Recent blog posts from around the School

Blog: The West Midlands – a bellwether for the election?

Blog: The West Midlands – a bellwether for the election?
Description
In this post, Cherry Miller discusses the key battleground seats and issues in the West Midlands. The original version of this post was published as part of the General Election 2015 series on the LSE British Politics and Policy Blog on 14th April 2015.
Date:
Friday 24th April 2015

Blog: Deaths in the Mediterranean are a direct result of ongoing crisis in north Africa

Blog: Deaths in the Mediterranean are a direct result of ongoing crisis in north Africa
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson, a political economist working predominantly on conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. A core area of interest is decentralisation and governance and it was his extensive experience in Sierra Leone immediately following the war that led him into the area of conflict analysis and security sector reform.
Date:
Friday 24th April 2015

Blog: Make elections work for you: check the polls, but follow the money

Blog: Make elections work for you: check the polls, but follow the money
Description
Written by Chris Game. "Spoiler alert: this is a blog about elections, but not local elections – mainly because it's about election betting, and, with one conspicuous exception, which will be mentioned, our modern-day local election contests and candidates are rarely of sufficiently general interest to attract much serious fixed odds betting."
Date:
Friday 24th April 2015

Blog: Seventh Annual POLSIS Postgraduate Colloquium

Blog: Seventh Annual POLSIS Postgraduate Colloquium
Description
This all day event is a brilliant opportunity for staff and students to find out what the School's PhD students are working on, as well as an opportunity for all our PhD students and staff to get together and discuss ongoing research.
Date:
Monday 13th April 2015

Blog: Council Tax Support – anatomy of a Pickles' localism triumph

Blog: Council Tax Support – anatomy of a Pickles' localism triumph
Description
Written by Chris Game. Shortly before the dissolution of Parliament, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles issued an apparently self-penned eulogy of his ministerial record, entitled on the Government's own website, in characteristic, cod Churchillian, style: Local Government: Delivering for England. It makes an interesting document, as would be hoped of one requiring two separate links.
Date:
Friday 10th April 2015

Blog: Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa

Blog: Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa
Description
Written by Jonathan Fisher, lecturer in IDD. Jonathan Fisher and David M. Anderson published the article: Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa this January, 2015. We asked Jonathan what drives his research interest in this field and to address some of the issues captured in the article.
Date:
Thursday 2nd April 2015

Blog: The cyber threat to the United Kingdom

Blog: The cyber threat to the United Kingdom
Description
Written by Gavin Hall, Doctoral Researcher in POLSIS. When the new government takes office in May 2015 one of the first tasks will be to initiate a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Date:
Monday 30th March 2015

Blog: Queen Cersei and the evaporating Revenue Support Grant

Blog: Queen Cersei and the evaporating Revenue Support Grant
Description
Written by Chris Game, Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV. Next week is the last week of Hilary Term, or revision week at the end of Spring Term, as it's known here at the UoB and most other universities who feel no great affinity to the probably inappropriately named 4th Century St Hilarius of Poitiers. Over the many years in which I lectured undergraduates, I used rather to like it: end of the course/module in sight, legitimate chance to share and spread gossip about approaching local elections, lecture attendances boosted by students desperate for exam hints. Plus, nowadays, plenty of discussion-prompting visual aids – one of which is the pretext for this blog.
Date:
Friday 20th March 2015

Blog: In Crimea, Time for Pressure

Blog: In Crimea, Time for Pressure
Description
By Liana Fix - Associate Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations and Visiting PhD Researcher at the University of Birmingham. Forgetting about Crimea and the fate of the Crimean Tatars means implicitly acknowledging Russia's claim to the region. Instead, the international community must demonstrate to Russia that its arbitrary interpretation of international law regarding Crimea has long-term consequences. We are not yet in a post-Crimea phase.
Date:
Thursday 19th March 2015

Blog: Grubby-handed local politicians? It's called local democracy and devolution, Sarah!

