, 4) That someone else might be better suited to reach across the divide and bring along those who are required to yield a solid majority in favour of independence,  Essentially, she has convinced everyone she is capable of convincing, and that another leader might be more effective in broadening support and reaching across the divide.

So frankly, I find it a bit irritating and patronising that this “ahh, the poor things were exhausted” theme has emerged. Women in politics are often subjected to the most simplistic stereotypes, and this seemed once again to be the case.  It is lazy journalism and not an accurate portrayal of Sturgeon and what she asserts is behind her decision.  I pray for a time when women politicians are judged according to similar standards to their male counterparts, rather than made to fit into simplistic tropes.  But this is not the main point of this post. 

Whilst it is true that both Ardern and Sturgeon lead nations (each of which has between 5.0 and 5.5 million), and that both are women, I believe there is noble common ground which is the most interesting thing about these characters and their 1Q23 decisions.  These two leaders see themselves as true public servants, who owe it to themselves and their respective countries, to give it their best—and if they cannot, to move on.  Although they possess very different styles and personalities, both seem to me to have a sense of responsibility, of duty, of respect for the parties they led and the offices they held, as well as the citizens who elected them.

The contrast with the two selfish megalomaniacs who led the US and UK until recently could not be greater—I am of course referring to Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.  Whatever one thought of their politics or their policies, it would be challenging in the extreme to see either of these two men as anything but self-serving.  The idea that either cared deeply about their citizens, their parties, their offices or their governmental responsibilities is laughable.  There was almost nothing or no one they would hesitate to throw under a bus in pursuit of their own self-aggrandizement.  I am not sure even they knew what goals or objectives they were pursuing, beyond the need to stay in power.  Putin, Netanyahu, Erdogan and others are more extreme examples of this type of politician—what will they not do to remain in office?   It is here that the contrast with Ardern and Sturgeon is so great—not in their gender, or their tenacity, or their resilience, but in their values, in their sense of decency and in their respect for their roles as public servants.

It is true that Sturgeon and Ardern are women—but not all female politicians possess these commendable character traits.   I confess, I do struggle to come up with male politicians who have resigned whilst at or near the top of their game, and before they were thrown out of office, either by their party or their electorate.  Perhaps Paddy Ashdown was an example.  He led the Liberal Democrats (the UK’s third largest party) to more than double their seats in the 1997 general election (from 20 to 46, in comparison with 11 after the last election in 2019) and then resigned of his own accord, eventually to become UN High Representative for Bosnia Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006.  However, Ashdown was never elected leader of the UK, and thus his stepping down from the LD leadership was a vastly different class of decision.  If there are men you can think of, I would be delighted to hear from you.

So I think a more careful reading of these two departures is about a more profound and depressing political truth.  The people prepared to put up with the bullshit, and survive and thrive as leaders, are far too often the LAST people we should want to have in office—and those we might most want to keep are those who might be most inclined to depart sooner than we may wish.  The nearly simultaneous departures of Sturgeon and Ardern bring this depressing fact into sharp relief.  How on earth can we fix this?

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—17 February 2023

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments.

Studying politics at a time of global turmoil, in the absence of any opportunity for debate

When people hear that I am studying democracy at the masters level (I am studying Democracy and Comparative Politics at UCL) I often hear things like, “Wow, what an exciting time to be studying Democracy!”, or “You are so lucky, there is so much to talk about!”.  I wish!

There is certainly no absence of big issues.  China is about to grant an unprecedented third term to President Xi Jinping—this is likely to have far reaching consequences for global politics.  What about Taiwan?  What about north Korea?  With about 2/3 of my classmates coming from China, you might think there a perfect opportunity for mutual learning.  Courtesy of Vladimir Putin war has come again to Europe—is he a dictator bent on recreating the Soviet Union or a responsible leader seeking to protect a beleaguered nation in the face of aggressive expansion by NATO?  Energy prices are soaring, bringing a cost of living crisis to many in the West—how will or should this be addressed?  How should the burden be shared? In the United States, ex-President Trump is being investigated for allegedly fomenting insurrection in an attempt to overturn an election result he saw as unfavourable. Is Democracy seriously under threat in America?  Can they not run an election which does not descend into chaos?  Here in Britain, we are about to appoint a new Prime Minister for the third time this year.  I could say that we are about to appoint our third Prime Minister, however, there is a reasonable likelihood that a thoroughly discredited politician (Boris Johnson), who abused his office and lied to the country, may be reappointed by the very same party that threw him out in June of this year (so we may have one repeating).  What does this mean for Democracy in the UK, and can this ludicrous system by which we change our leaders be changed?  I could go on and on.

