Recent blog posts from around the School

Blog: The Boko Haram ceasefire and violence in Nigeria

Blog: The Boko Haram ceasefire and violence in Nigeria
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson. Amongst the violent international groups vying for our attention, Boko Haram in Nigeria has been one of the most persistent. Boko Haram declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014, and the group has been raiding several cities across the north.
Date:
Friday 24th October 2014

Blog: Can smart maps improve local government?

Blog: Can smart maps improve local government?
Description
Written by Walter T. de Vries. Local governments are increasingly making use of internet-based applications and social media to provide services and to interact with citizens. Are these applications however really helping local governments?
Date:
Wednesday 8th October 2014

Blog: Cinderella has been at the ball for more than a century and no one has noticed her!

Blog: Cinderella has been at the ball for more than a century and no one has noticed her!
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. Local government has struggled with the concept of localism for far longer than most of us might think. It has not just been the clarion call of localism from the Coalition Government since 2010 and the subsequence Localism Act that posed some pretty serious questions about the structure of our local democratic processes. The issue of connectivity between the citizen and the 'agent of the state' has been under academic scrutiny for a long time.
Date:
Tuesday 7th October 2014

Blog: Buying local votes? Campaign spending effects in Belgian local elections

Blog: Buying local votes? Campaign spending effects in Belgian local elections
Description
Written by Gert-Jan Put, Bart Maddens and Jef Smulders. In democratic countries worldwide, elections are being organized on an increasingly larger scale. This makes it more challenging for political parties and candidates to communicate with voters and reach their target groups. Alternatively, they resort to mass media and costly electoral campaigns, for which parties and candidates are often prepared to spend exorbitant amounts of money.
Date:
Monday 6th October 2014

Blog: Local government: keepers of the moral compass?

Blog: Local government: keepers of the moral compass?
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. Barry Quirk's excellent article in the Local Government Chronicle highlighted the often overlooked role of local government as the guardian of pubic ethics.
Date:
Tuesday 30th September 2014

Blog: Local government - more appreciated than it often thinks

Blog: Local government - more appreciated than it often thinks
Description
Written by Chris Game. Someone asked me recently if, in those opinion polls that regularly monitor these things, net satisfaction with the government's record was ever positive. In other words, are there ever nowadays more of us satisfied than dissatisfied with those who govern us, or have we become, on balance, a nation of malcontents, whoever we happen to have elected?
Date:
Tuesday 30th September 2014

Blog: What skills does a 21st Century fire service need?

Blog: What skills does a 21st Century fire service need?
Description
Written by Dave Cross. Over the past twenty years the fire service, like many other public sector agencies has undergone radical change. Whilst the public's expectation of the fire service as a response based fire and rescue service remains the same, the organisational expectations of fire fighters has increased markedly. To quote a senior Greater Manchester fire officer "The job of a fire fighter nowadays has changed from not just putting out fires… to almost being a semi social worker".
Date:
Friday 26th September 2014

Blog: Devo max - what it is and why it won't happen

Blog: Devo max - what it is and why it won't happen
Description
Written by Chris Game. Devo Max – it sounds like a 99% efficient toilet cleaner, or a dodgy West Country car dealer, but either way I visualise its initials in upper case. And that's its problem. It's undoubtedly the 'must use' expression of the month. It's not complicated, like 'full fiscal autonomy' or the Barnett formula, so anyone feels able to drop it authoritatively into even casual conversation. And everyone has their own idea of what it is.
Date:
Thursday 25th September 2014

Blog: In case you missed it: the Local Government (Independence) Bill

Blog: In case you missed it: the Local Government (Independence) Bill
Description
Written by Chris Game. It was partly the timing. In combination, the suddenly increased likelihood of both Scottish independence and a Coalition break-up were bound to eclipse last Friday's scheduled Second Reading of the Local Government (Independence) Bill. It was unfortunate, though. After all, local government independence would be a pretty big deal too, wouldn't it?
Date:
Tuesday 9th September 2014