Blog: Grubby-handed local politicians? It's called local democracy and devolution, Sarah!
Description
Written by Chris Game, Honorary Senior Lecturer, INLOGOV. The BBC's Radio 4 Today programme isn't what Americans would call a Hot Talk show, and nicely spoken presenter Sarah Montague, even in her own fantasies, is no shock jock. So listeners must have been slightly surprised to hear her, while questioning the proposed devolution of NHS funding to Greater Manchester's combined authority, talk of "local politicians sticking their grubby hands into the decision-making process".
Date:
Friday 13th March 2015

Blog: International Women's Day and Britain's gender gap of shame

Blog: International Women's Day and Britain's gender gap of shame
Description
Written by Chris Game. Sunday sees the 107th celebration of International Women's Day (IWD), and for the 102nd year on March 8. It's a longer history than is often supposed and, reflected in its still occasionally used Leninist title – International Working Women's Day – a more socialist one.
Date:
Friday 6th March 2015

Blog: What is local government for?

Blog: What is local government for?
Description
Written by Howard Elcock. Do we know what local government is for? Is it just a device for providing services to people at the behest of the central government, or does it provide local citizens with a means of making policy choices about what they want their councils to do?
Date:
Thursday 5th March 2015

Blog: Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (I)

Blog: Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (I)
Description
Written by Dr Fran Amery, Dr Stephen Bates and Professor Steve McKay . Ever wondered about the gendered dimensions of the REF returns and rankings for the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment? Well wonder no longer.
Date:
Thursday 5th March 2015

Blog: Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (II)

Blog: Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (II)
Description
Written by Dr Fran Amery, Dr Stephen Bates and Professor Steve McKay. This is the second of two posts on gender and the Research Excellence Framework (you may also be interested in this post on what titles of outputs submitted to the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment tell us about (sub-)disciplinary trends).
Date:
Thursday 5th March 2015

Blog: A Corpus-Based Analysis of REF Output Titles for Politics and International Studies*

Blog: A Corpus-Based Analysis of REF Output Titles for Politics and International Studies*
Description
Written by Dr Stephen Bates. Have you ever wondered what the titles of outputs submitted to the REF tell us about disciplinary trends, foci and boundaries? Well, thanks to the wonder of corpus linguistics and Laurence Anthony's AntConc, wonder no longer.
Date:
Wednesday 4th March 2015

Blog: The expansion of arms-length government is not necessarily at odds with democratic accountability

Blog: The expansion of arms-length government is not necessarily at odds with democratic accountability
Description
How democratic is arms-length government? Catherine Durose, Jonathan B. Justice and Chris Skelcher argue that those who consider it to be an undemocratic phenomenon over-simplify, and make the case for assessing the question in a more citizen and community focussed manner.
Date:
Monday 2nd March 2015

Blog: The future is analogue – confirms local government's Honey Man

Blog: The future is analogue – confirms local government's Honey Man
Description
Written by Chris Game is a Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV. Of all the reactions to Northamptonshire County Council's controversial 'Next Generation Model' – abandoning service provision in favour of outsourcing everything to 'specialist social enterprises' – few can have been as measured and dispassionate as my colleague Ian Briggs' reflections on the merits or otherwise of Public Interest Companies (PICs).
Date:
Thursday 26th February 2015

Blog: All eyes on Manchester

Blog: All eyes on Manchester
Description
Written by Catherine Needham, Reader in Public Policy and Public Management at the Health Services Management Centre. If you live in Birmingham, like I do, you could be forgiven for feeling slightly green-eyed at what is going on in Manchester at the moment. After the unprecedented devolution package that the city secured at the end of 2014, it has today been announced that Greater Manchester will be given complete control of its £6 billion NHS budget.
Date:
Thursday 26th February 2015