Nevertheless, in the classes I am taking, there is almost no opportunity to speak with classmates or professors about these events, or the political concepts and theories with which events are concerned. Classes are about 50 minutes, normally held once a week, and more often than not even the core material is not covered.  We are encouraged to read material we rarely discuss and study concepts online we may not even touch on in class.

When I studied Political Science as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester in New York, USA, we had two 15-week terms each year and three hours per week of class time (45 hours of contact time per class/module). The opportunity to engage classmates and the professor on critical issues was considerable. If I felt there were still burning questions, I could wander along and visit a professor in their office (they were almost always there and their door was open—literally and metaphorically) and chat with them, at some leisure—they were delighted by the interest of students and saw them as junior partners in a process of academic enquiry.  Some would regularly invite students to their homes (in groups) to continue the discussion.

At UCL there are three 10-week terms in the same academic year (implying 8.3 hours per class/module), and curiously there are no classes in the third term.  In this term students are meant to be working on their dissertation.  The gap in contact time is immense and one’s ability to learn or explore issues in any level of depth is severely impaired.  In this case, if I am curious about an issue and wish to follow up I must book a meeting online, and I am only permitted a single 10 or 15 minute slot. This barely allows time for a greeting, much less a developed and nuanced conversation about issues of interest.

Furthermore, as a Masters student one might expect more interaction with colleagues, not less.  I am enjoying my learning, but essentially am doing it on my own. 

I certainly don’t blame the professors. They seem as frustrated as anybody by the administrative demands on their time and the inability to continue a promising discussion.  It is clear that they also find these short follow up meetings absurd and seem to despair, as I do, regarding the absence of debate, discussion, and inquiry which must be the point of learning.  The economic reality of underfunded universities and overburdened and pressurised teaching staff guarantees this outcome—but I find it extremely depressing.     

I have been hoping that societies existed where like-minded students could meet and explore issues of interest. However despite my searching, I have thus far come up empty handed.  With one year to go, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and have contacted a nearby pub which will enable us to meet there on a Monday or Tuesday night (when the pub often has a free room upstairs) and have a discussion about issues of interest. I will invite professors and my colleagues on my programme and other relevant programmes, and I am very curious to see how this goes.  I will try to do this twice this term and see how it goes.  The first one will be on November 15th—and if you as a reader are interested in attending please contact me via LinkedIn or by commenting on this post.

I do wonder if part of the issue is the problem lies in how my own personal goals for the programme differ from those of other students.  My objective is very much intrinsic. By that I mean that for me the reward I will receive from this Master’s degree, comes from the learning itself, and from the depth with which I can explore issues of interest.  This is not that surprising, as I am 65 years old, and I am less likely to set off on the beginning of an exciting career.  On the other hand, I get the impression that for many, the value is instrumental—for what the degree will do for them.  I spoke to a Chinese student this week who was attending UCL (a different Political Science programme from mine) and when I asked him why he came to UCL he said, “This is one of the top ten universities in the world and when I get a degree I have a better chance of getting a great job.”  Maybe his interest in learning for its own sake is rather less than mine.

Let’s see if anyone turns up in the pub on 15/11………

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—22 October 2022 

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments.

The System for Choosing Party Leaders is Ruining Britain

UK financial markets are currently in complete disarray.  The British Pound has fallen to an all-time low against the US Dollar and is tumbling against other currencies as well.  Yields on government gilts have risen sharply, which will raise borrowing costs for the UK Government, which is piling on debt to an unprecedented extent.  Mortgage holders and other borrowers will suffer a severe increase in costs as the Central Bank raises interest rates to protect the Pound and to try to reduce inflation.  This all adds a heavy financial burden to an already stressed economy, adding to the pain from the huge leap in energy prices with which households are struggling.  Make no mistake, these policies will cause suffering and hardship—people will get sick (forced to choose between heating and eating), find an NHS they are unable to access, and will die as a result.

