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School of Politics and International Relations

In defence of the U-turn - in politics and life


We have certainly seen our fair share of government U-turns during this pandemic. In Britain, the most notable recent one was the decision to extend the provision of free meals to underprivileged children to cover the school summer holidays, after pressure from a campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford. It raises the question of whether we should stop chastising politicians for changing their minds, and instead, cheer them for doing so. This article argues that contrary to its negative image, a U-turn is a sign of a healthy and functional democracy; a demonstration that a government is willing to listen and that the media, opposition parties and general public have the power to hold their leaders to account. Professor Tim Bale, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "Democracy isn't just about an election every five years. It's a continual process of back and forth: listening, - calibrating and adjusting."

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