Liberal democracy in the UK is under threat. Over the last five years, the UK has been gripped by waves of populism and dogmatism that may fundamentally change the way our politics operates. We believe the solution is to empower people to make informed decisions. If the UK is to flourish, free information, vetted by experts, must be available to all people. That’s why we have created Lit.
Frequently Asked Questions
“Lit” encapsulates the website’s aims: to shine a light on the best the UK has to offer, and to encourage a return to enlightenment (evidence-based) thinking.
Who funds you?
In short – you do. Click here to donate to the project.
Our start-up funding was kindly awarded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and our executive director was given start-up advice courtesy of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. Our company structure is a Community Interest Company, as this provides maximum transparency while preventing unfair remuneration practises via dividends (CICs do not utilise shares). Our board of directors includes people from across the political spectrum, to ensure political balance. You can check us out, with our fully audited accounts, on Companies House.
I want to pitch an article. Who do I contact?
We will mostly be sourcing our articles from the core Lit writing team, but if you have any contributions then click here to access our online form.
How do you ensure political balance in your content?
Our board of directors contains people from across the political spectrum, and both remain voters and leave voters.
What are my data rights?
A few words from Frances Weetman, Lit’s Director and Founder:
My resignation from the Labour Party went public the day after my grandmother’s funeral. Life was transformed for me by both events. The effects of a personal bereavement may be understandable, but I didn’t anticipate the overwhelming response on social media to news of my resignation. Perhaps I should have – after all I was the first elected representative (as a local councillor) in the UK to resign their party membership over antisemitism. Nothing could have prepared me for the torrent of abuse I went on to receive over the following year. Unwarranted, I found myself added to an online list of ‘paedophiles’, I was hounded by Labour members for taking a leave of absence during cancer investigations, and I received daily abuse and threats.
My life has changed dramatically. I no longer answer calls to my front door, and have had to have police presence at my councillor surgeries.
It would be easy to see me as a victim. But the disruption to my daily life is insignificant compared with the damage that has been done to British democracy. What happened to me is a symptom of its malaise. Tribal party loyalties have torn our country apart. Gone are the days when elections were fought and won on positive visions of the future, or on policy agendas. Our politics has become unthinking, with slogans and personality cults winning over fact-based debate. Our politics has lapsed into finger-pointing, and a chronic failure to see the problems in our own backyard. It’s now politics rather than policies, and party before country.
These problems are confounded by 24-hour news media that, in their search for constant content and clickbait, give undue attention to vox pops and the views of political extremists. We all find ourselves watching news programmes that are dominated by pundits who, in other decades, would probably not have been given a platform – and, if they had, would have been laughed at. Social media has worsened the problems associated with our politics, not alleviated them: dubiously-funded propaganda sits innocently wedged between our wedding snaps and pet videos. Dogmatism triumphs. The result is a politics that is shaped not by the knowledgeable, but by those that shout the loudest.
There has to be another way.
If the UK is to flourish in the modern world, it must tolerate difference while also having the strength to say no to demagogues and extremists. The UK should return to celebrating and encouraging the British traditions of moderation, intellectual enquiry, open debate and innovation. It should be self-critical, learning from Britain’s colonial past, while acknowledging the UK’s merits.
The UK has a great deal to be proud of. We ignited the industrial revolution, invented the railways and created the internet. When other Western nations focused on capitalism, the UK decided to go further in inventing the NHS and the welfare state. These twin drivers of innovation and compassion seem all but absent in today’s sound-bite-heavy discourse. It is time that they reappeared at the centre of our democracy.
Most importantly, we must return to the belief that truth matters. Information must be free, undogmatic and empowering. People should be able to access information that has been vetted by experts, instead of by partisan news editors. This requires that our press moves away from clickbait, and favours quality content over quantity.
I believe in being part of the solution. Since my Labour resignation, I have spent many nights asking myself if it would be possible to mend a politics that seems irreparably broken.
This website is the end result of those countless sleepless nights. It will provide a place where people can find easy-to-read articles, which have been vetted by experts in their field, and that explain current affairs and how our democracy works. It will be a place to learn about experiences of life in the UK, and a place to find out about new and innovative solutions to social problems across the country. It will concentrate on policies, not politics. I hope that this new website will mark the beginning of online media driven by a positive vision of the future.
When reading or listening to our content, the Lit team ask only one thing: don’t take our word for it. Our articles will be fully sourced and provide links to reading material on other sites. Why? Because the Lit team believes that free information should empower every British citizen to be the individual they want to be. We believe that information is the key to the UK’s future.
We haven’t had enough of experts.