This latest blow, as with so many others (like Brexit) has been self-inflicted.  The Conservative Party has been kicking own goals into their net with abandon for years and will surely face the wrath of the electorate by the end of 2024.  Starting with Theresa May, continuing with Boris Johnson and now accelerating under Liz Truss we are witnessing an ideological lurch to the right.  In some ways this is a pan-European trend, with the far-right recently entering the Governments in Sweden (for the first time ever) and in Italy (for the first time since Mussolini).  However, my sense is that the resultant policies will be moderated in both these countries by their coalition partners and the dynamics of coalition, however our First Past the Post (FPTP) system in the UK, which causes large majorities even on small pluralities, grants the Tories astonishing power with their 70+ seat majority.  But FPTP conveys power but does not necessarily result in an ideologically extreme programme—what brings this about?

Here we need to see the role of the leadership election system.  The system allows Tory MPs to whittle down the list of aspirants to two, and then grants the party membership the final say over who becomes party leader—and Prime Minister in this case.  However, Tory members tend to be rather more “Tory”, and ideologically committed to the cause, than Tory voters or the electorate in general.  In July, YouGov reported[1] that Britons overall preferred Sunak to Truss as Tory leader by 28% to 25%, and that among Conservative voters Truss led by 41% to 36%–which is in stark contrast to the 57% to 43% vote by Tory members in the recent leadership election.  The nature of the selection process has a built in bias towards the keenest of Tories—the bluest of the blue.

This is not solely a problem in the Conservative Party. In the 2015 contest to select the Labour Party leader to succeed Ed Miliband, the party opted for a similarly extreme ideolog in choosing Jeremy Corbyn. He won the contest by securing roughly 60% of the vote of party members, a far higher percentage than the 19% won by Andy Burnham, the 17% secured by Yvette Cooper, or the roughly 5% for Liz Kendall. Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper would have proven more popular with the British electorate, I suspect, but the system was biased in favour of the candidate who was the reddest of the red. It is hard to judge the extent of the impact of those who became members just in order to choose Corbyn, but the system already was tilted towards the more extreme candidate. I think if Corbyn had not been proven to be so disastrous in the 2019 general election, perhaps the centrist Keir Starmer would not have emerged as the party’s leader thereafter.

The extremist bias in both parties leader selection systems, combined with the large majorities generally conveyed to the winning party under the FPTP system, means that there is a high likelihood of a successive series of leftward and rightward lurches. This cannot be good for a smooth functioning of democracy, or the economy which politicians are entrusted to manage. 

Business people, who value stability and predictability also find decision-making in this environment particularly difficult.  This may lead to a reluctance to invest, which undermines productivity and thereby hampers overall economic growth.  The chaotic plans announced by Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, have further undermined this stability and are likely to reduce growth and productivity, precisely the opposite of what they have sought to accomplish.  But to be fair, they are merely implementing the strategy promised to Tory members during the long leadership selection campaign—members knew what they were getting.  Sunak offered a different vision, which was rejected by the membership, but I contend would have been far better for the country—or at least less immediately destructive.  The issue is this system.  It must be changed.

Interestingly both these party leadership selection systems have developed out of a desire to improve the democratic nature of these contests. For example, what preceded the “one man one vote” system adopted by the Labour Party before 2015 was a system which granted 1/3 of the votes to the parliamentary Labour Party, 1/3 of the votes to the labour unions and affiliated societies and 1/3 of the votes to the party members.  Philosophically this was an attempt to make the process more democratic, but the results raise what in my opinion are more serious problems—the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It will require a brave party or leader to readjust the system in a way that takes power away from party members, especially where the members choose the current leader.  However, such bravery is exactly what we need—not only as it concerns party leaders.

Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—28 September 2022

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments.


[1] https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2022/07/27/where-do-britons-stand-liz-truss-and-rishi-sunak downloaded 11:20 on 28/9/22

The Voiceless 60% and Keir Starmer’s most important task if he becomes PM

The Democratic Chasm

There is a sizeable progressive majority in the UK—which might seem surprising given this very Tory Government and the nature of the Cabinet.  However, according to recent polls of polls[1], the support for a combination of progressive parties is 63%–these figures appear below (Note: These figures are from poll results which preceded the collapse in Tory support since the “fiscal event” and subsequent market meltdown, which would have the progressive majority at over 70%):

                             Labour                43%

                             Lib Dem              10%

                             Greens                6%

                             SNP                      4%

                             Total–4 above   63%

Conservatives   31%

The results of the last general election[2] are displayed below:

Labour                32%

                             Lib Dem              12%

                             Greens                3%

                             SNP                      4%

                             Total—4 above 51%

Conservatives   44%

The results are not as solidly progressive, but the total still adds up to a majority at 51%.  We can quibble about whether or not the SNP is really a progressive party, but the implication is clear.  The majority, or at least a plurality of UK voters are progressive, but the political system returned a Conservative majority of 80ish seats; the Tories secured 56% of Parliamentary seats on 43% of the vote (on 67% turnout).  The quirks of a first past the post (FPTP) voting system are well known and much studied, but I have seen little comment on the grotesqueness of this imbalance at the present time. And with the Conservative Party implementing legislation which moves the country in an increasingly extreme direction, the democratic chasm between voters and rulers grows dangerously large.