Blog: Councils should have the power NOT to tax supermarkets

Blog: Councils should have the power NOT to tax supermarkets
Description
Written by Chris Game. There's no shortage of reasons to dislike supermarkets generally and Tesco in particular – their flimsy carrier bags, their irritating BOGOFs and BOGOHOs (Buy One, Get One Half Off), their unpoliced disabled parking bays, their Everyday Value instant coffee granules. Then there are all the economic, environmental and social reasons – the ones understandably more emphasised in Derby City Council's recent proposal that local authorities be given the power to introduce a levy of 8.5% of rateable value on large retail outlets: a supermarket or Tesco tax, as it was instantly labelled by the media.
Date:
Monday 1st September 2014

Blog: On Reporting the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Blog: On Reporting the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Description
Written by Dr Kamala Imranli-Lowe and Dr Galina Yemelianova. In early August 2014 the British media reported an escalation in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This has brought the conflict, which has been less covered since the cease-fire of May 1994, back to the media's attention. This blog is intended to shed some light on the role of the British, and the wider Western, media in shaping particular attitudes among the public, as well as policy-makers involved in the negotiation process over this conflict.
Date:
Monday 18th August 2014

Blog: Predictably Unpredictable: The 2014 parliamentary elections in Slovenia

Blog: Predictably Unpredictable: The 2014 parliamentary elections in Slovenia
Description
Written by Dr Alenka Krašovec, University of Ljubljana and Dr Tim Haughton, University of Birmingham. Parliamentary elections and party politics in Slovenia are becoming predictable in their unpredictability. For the first two decades of the country's independence party politics was largely stable. True, in the second decade the once mighty force of Slovene politics, Liberal Democracy, saw its support drop, the Social Democrats emerged as a powerful force, but only really for one election in 2008, and there were a stream of new parties...
Date:
Monday 28th July 2014

Blog: From repression to co-production with citizens: Why we need behaviour change in healthcare

Blog: From repression to co-production with citizens: Why we need behaviour change in healthcare
Description
Written by Jörgen Tholstrup. What's the mission of health care? I've been working as a physician and gastroenterologist both in Denmark and Sweden for more than 30 years. Over time, I've become more and more puzzled about our healthcare system and how otherwise responsible human beings can tolerate the way that common behaviourial rules are suspended when you access healthcare.
Date:
Monday 21st July 2014

Blog: Masters students on Kenya study tour 2014

Blog: Masters students on Kenya study tour 2014
Description
Written by Freyja Oddsdottir. For the past couple of years, the IDD has organised a field research trip to assist IDD Masters students with the logistics of field research, which is an optional component of their MSc degree. Last year, the destination was Kerala in South India. In June this year, a group of 16 students travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, along with Dr Jonathan Fisher and Freyja Oddsdottir, where they stayed for three weeks to conduct field research for their dissertation.
Date:
Monday 21st July 2014

Blog: A view from Barnet's Chris Naylor: how the class of 2014 are responding to perma-austerity

Blog: A view from Barnet's Chris Naylor: how the class of 2014 are responding to perma-austerity
Description
Written by Chris Naylor. Two weeks ago I gave the lunchtime pep talk to a dozen young hopeful students each vying for a coveted place on Barnet's graduate programme. Furiously clever, ambitious for Barnet and public services more generally – I didn't envy those with the task of making a final selection. Like the alumni who have come through the Council's programme before them, many of whom a decade on, as senior managers, continue to make a profound contribution to the success of the borough, the Class of '14 will truly be the 21st Century Public Servants.
Date:
Tuesday 15th July 2014

Blog: How can the 21st century public servant survive an era of perma-austerity?

