Recent blog posts from around the School

Blog: The Big Society lasted 1000 days. Will we ever see ideas of its like again?

Blog: The Big Society lasted 1000 days. Will we ever see ideas of its like again?
Description
Written by Dr Stephen Jeffares. "This is not the first time in the last year we have heard reports of "big ideas" "biting the dust". The same has been levelled at Cameron's purported big idea in politics: The Big Society."
Date:
Wednesday 5th February 2014

Blog: Who is in control of the sandbags?

Blog: Who is in control of the sandbags?
Description
Written by Philip Whiteman and Ian Briggs. "The recent news that the Minister for the Environment, Owen Patterson, has visited flood torn Somerset and the Environment Agency, has had a bit of a tough time in the media. It has started to open up a few interesting questions and issues around who is actually accountable and who is responsible for flood response."
Date:
Tuesday 4th February 2014

Blog: When will they ever learn?

Blog: When will they ever learn?
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. The news of the death of Pete Seeger has reminded me again of his old song 'Where have all the flowers gone?' The line 'oh when will they ever learn?' has been running through my head since I saw an item on the local news about police officers and mental health professionals working together to prevent people with mental health problems ending up in police cells for want of the right support. 'Good stuff!' you might think. Indeed it is - but it is also profoundly depressing to hear such a venture being reported as 'new'.
Date:
Monday 3rd February 2014

Blog: The prospects for a dramatically more representative Parliament post 2015 are bleak

Blog: The prospects for a dramatically more representative Parliament post 2015 are bleak
Description
Written by Catherine Durose, Liz Richardson, Ryan Combs, Francesca Gains and Christina Eason. Whilst the likely outcome of the next election maybe still far too close to call, one feature of the next Parliament is very predictable. The 2015 Parliament is likely to remain as deeply unrepresentative of the make-up of the UK population as the current legislature.
Date:
Friday 31st January 2014

Blog: The impact of media logic on democratic legitimacy in local governance networks

Blog: The impact of media logic on democratic legitimacy in local governance networks
Description
Written by Iris Korthagen and Ingmar van Meerkerk. Many policy- and decision-making processes in today's democracies increasingly take place in governance networks, these are interactive or network forms of governance. This raises an important question of how democratic legitimacy is being shaped in these networks and which factors impact upon this.
Date:
Thursday 30th January 2014

Blog: Can local government govern in the digital age?

Blog: Can local government govern in the digital age?
Description
Written by Paul Hepburn. The digital age continues to bring policy challenges for local government. From harnessing 'big data' for the public good to developing 'smart' cities the policy expectation is that local authorities will deliver appropriate governance without which, it is argued, urban life in the 21st century is likely to be rendered more complicated, fragmented , unequal and potentially dystopian through ad hoc technological fixes.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Blog: The theft of the open primary: can we pin it on Jeffrey Archer?

Blog: The theft of the open primary: can we pin it on Jeffrey Archer?
Description
Written by Chris Game. It's rather late for a New Year's confession, but I need to get it off my conscience: I confess I read Jeffrey Archer books. I'm advised it only ranks as a venial, rather than mortal, sin, and it's not an addiction; I don't buy hardbacks, or sneak them on to student reading lists.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Blog: Babies, bathwater and baths

Blog: Babies, bathwater and baths
Description
Written by Alan Dolg. It came as no surprise that the incoming Conservative government was quick to abolish the Standards Board for England after its 2010 election victory. Media comments and party policy briefs made it plain that the government had no time for what it perceived to be an over-zealous, heavy-handed and centralised regulator that added little value to local government.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Blog: Health and wellbeing boards: a new type of partnership?

Blog: Health and wellbeing boards: a new type of partnership?
Description
Written by Anna Coleman. A great deal rests on Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs), a new type of local partnership. These were established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to act as a forum in which leaders from the local health and care system could work together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and promote integrated services.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Blog: Crime on the high street goes missing

Blog: Crime on the high street goes missing
Description
Written by Professor John Raine. For almost two decades now the statistics for recorded crime in England and Wales have been falling. And even though there has always been a difference, of some magnitude, between the numbers gathered through the British Crime Survey – a large-scale sample of the public's experiences of crime victimisation - and the (persistently smaller) statistics compiled by the police, there has been broad agreement at least in the downward trend.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

Blog: Local democracy at the sharp end: diary from a Parish Council

Blog: Local democracy at the sharp end: diary from a Parish Council
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. It starts in the autumn of 2013. The Secretary of State knocks back the latest submission of the Core Strategy from the District Council – more homes needed please. Suddenly, the Parish Council becomes inundated with requests for meetings from developers – the story here being that this rural village has the postcode where houses change hands on the market the fastest for miles around, and for the highest possible price.
Date:
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Blog: Reason, myth and migration

