Monthly Archives: October 2012

An analysis of the Conservatives since 1945 provides insight into what drives a political party to change

In his new book on the Conservatives since 1945, and in a public lecture at the LSE this Thursday, Tim Bale explores the reasons how and why parties change. He finds the fear of defeat is often just as important a motivator as defeat itself and that, when it comes to policy, what matters most are leaders. The supposed dominance of one faction […]

The government’s austerity agenda is one of the factors responsible for the poor performance of the UK economy

The question of what role, if any, austerity has played in the performance of the UK economy has come to dominate recent political debate. Simon Wren-Lewis probes the evidence and points out that the theory that fiscal multipliers are (perhaps much) larger than 1 if interest rates are stuck at zero has stood up pretty well.  There has been some recent debate about […]

Late changes to Council Tax Benefit reforms would create considerable complexity

In a recent ministerial statement, the government announced a significant change to its policy to localise Council Tax Benefit (CTB) from next April. Stuart Adam, James Browne and Paul Johnson of the IFS ask why such a significant change has been applied to a policy two years after it was first announced, less than six months before councils will have to implement it and after many […]

Flexibility is central to delivering innovation but it needs to be matched by accountability

Jane Mansour argues that the weaker than expected performance of US charter schools raises important questions about the opening up of public sector provision in the UK. While flexibility is central to delivering innovation, it must be matched by accountability. Removing contracts from organizations which underperform should be seen as a strength of the contract, rather than a weakness of the policy programme.  In the […]

What does it mean for sickness benefit claimants to live in a climate of suspicion?

Drawing on her research into the lives of long-term benefits recipients in North East England, Kayleigh Garthwaite argues that we must pay more attention to the emotional harm caused to claimants by the climate of suspicion in which they now live. The problem lies with the assessment procedure rather than with the recipients themselves.  For the past three years, I have been […]

Without a pause in UK justice reforms there is a risk that enormous damage will be done to the day-to-day functioning of criminal justice in England and Wales

Last week Tim Newburn argued that Cameron’s crime speech was a delicate balancing act between different constituencies within the Tory party. In this post Rob Allen takes further issues with the government’s rhetoric, suggesting that writing what is seemingly an  open cheque for prison expansion is something Cameron may come to regret. British Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a new “tough but […]

When, how, and why our society began to celebrate the heterosexual couple

Heterosexuality is celebrated – in film and television, in pop songs and opera, in literature and on greeting cards – and at the same time it is taken for granted. It is the cultural and sexual norm by default. And yet, as Louis-Georges Tin shows in The Invention of Heterosexual Culture, in pre-modern Europe heterosexuality was perceived as an alternative culture. The practice […]

The Big Society Debate: a blistering critique of the use of big empty ideas by politicians

The contributors to this detailed and concise book collectively raise questions about the novelty of the Big Society agenda, its ideological underpinnings, and challenges it poses for policymakers and practitioners. Peter John praises the book for its valuable historical cases and excellent job it does in bringing to bear evidence and examples that are not often discussed by policy-makers. The Big Society Debate: A […]