Blog: How can the 21st century public servant survive an era of perma-austerity?
Description
Written by Catherine Mangan. We are launching the first theme from our 21st Century Public Servant project – the need to survive a seemingly unending period of austerity – to coincide with the Local Government Association conference, where austerity is a central theme. Our research with local government and other public service delivery organisations found that 'perma-austerity' is both inhibiting and catalysing change, as organisations struggle to balance short-term cost-cutting and redundancies with a strategic vision for change.
Date:
Monday 14th July 2014

Blog: 21st century public servant: the discussion phase

Blog: 21st century public servant: the discussion phase
Description
Written by Catherine Needham. This post is based on a provocation which I posed at INLOGOV's recent Summer Symposium. It is an attempt to move on the conversation about engagement between local government, other public institutions, citizens and communities.
Date:
Tuesday 8th July 2014

Blog: What happened to the NOC councils after the May elections: a moan and a puff

Blog: What happened to the NOC councils after the May elections: a moan and a puff
Description
Written by Chris Game. 'Five Days in May': the time it took in 1940 for Churchill to manoeuvre the War Cabinet into a five-year World War, in 2010 to form Britain's first post-war peacetime coalition – and in 2014 for Tower Hamlets LBC to announce its local election results. OK, I've exaggerated – it was actually 119 hours after the polls closed, so only 4.96 days, but still not good, even discounting the malpractice allegations.
Date:
Monday 30th June 2014

Blog: Politics shape services; and services shape politics

Blog: Politics shape services; and services shape politics
Description
Written by Professor Richard Batley. In governance circles, service delivery is often discussed as if it raised common issues across service sectors as diverse as health, education, water and sanitation. Yet within sectors, debates about governance issues are quite distinct.
Date:
Wednesday 25th June 2014

Blog: Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement - a provocation

Blog: Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement - a provocation
Description
Written by Catherine Durose. This post is based on a provocation which I posed at INLOGOV's recent Summer Symposium. It is an attempt to move on the conversation about engagement between local government, other public institutions, citizens and communities.
Date:
Friday 20th June 2014

Blog: Re-valuing The Public

Blog: Re-valuing The Public
Description
Written by Teresa L. Córdova. When we are on the ground getting the policies implemented, or perhaps even making the policies, we focus on doing what we can get done. One of our first questions is, "what are the constraints, the limits of what is possible (or probable), given current fiscal conditions, regulatory structures, or political dynamics."
Date:
Friday 20th June 2014

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap
Description
Written by Daniel Goodwin. England is around halfway through significant reductions in public expenditure and heading for a 'new normal' at much lower levels, whilst seeing demographic and other pressures rise. Local Government is currently projected to see a £10.5bn funding drop between 2010and 2020.
Date:
Friday 13th June 2014

Blog: Democracy in The Circle: a route to reconnection and engagement?

Blog: Democracy in The Circle: a route to reconnection and engagement?
Description
Written by Frank Hendriks. One of the theme's at INLOGOV's 2014 summer symposium is "Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement." One of the possible routes is tellingly sketched in Dave Eggers's recent novel The Circle (2013).
Date:
Friday 13th June 2014

Blog: Towards a people-centred language of demand management

Blog: Towards a people-centred language of demand management
Description
Written by Gavin Jones. I'm regularly asked to make presentations to groups of people (the last one being to 22 Deputy Lord Lieutenants!) to set out the issues and opportunities facing local government in the light of increasingly painful budget cuts. Of the pictorial slides I use to tell the story, the one guaranteed to have the greatest impact and make people hold their heads in their hands and mutter depressing words of despair is my 'motivational' slide that alarmingly shows demand outstripping resources at a frightening pace – often known as the '' or 'Map of Misery'.
Date:
Wednesday 11th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Why transitional justice proponents say the field is important: The risk of leaving things as they are

Saving Humans blog: Why transitional justice proponents say the field is important: The risk of leaving things as they are
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Continuing on from yesterday, generally, regardless of the focus, TJ presupposes that there is a significant risk in leaving things the way they are, after conflict.
Date:
Friday 6th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Confronting legacies of violence after conflict: What is Transitional Justice?