Blog: Getting to Grips with Public Interest Companies

Blog: Getting to Grips with Public Interest Companies
Description
Written by ian Briggs. The recent announcement by Northamptonshire County Council heralding a move towards a 'next generation model' where four public interest companies are to be established to deliver front line services and leaving a core client organisation of around 150 employees adds to the growing number of councils (and other parts of the public sector) who are seeking to adopt this model. What is interesting here is that is goes far beyond the tired rhetoric of what is best, direct public provision or privatisation?
Date:
Tuesday 24th February 2015

Blog: Pickles' Shock-horror News: Biggest Councils Have Biggest Tax Arrears

Blog: Pickles' Shock-horror News: Biggest Councils Have Biggest Tax Arrears
Description
Written by Chris Game, Visiting Lecturer at INLOGOV. Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is famed for his sensitive news antennae. I wonder therefore just what – in a week dominated by revelations of his party's and government's moral flakiness on the whole tax collection business – persuaded those antennae that it would be a good time to attack local authorities' tax collecting record.
Date:
Friday 20th February 2015

Blog: Core Activities: notes from the Core Cities Summit, February 2015

Blog: Core Activities: notes from the Core Cities Summit, February 2015
Description
Written by Daniel Goodwin, Associate Fellow of INLOGOV. On the 11th February over 300 people from across the public sector met for the Core Cities Summit in Glasgow. This post summarises the point reached so far and some of the conference's live issues, and suggests three areas for further consideration: how to involve MPs and MSPs more fully, engaging communities in the debate and considering what kind of country the UK should become.
Date:
Friday 20th February 2015

Blog: International court upholds Srebrenica massacre verdicts

Blog: International court upholds Srebrenica massacre verdicts
Description
Written by Louis Monroy Santander, PhD student in IDD, focusing on issues of reconciliation, post-conflict peace-building and social reconstruction in the Western Balkans (Bosnia and Kosovo).
Date:
Monday 2nd February 2015

Blog: Shuffling the decks: quick fixes versus long-term stability

Blog: Shuffling the decks: quick fixes versus long-term stability
Description
Development Progress Blog. Ahead of the launch of our case studies on security progress in Liberia and Timor-Leste, Suda Perera writes on the risk that 'quick fixes' to violent conflict pose to development in the long-term. Taking the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo, she outlines the pitfalls of empowering warring parties and the challenging reality that good elections do not necessarily result in good democracy.
Date:
Friday 23rd January 2015

Blog: Do Local Authorities Really Want Sustainable Construction Powers?

Blog: Do Local Authorities Really Want Sustainable Construction Powers?
Description
Written by Max Lempriere, Third year PhD student in POLSIS. National planning policy and building regulations have undergone considerable reform in recent years. The latest incarnation is embodied in the Housing Standards Review, (HSR) published in 2014. The HSR sought to consolidate the plethora of standards into national building regulations whilst making it harder to local authorities (LAs) to introduce standards that supplement these national regulations in response to local needs or priorities. One area where local powers have been significantly curtailed by the HSR is in the sustainability and energy efficiency of homes.
Date:
Wednesday 21st January 2015

Blog: The fairness (or otherwise) of the 2015-16 local government finance settlement

Blog: The fairness (or otherwise) of the 2015-16 local government finance settlement
Description
Written by Chris Game. In choosing to announce the 2015-16 local government finance settlement just eight days before Christmas, ministers presumably hoped – as, indeed, I'd expected – that the argument about the presentation of funding and spending cut statistics for local authorities, both collectively and individually, would have died away by mid-January. However, it hasn't, which is why I too am returning to the topic, which had its importance re-emphasised several times over the past week.
Date:
Wednesday 21st January 2015

Blog: Playwright, Prisoner and President: the Life of Vaclav Havel

Blog: Playwright, Prisoner and President: the Life of Vaclav Havel
Description
Written by Dr Tim Haughton, A review of Michael Zantovsky, Havel: a Life, London: Atlantic Books (2014). You only really appreciate someone when they have left. The death of Vaclav Havel in December 2011 provoked a week of mourning, warm and generous words from his political foes, and for many 'perhaps a rediscovery' of the man who had played so many different roles in his life: playwright, political prisoner and president (p. 14).
Date:
Tuesday 20th January 2015

Blog: Do Local Authorities Really Want Sustainable Construction Powers?