Those of us with a progressive bent may choose to cheer at current voting intentions–especially since the fiscal event. However, anyone with an interest in the state of our democracy must be deeply concerned at the widening gap between the electorate and the elected. How one approaches these figures and their implications will be partly determined by political orientation but also one’s mood. Allow me to feel modestly optimistic—I am praying for a Tory defeat, which I also believe is almost certain.  Regardless, they have important consequences for the Labour Party and in particular Keir Starmer in the run up to the next election, which will take place by the end of 2024.

The key test for Starmer’s leadership

Should Starmer become the next Prime Minister, there will be a bulging in-tray—the cost of living crisis, the plummeting Pound, surging interest rates, massive debt levels, etc.  However, I believe that one key issue will determine the long term political direction of the nation—and it will also tell us a great deal about Starmer’s level of courage and whether or not he is a leader with principles.  That issue is voting systems—in particular, what I believe is a necessary shift to more proportional voting.  To become Prime Minister, Starmer may have to collaborate with the other progressive parties, given the FPTP system. Even if Labour are elected with a massive majority, Starmer must resist the temptation to ignore attendees at the recent Labour conference (who voted to support PR) and make PR one of the centrepieces of his tenure.


Starmer has already demonstrated a sensible willingness to work with the other progressive parties and this is already showing results.  The first sign that an important change was underway was in the Chesham and Amersham by-election on 17 June 2021.  the Liberal Democrats won that seat with a swing from the conservative party of 25%.  Later that year, by-elections in Batley and Spen, and Old Bexley and Sidcup saw Labour and the Tories returned, respectively.

But the big sign that there was an earthquake underway, and that Amersham and Chesham was not a fluke, was in North Shropshire.  It struck me as an early indicator of what can be achieved when progressive parties put their narrow interests aside and work together. A 23,000 seat majority was massively overturned, and for the first time in nearly 200 years North Shropshire did not return a Conservative MP (a Lib Dem MP was elected, and Labour fell from 2nd to 3rd place). By-election results can often be dramatic and not a reflection of likely outcome in a general election, but the implication of the results are clear—progressive parties must put aside parochial interests and concentrate on what is best for the country.  Thereafter there was no change in Southend West and Birmingham Erdington, but the success of tactical voting was once again evident in Wakefield, where a swing of 13% saw Labour defeat the Tories (importantly, the Lib Dem share fell from 4% to 2%), and in Tiverton and Honiton saw the Liberal Democrats overturn a Conservative majority of 24,239 with a swing of 30% to take that seat.  This demonstrates the potential for progressive parties to defeat the Conservative party in the next election—to be held by December 2024.

The blockage here has historically been the Labour Party. It has held to the idea that it must run a candidate in nearly every seat, avoid pre-electoral deals, and shun cooperation. Things could have been vastly different if Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the aftermath of the 1997 general election, followed the recommendations of the Commission established under the chairmanship of Roy Jenkins and supported a form of proportional representation (the Jenkins Commission recommended the “Alternative Vote Top-Up System”). Blair and then Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown spoke at length about this before the election and many observers were surprised when Jenkins, a Lib Dem, was made Chair of the Commission.  The Labour Manifesto in 1997 also stated that, “We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will be appointed early to recommend a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system.”  Who remembers that campaign promise?

Unfortunately, the Blair-led Labour Party in 1997 was just too successful.  It won 418 seats out of 659 available in that election—this was 63% of seats on 43% of the vote, making the 2019 pro-Tory allocation look mean by comparison.  It would appear their belief in a fair electoral system extended only to the extent they might need Lib Dem support to govern.  When this proved unnecessary, their principles and manifesto commitment were summarily jettisoned, and they decided to enjoy an unfair system which now worked solidly in their favour.  Starmer and his Cabinet must avoid this temptation, because today and for the last twelve years, we have been living with the dire consequences of that missed opportunity!  The Labour leader has an hoistorical opportunity to fix this tragic historical mistake. How should he go about doing it?

