Recent blog posts from around the School

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

Blog: The LGC100: what it does and doesn't measure

Blog: The LGC100: what it does and doesn't measure
Description
Written by Chris Game. I used, years ago, to have a whole Pol Sci 1 lecture about power and influence, their similarities and differences. By one of life's synchronicities, I've been reminded of it twice in the past week. Don't go – I'm not about to disinter it, although I will share the six-word summary that I could, if really pushed, get it down to: Power's a tool, Influence a skill.
Date:
Friday 5th December 2014

Blog: The future is Intercommunality – yes, but with whom?

Blog: The future is Intercommunality – yes, but with whom?
Description
Written by Chris Game. Rom com/date movies aren't really my thing, so my excuse for watching the recent Words and Pictures was that I was a captive plane passenger – and that the ever-watchable Juliette Binoche was playing a rheumatoid arthritic abstract painter and prep school art teacher. The title refers to the silly challenge she charily accepts from alcoholic poet turned plagiarising English teacher, Clive Owen, to 'prove' whether Words or Pictures are more meaningful.
Date:
Monday 1st December 2014

Blog: Ebola - where are the governments?

Blog: Ebola - where are the governments?
Description
Written by Dr Andrew Nickson. The terrible Ebola tragedy has spawned massive coverage in the world's media of Sierra Leone and Liberia – with harrowing images of victims, relatives, health workers, doctors, and aid agency staff. Yet one key 'stakeholder' in the fight against Ebola has been notably missing from this coverage – the government of both countries. Most of us would be hard pressed to name the presidents of either country* as they have been almost invisible, and the same goes for their respective health ministers.
Date:
Friday 21st November 2014

Blog: The PwC report on Tower Hamlets highlights fundamental tensions in local democracy, not always thought through clearly in new mayoral systems

Blog: The PwC report on Tower Hamlets highlights fundamental tensions in local democracy, not always thought through clearly in new mayoral systems
Description
Written by Michael Keith. Competent bureaucrats commonly believe they protect the public interest by delivering transparent decision making in public institutions. This is commendable. Politicians normally believe that they are elected to carry out the wishes of their voters. This is forgivable. But these imperatives rub against each other when politicians try reshaping things in an image they prefer and the bureaucrat wants to preserve an order they recognize. This is difficult.
Date:
Friday 21st November 2014

Blog: Pickles' Tower Hamlets takeover: a sad affair all round

Blog: Pickles' Tower Hamlets takeover: a sad affair all round
Description
Written by Chris Game. He kept Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, waiting until almost literally the 23rd hour of the 14th day of his two-week deadline. In the end, though, Tower Hamlets' elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, having last Friday lost his second, and ill-advised, application for a judicial review, was left with little choice.
Date:
Thursday 20th November 2014

Blog: What legacy will the rush to build houses leave for the next generation?

Blog: What legacy will the rush to build houses leave for the next generation?
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. Many rural and semi-rural localities are struggling to cope with the increasing number of applications for potential new housing developments, a proportion of which seem to defy logic and sound planning sense when matched against local knowledge and established patterns of socialisation.
Date:
Thursday 13th November 2014

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 3: courage

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 3: courage
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. Leadership is not a sprint – it's a marathon. You are in it for the long haul and that is why courage is so important. Maya Angelou argued that courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently and that is certainly evident in the role of chief executive. Not only do you need to keep yourself going through challenging times, you also need to be able to demonstrate courage to your staff and members. If you falter, so will they.
Date:
Friday 31st October 2014

Blog: Achieving better outcomes for the troubled family of local government

Blog: Achieving better outcomes for the troubled family of local government
Description
Written by Simon Parker. In this debate, Simon Parker (NLGN), Catherine Staite (INLOGOV) and Tony Bovaird (INLOGOV) agree that the current state of UK local government is unsustainable – but see different routes to rescuing a sustainable future.
Date:
Thursday 30th October 2014

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 2: charm

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 2: charm
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. Charm is shorthand for a sophisticated set of skills which enable you to make new connections and solve old problems. Charm is about much more than being nice in a superficial way – otherwise known as 'smarm'. If you don't have real charm then just be gruff and honest. Everyone will understand. Smarm, on the other hand, will simply breed distrust.
Date:
Tuesday 28th October 2014

Blog: Postcard from Tokyo: local government remorse, Japanese-style

Blog: Postcard from Tokyo: local government remorse, Japanese-style
Description
Written by Chris Game. I've had the good fortune to spend the past week in Tokyo, as Japan commemorates the 50th anniversary of arguably the most geo-politically transformative Olympic Games, in the city that underwent a scarcely credible urban transformation in order to stage them.
Date:
Monday 27th October 2014

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 1: creativity

Blog: Preaching to the choir: reflections on key leadership skills for local authority chief executives – part 1: creativity
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. I have called this blog series 'preaching to the choir' as it is dedicated to local authority chief executives and they already know a great deal about leadership. They wouldn't survive and thrive in their posts if they didn't.
Date:
Friday 24th October 2014
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Departmental news

Russia has lost an opposition leader of substance

Russia has lost an opposition leader of substance
Description
Written by Dr David White. "The key challenge for Russia's broad opposition movement is to maintain consistently high levels of protest by mobilising passive opponents of the regime – not just as a response to specific events and outside of election periods."
Date:
04/03/2015

Iraq government cuts threaten its brightest students abroad

Iraq government cuts threaten its brightest students abroad
Description
Written by Professor Scott Lucas. Iraqis pursuing postgraduate study abroad face a difficult future, after the country's higher education minister signed two measures cutting their stipends by up to 50% and limiting support to three years.
Date:
04/03/2015

Netanyahu's address to Congress was more about politics than Iran

Netanyahu's address to Congress was more about politics than Iran
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. Until Tuesday, Winston Churchill was the only foreign leader to have addressed the US Congress on three separate occasions. Now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has joined this very exclusive club.
Date:
04/03/2015

In death, Boris Nemtsov embodies the hope of a better Russia

In death, Boris Nemtsov embodies the hope of a better Russia
Description
Written by Dr Adrian Campbell. For Russia to make peace with its troubled post-Communist history, it needs a 1990s hero to remember. Boris Nemtsov could be just that.
Date:
02/03/2015

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Corporate influence on institutional development in an emerging economy: The case of China

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Corporate influence on institutional development in an emerging economy: The case of China
Description
Speaker: Professor John Child, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham. This seminar examines the role of large corporations in shaping institutional development, with particular reference to China. Although institutions are potentially powerful actors in the Chinese business environment, reflecting considerable control by government and Party, there has been scope for non-Chinese corporations to influence the development of their regulations and policies.
Date:
27/02/2015