Blog: Do Local Authorities Really Want Sustainable Construction Powers?
Description
Written by Max Lempriere. When it comes to setting sustainable construction standards new research reveals English local authorities favour national regulation over local powers.
Date:
Monday 19th January 2015

Blog: New ways of working for district councils

Blog: New ways of working for district councils
Description
Written by Anthony Mason. My primary school history teacher always taught that the shires of England were mapped out by Alfred the Great. For me, that story was confirmed by an illustration in my treasured Ladybird book on the great man (Alfred – not the teacher) that shows four burly Saxons knocking in a waymark post as they lay out the boundary pattern. I still have that book. I later learned that while the reality was much more complicated, it is essentially true that much of our shire county structure would be familiar to a returning Anglo Saxon – even if not much else would be.
Date:
Friday 19th December 2014

Blog: Typhoon Haiyan One Year On: Reflections on Disability Research in the Philippines

Blog: Typhoon Haiyan One Year On: Reflections on Disability Research in the Philippines
Description
Written by David Cobley. Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), the strongest typhoon on record ever to make landfall, ripped across the heavily-populated central Philippine provinces on 8th November 2013, leaving a trail of death, devastation and shattered lives in its wake. One year on, at the time of my visit to the Philippines, many people were still struggling to cope with the catastrophic consequences of Haiyan.
Date:
Thursday 18th December 2014

Blog: The journey to the common: what is the role of the voluntary sector?

Blog: The journey to the common: what is the role of the voluntary sector?
Description
Written by Anna Coleman and Julia Segar. A recent publication by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) looked at how local councils are preparing for the future and suggests depressingly that "there is simply no way that local government can reach 2018 let alone 2020 while still delivering the full range and quality of services currently on offer"(p6). Simply put, we have an ageing population, with associated increasing demand for care services and draconian cuts in council budgets.
Date:
Friday 12th December 2014
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Departmental news

POLSIS Spring Seminar Series Discusses Major Topical Issues

POLSIS Spring Seminar Series Discusses Major Topical Issues
Description
The 2015 POLSIS spring seminar series focused on the crisis in Greece, the rise of populism, rhetoric and leadership, security, ethnic minority representation and the impending British general election.
Date:
01/05/2015

Prestigious best article prize for Birmingham sociologist

Prestigious best article prize for Birmingham sociologist
Description
Dr Will Leggett, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, has been awarded the Best Article 2014 prize by the leading journal Policy & Politics.
Date:
01/05/2015

Birmingham Pre-election debate on Immigration co-hosted by The Guardian

Birmingham Pre-election debate on Immigration co-hosted by The Guardian
Description
The Department of Political Science and International Studies/School of Government and Society co-host a pre-election debate on immigration with The Guardian.
Date:
01/05/2015

Pollsters v bookies: who's on the money in election 2015?

Pollsters v bookies: who's on the money in election 2015?
Description
Written by Chris Game, Honorary Senior Lecturer, INLOGOV. "Polls Apart!" used to be the cliché newspaper headline whenever two opinion polls about an impending election reported fractionally differing findings. For the 2015 election, they're rapidly running out of puns. The sense of frustration is palpable. Those polls keep coming, and none gives a clear idea of who will win.
Date:
01/05/2015

Fiona Nunan co-author of new Climate Compatible Development article

Fiona Nunan co-author of new Climate Compatible Development article
Description
New article in the Journal of Environmental Management demonstrates the economic benefit of a climate compatible development future for mangrove forests in Kenya.
Date:
24/04/2015