The tactics for a non-deal deal

Negotiating a deal between the four progressive parties will be well-nigh impossible. Although staunch support may exist for such a move in the Liberal Democrat party, the Greens will be less enthusiastic, and it would be an unnecessary distraction at this moment for the Labour Party. The SNP might be supportive, but one can well imagine what the price for such support will be and how Tory shrieks of “destroying the union” will promptly follow.  But the key problem will be the Labour Party and the fact that there is both a principled objection and a practical one.  Many potential Labour MPs will be robbed of their opportunity to win seats—and Labour supporters robbed of their chances to vote consistently with their interests (the principled reason).  And the UK public hates such formal deals (witness the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition)! And it would pointlessly give the Tories ammunition.  This is the practical objection.

However, Starmer does not appear to be as popular as Blair was, although that is beginning to change, and the Labour Party of 2022 is not the Labour Party of 1997. Also, it is worth remembering that in May 2021 they saw the previously safe seat of Hartlepool switch to the Tories, with the Conservatives winning over 50% of the vote and Labour barely held on to their seat in Batley and Spen (their vote share declined by 7% from the poor 2019 result). I guess this is a long way of saying a 1997-style Labour landslide may not take place. But even if it does, thanks to the Truss/Kwarteng inspired collapse in Tory support, progressive parties should by now have learned they must work together to ensure that Britain’s progressive majority should not be undermined by the quirks of the British electoral system.  They must work together.  But how to do this in the absence of a formal deal?

First, they need to focus on winning—and this Starmer seems to be saying and doing.  He talks about winning being the main goal (he describes himself as an extremely competitive player on a football pitch—and intends to bring that competitive spirit into the campaign) and has put in place a Shadow Cabinet which looks ready to govern—comparing very favourably against those currently in Government.  He brought back Yvette Cooper and replaced Annelise Dodds with Rachel Reeves as Shadow Chancellor and appointed Wes Streeting as Shadow Health Secretary—these were all smart moves.  It seems clear from the extent of Lib Dem victories that Labour did not put up a strong fight in these  constituencies.  The British electorate is sophisticated about tactical voting and, to defeat the Tories, will know what to do (and sites like “Swap My Vote”[3] are there to help them with smart tactical voting advice).  People forget that in the 1997 General Election, the Lib Dems won 46 seats (up sharply from 18 beforehand) partly thanks to smart tactical voting, but this jump was overshadowed by the Labour landslide.

Labour will need to make some hard choices in order to bring both the Lib Dems and Greens onside.  The former will be much easier—the seats which could swing yellow are easier to identify and are mostly Tory-held. There are few seats likely to swing Green—the mountain is too high to climb.  Here Starmer and the Labour Party should exhibit a quality all too rare in politics—generosity—and identify a few seats where Greens could possibly have a chance at winning and effectively step aside.  For the Green Party to go from 1 to even 3 or 4 seats would be an enormous boost for them, not much skin off the other’s noses, and probably good for the country (confession: I have a bias as a Green Party member).  In Scotland, there is no need for any deal or cooperation in advance of the election—the hard negotiating will come after the election is fought and the key issue will be obvious.  Starmer can take a view then on what is the practical and principled arrangement to be struck with the SNP.

If asked by political journalists they should just repeat two things: 1) “there is no deal”, and 2) “Isn’t it an affront to democracy that the 60%+ (or 70%) of voters who want a progressive Government are ignored by a system that is sustaining a right wing cabal whose only interest is their rich mates?”.  Or given the current preference for three word catch-phrases, “Represent the 60%”.  OK, maybe its technically four words, but at least it rhymes.

Starmer needs to be practical, principled, and courageous to become Prime Minister.  I think he can do it.  I think he will do it.  Given the outcome of the recent Labour conference, it is clear that the blockages of support within the party are disappearing. And if he moves towards PR, he will help to transform himself from being “that boring guy who lacks any charisma” to being “the bold PM who fundamentally reformed British politics and our democracy.”  I told you that I was in an optimistic mood 😊.


Rodney Schwartz

London, UK—27 September 2022

I started my career in mainstream finance and shifted into impact investing before returning to my lifelong passion of politics in early 2021. This blog reflects that return and is my way of sharing the impressions of someone journeying from “proper jobs” in the investment world back into education to study politics after four decades. For those interested in why I started this blog click here, and to read my declaration of known biases, click here. I welcome any comments.


[1] Politico.eu downloaded 27/09/22 at 13.50

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50779901  downloaded 16:50

[3] https://forwarddemocracy.com/swapmyvote/