Saving Humans blog: Confronting legacies of violence after conflict: What is Transitional Justice?
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Transitional justice (TJ) is essentially a field that grew around a single question: how do you address the legacy of conflict-related violence and widespread human rights abuses? The first time that we as an international community really had to think about how to address the mess of war and the impact of genocide and what consequently became known as crimes against humanity was of course at the Nuremburg Trials in relation to the holocaust in the wake of World War Two.
Date:
Thursday 5th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Consultation, Respect, and Inclusivity: DIY Democracy in Turkey

Saving Humans blog: Consultation, Respect, and Inclusivity: DIY Democracy in Turkey
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Last week marked the first-year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests in Turkey. The following piece reflects on the protests and their meaning.
Date:
Wednesday 4th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: The concept and realities of post-revolution reform in Tunisia

Saving Humans blog: The concept and realities of post-revolution reform in Tunisia
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Tunisian society has been engaging with both the concept and realities of post-revolution reform for the last three years. As last week's attack at the Tunisian minister of interior's house shows, the process has been hard going.
Date:
Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Blog: Depoliticisation and the Father's Clause in Parliamentary debates

Blog: Depoliticisation and the Father's Clause in Parliamentary debates
Description
Dr Stephen Bates, Dr Laura Jenkins and Fran Amery, use work on in vitro fertilisation to think through depoliticisation. Our article argues that (de)politicisation may occur outside of formal governmental arenas and should not be regarded simply as a form of statecraft. Specifically, we explore in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the parliamentary debates surrounding the addition and eventual removal of the Father's Clause of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Acts.
Date:
Thursday 29th May 2014

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap
Description
Written by Daniel Goodwin. England around halfway through significant reductions in public expenditure and heading for a 'new normal' at much lower levels, whilst seeing demographic and other pressures rise. Local Government is currently projected to see a £10.5bn funding drop between 2010 and 2020. Pressures on services are projected to rise by around £6bn, resulting in a £16.5bn total gap, under-resourcing services by around 30%. This average masks a wide variation – the LGA predicts that some of the poorest areas are projected only to be around 55% funded by 2020, whilst some shire districts will be 100% funded.
Date:
Tuesday 27th May 2014
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Departmental news

Startling new concessions made by Syria's desperate president

Startling new concessions made by Syria's desperate president
Description
Written by Professor Scott Lucas. Assad is running out of options – and he seems to be admitting it for the first time.
Date:
29/07/2015

Podcast: Smart, smart, and many versus few and bespoke: Will small drones shift the character of conflict?

Podcast: Smart, smart, and many versus few and bespoke: Will small drones shift the character of conflict?
Description
Speaker: Dr Thomas X Hammes, Distinguished Research Fellow, Center for Strategic Research, Institute of National Strategic Studies. The convergence of artificial intelligence, drone technology, and additive manufacturing are making the advent of swarms of small, autonomous drones a reality. Their debut on the battlefield will dramatically change the character of war in air, land, space, and sea domains.
Date:
24/07/2015

How Brazil and Argentina defused their nuclear rivalry

How Brazil and Argentina defused their nuclear rivalry
Description
Nicholas John Wheeler, University of Birmingham and Matias Spektor, Fundação Getúlio Vargas. Latin America's two biggest players spent much of the 1980s in a low-grade arms race – and they both had nuclear aspirations. How did they manage to diffuse the tension?
Date:
20/07/2015

Iran nuclear deal is built on trust as well as verification

Iran nuclear deal is built on trust as well as verification
Description
Written by Joshua Baker and Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. Announcing the nuclear deal agreed this week between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the so-called E3+3 (the EU3 of France, Germany and the United Kingdom plus the United States, Russia, and China), US President Barack Obama declared: 'This deal is not built on trust, it is built on verification.'
Date:
17/07/2015

What the Iran nuclear deal means – and what it doesn't

What the Iran nuclear deal means – and what it doesn't
Description
Written by Professor Scott Lucas. So there's now a real plan to sort out Iran's nuclear programme. What about all its other problems?
Date:
16/07/2015