Trust in trouble: how can we do democracy differently?

This panel discussed how we can do democracy differently, and how deliberative methods could help rebuild trust in our politics.
  • Event time:
    4th July 2023 18:30 – 19:45
  • Event address:
    Science Gallery London, Lecture Theatre Great Maze Pond London SE1 9GU
  • Format:

The UK has internationally low trust in its political institutions, with confidence in parliament halving since 1990, and very few having faith in the government or political parties. 

Yet despite this disillusionment, support for democracy is extremely high and rising in the UK – we are just much less convinced by how it is working for us right now. 

With the majority of the population not confident that “people like them” have a say in what the government does, is it time to consider how we can better engage citizens in decision-making?   

Deliberative democracy brings people from diverse backgrounds together, gives them access to credible and authoritative information, and provides the conditions for dialogue that encourages and helps people to reach conclusions and make recommendations.  

It’s a process that has helped to bring about real legislative change on issues that were previously considered intractable, such as abortion. 

Join our panel for the latest in the Deliberate series - a partnership between NatCen and the Policy Institute - to discuss how we can do democracy differently, and how deliberative methods could help rebuild trust in our politics. 


  • Douglas Alexander
    Former Minister State and Secretary of State
  • Miriam Levin
    Chief Executive Engage Britain
  • Jane Suiter
    Professor, Political scientist and Director Dublin City University's Institute for Future Media, Democracy, and Society


  • Ceri Davies
    Director of the Centre for Deliberation National Centre for Social Research
    View full profile

    Ceri is interested in how the public has a voice in the decisions that shape their lives – be that through democratic means, in policy development, understanding the implications of science and technology and influencing or contributing to the questions that researchers ask. 

    She has been working at the intersection of evidence and practice in public participation for over 15 years, through roles in community development, in social research and on not-for-profit boards. The creation and her leadership of the Centre for Delberation continues this general theme – with a focus on bringing social science rigour to an innovative range of research on public attitudes and policy making in the context of democratic innovation.

    The Centre's current work tackles large scale societal issues, such as Brexit, the environment and inequalities, bringing diverse perspectives into conversation with evidence at local and national scales, to explore complex or contentious social issues that impact policy, support the articulation of social attitudes and make a difference to society. Alongside this, the Centre is a national leader in methodological developments, particularly the use of online methods - and provides fresh thinking on how deliberative research can respond to big societal questions now and in the future.    This includes experimental work such as our ground-breaking online Deliberative Polls on post-Brexit policy making and participating in the Rethinking Public Dialogue programme to explore how deliberation might be scaled through creating rapid and accessible formats. 

    With a background in academia and civil society, Ceri previously led the University of Brighton’s Community Knowledge Exchange (2008-2018) and completed her doctorate exploring knowledge and power in participatory research on issues of social justice. She is a volunteer at Sussex Nightstop (a small charity developing community-based responses to homelessness), an associate editor of Research For All and an advisory board member of the Citizens Convention on UK Democracy.

  • Suzanne Hall
    Director of Engagement the Policy Institute at King’s College London