Blog: Reason, myth and migration
Description
Written by Phillip Cole. One of the dominant features of public debate about immigration in the United Kingdom is the absence of reason. Many political commentators have begun to notice the reluctance of people to abandon basic myths about immigration, despite the prevalence of evidence that shows those myths to be false.
Date:
Tuesday 21st January 2014

Blog: The English question

Description
Written by Martin Stott. It is worth contemplating the possibility of a scenario in which Scotland votes for independence in September and a new Government holds an 'in/out' referendum on the remainder of the UK's membership of the EU in 2017 – and the vote produces an 'out' result. Whether it is of the social democratic variety espoused by the SNP in Scotland, or the populist nationalism of UKIP in England, nationalism is having a profound effect on British politics.
Date:
Friday 17th January 2014

Blog: Violence in South Sudan illustrates the perils of state building

Blog: Violence in South Sudan illustrates the perils of state building
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson. The Christmas period in the newest nation in the world, South Sudan, has been a violent one. More than 1,000 people are believed to have died (BBC) with more than 120,000 forced to flee ethnic clashes (BBC) in one of the least developed countries in the world. The President of the UN Security Council, Gerard Arnaud, has warned that this could lead to a fully fledged ethnic war in the country and around 7,500 UN peacekeeping troops have deployed to the country. In a country that is awash with guns and with a long history of violence between ethnic groups, populist political rhetoric along ethnic lines is dangerous.
Date:
Wednesday 15th January 2014

Blog: Where have all the politics gone? On wildebeest, lions and other political animals

Blog: Where have all the politics gone? On wildebeest, lions and other political animals
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. "One benefit of spending many days mass catering and washing up over Christmas has been the companionship of Radio 4 news programmes. Sadly, I now feel a bit like those women who decide on divorce just after Christmas. Prolonged exposure to political reporting has left me feeling betrayed and irritated in equal measure."
Date:
Friday 10th January 2014

Blog: What does the Autumn Statement mean for local government?

Blog: What does the Autumn Statement mean for local government?
Description
This December, in contrast to the previous two years of worse than expected news, the Chancellor has revised his growth forecasts upwards and revised his debt forecasts downwards.
Date:
Monday 9th December 2013

Blog: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013

Blog: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918-2013
Description
Heather Marquette, Reader in Development Politics at IDD, and David Hudson, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at UCL, are directors of research for the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP). They reflect on the inspirational achievements of Nelson Mandela – who embodied developmental leadership.
Date:
Friday 6th December 2013

Blog: Electoral reform: STV for local elections and first-time compulsory voting

Blog: Electoral reform: STV for local elections and first-time compulsory voting
Description
Written by Chris Game. Two research-based reports on electoral reform appeared almost simultaneously last week. Great for anoraks, but for a local government blog a dilemma. Only one report directly concerns local government, and here, therefore, it properly leads off. But the second is – how to put this – at least methodologically the more interesting and will receive the greater attention.
Date:
Friday 22nd November 2013

Blog: Making 'climate compatible development' possible in coastal areas

Blog: Making 'climate compatible development' possible in coastal areas
Description
Fiona Nunan is Lecturer in Environment and Development in IDD, specialising in natural resource governance and management in developing country settings, particularly within inland fisheries and coastal locations in East and Southern Africa, and in exploring the links between poverty and the environment.
Date:
Tuesday 19th November 2013

Blog: A reply to Frazer Nelson: the only thing astonishing is how little power local authorities have

Blog: A reply to Frazer Nelson: the only thing astonishing is how little power local authorities have
Description
Written by Catherine Staite. Fraser Nelson's article on Birmingham City Council last Friday was a very disappointing offering from an experienced journalist and a reputable paper – more Daily Mail then Daily Telegraph. It was riddled with inaccuracies.
Date:
Monday 18th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking and working politically in development interventions. Workshop round-up from Jonathan Fisher

IAS Blog: Thinking and working politically in development interventions. Workshop round-up from Jonathan Fisher
Description
Written by Jonathan Fisher. Friday's workshop – and Sam Hickey's keynote which followed it – saw a mammoth amount of discussion, presentation and critical reflection packed in to one day. Podcasts of the 14 – yes 14! – presentations which took place will shortly be available to listen to for those who couldn't attend; keep an eye on #mpolprac for this where you can also follow the discussion courtesy of our live-tweeters from the day.
Date:
Monday 18th November 2013

IAS Blog: Making politics practical

IAS Blog: Making politics practical
Description
Today's blog is – I am afraid – something of a place-holder. As we speak, academics, policy-makers and practitioners from across the globe are meeting at Birmingham University to discuss how to turn 'thinking politically' into 'working politically'.
Date:
Friday 15th November 2013

IAS Blog: From "thinking politically" to "working politically"

