Recent blog posts from around the School

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

Blog: Planning and the new (new) localism - what chance of success?

Blog: Planning and the new (new) localism - what chance of success?
Description
Written by Nancy Holman. Planning in a time of austerity is never easy – budgets are cut, needs are great and regulation can be seen as stifling growth. In England we are in just such a position and in the midst of a reformulation of planning that is on the one hand meant to deliver growth and on the other designed to empower communities. Most of these reforms are being couched in the language of localism with community participation at the forefront of policy.
Date:
Monday 21st October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: …and in conclusion

IAS Saving Humans Blog: …and in conclusion
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Over the course of this week I have looked at some detail at the Nobel Peace Prize. I have argued that the prize committee does not always simply passively award the prize to obvious persons after their good deeds are done; for example, to the likes of Mr Mandela or Mr Gorbachev after apartheid or after the end of the Cold War. Instead I have argued that the actions of the committee can be understood as agenda-setting and deeply political.
Date:
Monday 21st October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: The biggest losers and the biggest winners

IAS Saving Humans Blog: The biggest losers and the biggest winners
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Today I want to look at those individuals who have missed out on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Most prominently mentioned in this context is Mahatma Gandhi, whose non-violent struggle against British rule in India is practically synonymous with peaceful change.
Date:
Thursday 17th October 2013

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Nobel Peace Prize. Agenda-setting continued

IAS Saving Humans Blog: Nobel Peace Prize. Agenda-setting continued
Description
Written by Dr Rita Floyd. Having working in the area of environmental security studies for the past ten years I am all too familiar with the linkage between war and/or insecurity and climate change/large scale environmental degradation. Yet at the time of the award I remember reading many editorials asking what the linkage between peace and climate change is, and whether the IPCC was the right choice.
Date:
Wednesday 16th October 2013
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Departmental news

Four years after West bombed Gaddafi, chaos rules in Libya

Four years after West bombed Gaddafi, chaos rules in Libya
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson. The rapid escalation this year in the numbers of people drowned as they flee in leaky boats across the Mediterranean is a direct consequence of the conflict in Iraq, Syria and north Africa, specifically Libya – where the implications of the Western intervention are playing out in the deaths of thousands, whether from the violence itself or as they try desperately to escape to safety.
Date:
21/04/2015

Why the British election should be more like a student ballot

Why the British election should be more like a student ballot
Description
Written by Chris Game, Honorary Senior Lecturer, INLOGOV. Wednesday April 15 is Democracy Day. It's the start of the final coordinated push before the 2015 voter registration deadline on April 20. It was organised, like February's National Voter Registration Day, by Bite the Ballot, a not-for-profit community movement that aims to encourage young people in particular to reject Russell Brand's baleful "stop voting" gospel and make their votes count.
Date:
20/04/2015

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Research and risk-aversion in conflict-affected societies

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Research and risk-aversion in conflict-affected societies
Description
Speaker: Dr Suda Perera, Developmental Leadership Program. This seminar discusses the political and physical constraints affecting research within conflict-affected environments, and the growing trend towards remotely gathered data, through an autoethnography of research on armed group dynamics in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Date:
20/04/2015

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Policy integration and synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation in forest and agriculture

IDD Guest seminar podcast: Policy integration and synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation in forest and agriculture
Description
Speaker: Dr Monica Di Gregorio, University of Leeds. This study assesses the level of policy integration of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the forestry and agricultural sectors in Brazil and Indonesia, and explores barriers and opportunities to address trade-offs and achieve mutual benefits.
Date:
14/04/2015

Hillary Clinton announces presidential campaign: expert reaction

Hillary Clinton announces presidential campaign: expert reaction
Description
Written by Inderjeet Parmar, City University London; Clodagh Harrington, De Montfort University; Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham; Russell Bentley, University of Southampton; Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham, and Tom Packer, University of Oxford. The worst-kept secret in American politics is finally out in the open. What now?
Date:
13/04/2015