IAS Blog: From "thinking politically" to "working politically"
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. Most people involved in the development enterprise, however, are 'doers' as well as 'thinkers' – far more of my students hope to work for donor agencies, NGOs or charities than within university faculties or think tanks. A key challenge for proponents of the 'thinking politically' agenda, therefore, comes with the 'operationalization' of said agenda.
Date:
Thursday 14th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part III

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part III
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. Another way in which 'politics' has often been understood by donor officials has been as a 'problem' – as Laura Routley and David Hulme have recently pointed out (Routley and Hulme 2013: 15-16). The introduction of 'political economy analyses' (see tomorrow's blog) of development programmes and interventions in recent years has – for many donors – simply flagged-up all the obstacles 'politics' poses to the successful implementation of an otherwise well-designed project.
Date:
Wednesday 13th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part I

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part I
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. The 'age of austerity' has not been kind to Western aid agencies and their staff or to those who would defend them. Though Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) has had its budget 'ring-fenced' since 2010 its counterparts elsewhere in Europe have not been so lucky while its equivalent in Australia – AusAID – has disappeared altogether as an independent entity, subsumed into the country's foreign ministry only weeks ago.
Date:
Tuesday 12th November 2013

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part II

IAS Blog: Thinking politically - Part II
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. What, however, do we mean by 'political' in the context of development policy and thinking? Almost absent from development discourse prior to the 2000s – as scholar and practitioner Sue Unsworth points out (2009:883) – the word 'politics' has now become an integral part of development language albeit without ever having been clearly defined. Along with terms like 'ownership', 'agency' and even 'development' itself, 'politics' seems to mean something so intuitive and obvious to all that exploring its actual meaning seems like ivory tower navel-gazing to many policy-makers.
Date:
Tuesday 12th November 2013

Blog: The paradoxical nature of being successful

Blog: The paradoxical nature of being successful
Description
Written by Ian Briggs. The world of social science can be an odd place at times. Much is quite rightly being made of the impact of severe reductions in public spending, but when social scientists look at the levels of satisfaction with public services, many see the general quality of services remaining high.
Date:
Wednesday 6th November 2013

Blog: Delivery of public services and economies of scale: Cooperation as an alternative for small municipalities

Blog: Delivery of public services and economies of scale: Cooperation as an alternative for small municipalities
Description
Written by Germà Bel. The economic crisis has strongly affected many developed countries, and has caused serious tensions in government finances. These constraints are particularly important at the local level, because local governments have limited taxing bases, and fiscal competition is stronger. Policy discussion on local government reform and local cost reductions, as well as increasing efficiency in local service delivery, is widespread.
Date:
Tuesday 5th November 2013

Blog: Want a 50% turnout in a local election? Try Neighbourhood Planning

Blog: Want a 50% turnout in a local election? Try Neighbourhood Planning
Description
Written by Chris Game. Yes, there were other news stories last weekend – Grangemouth, St Jude, Plodgate, Merkel's mobile, Lady Gaga's new album. Still, a more than 50% turnout in something local governmenty surely merited some kind of headline.
Date:
Friday 1st November 2013

Blog: Innovation in social care: it's the how as much as the what

Blog: Innovation in social care: it's the how as much as the what
Description
Written by Catherine Needham. People with personal budgets need to have something to buy. For some people the money will be spent on a personal assistant. But there will be lots of people who don't have a big enough budget to employ someone, or don't want to take on employer responsibilities. For them a more attractive option may be to buy some support from within the community.
Date:
Tuesday 22nd October 2013
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INLOGOV Call for evidence

INLOGOV Call for evidence
Description
Your chance to showcase innovative, outcome focussed and collaborative new ways of working that your District Council is leading on or working in collaboration to deliver.
Date:
16/12/2014

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. Russia's Central Bank has raised its key interest rate from 10.5% to 17% in an emergency move that is designed to halt the ongoing collapse of the rouble, which has accelerated in recent weeks. The dramatic intervention comes after the rouble suffered its worst one-day fall since the August 1998 financial crisis.
Date:
16/12/2014

CREES staff member delivers talk at The National Defence Academy of Latvia

CREES staff member delivers talk at The National Defence Academy of Latvia
Description
Dr Derek Averre of CREES/POLSIS spoke about Europe and the Ukraine crisis at the National Defence Academy of Latvia, Riga, on 03 December 2014.
Date:
15/12/2014

IGS podcast: Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance in the last year of WWII

IGS podcast: Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance in the last year of WWII
Description
Speaker: Randall Hansen (University of Toronto).
Date:
11/12/2014

IDD Guest seminar podcast: From the inside: A development academic's reflections on three years at the World Bank

IDD Guest seminar podcast: From the inside: A development academic's reflections on three years at the World Bank
Description
Speaker: Willy McCourt, Senior Public Sector Specialist, The World Bank.
Date:
11/12/2014