Nationalisation vs Privatisation (Part 93….)

With the Party conference season behind us the big idea back on the agenda is, apparently, socialism versus free-markets. Stirring speeches about the return to socialism rang out from Labour in Brighton, to be met by counter-blasts of free market rhetoric from the Tories in Manchester. It was all quite nostalgia inducing for some of us – forward to the 1980s! And, of course, thoroughly specious from both camps.

In reality the debate quickly descended from the lofty heights of imaginary alternative social systems – neither socialism nor free markets have ever existed and are ever likely to – to a rather more prosaic debate about nationalization versus privatization as almost as devoid of serious thinking as it was the first time around in the 1980s. Continue reading

It Wasn’t The Cough That Carried Her Off…..

I have been thinking about THAT SPEECH by Theresa May all day today. Why?

Well, on a very personal level, first I have a cough problem. Not a “here today gone tomorrow” cough problem. I’ve had it chronically since 2009 on and off before that. I’m receiving treatment at a specialist and experimental cough clinic. I recently discovered it may go back to an industrial accident I had in 1970!

Be that as it may, I therefore have some sympathy with anyone caught out by an uncontrollable cough in public speaking situations. I have had them. I have had lectures where I’ve collapsed into fits of coughing so alarming the students got worried I was about to expire. I have had to leave meetings. I have had to decline live radio and TV on days when I knew I was at risk.

So, I understand.

Which is why I am totally and utterly dumfounded by the sycophantic drivel being spouted about “poor Theresa”. Continue reading

UNIVERSITY PUBLIC POLICY BLOGS – WHY & HOW?

Cambridge Policy Lab

University-based public policy blog sites are growing in number in the UK. Why?

Partly, this is obviously driven by the so-called “impact” agenda – Universities proving the worth of their research to funding agencies, Government, the media and the public. Impact on public policy is an important part of “impact”.

So why blog sites? A University public policy blogsite offers two huge advantages.

Internally, within a University, it provides a way of quickly sharing policy-related research and developments in an easily digestible format. It is especially useful in developing early-career researchers who can share their work quickly and get feedback from more experienced colleagues outside of the normal, formal, University and academic channels.

Externally, it provides a platform to share – again quickly and accessibly – University public policy research with the wider world and provide ‘sign-posting’ to more in-depth engagement for practitioners and policymakers.

Blogs are essentially a publishing…

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Blogging as academic public policy engagement – a personal journey (Part 1 – 2009-2013)

Cambridge Policy Lab

Almost a decade ago, in 2009, I decided to experiment with blogging as a way of engaging with public policy and management debates.

It wasn’t easy.

I was an academic employed by Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

I said I wanted to start a blog. They said – no you can’t. I asked why? They said, first we don’t know how to and second we don’t want you freelancing and possibly “damaging the brand”.

Let’s back-track a bit to see how I got to this point.

I am not a conventional academic. I left school at 16 with only 5 “O” Levels and went to work as a Lab Tech with what was then ICI Pharmaceuticals research in Alderley Edge.

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Universal Credit: chronicle of a death fortold

This blog post was first published on Nov 11, 2010, in reaction to the Universal Credit ‘White Paper’. It’s normal to say “I hate to say it ….”. I don’t hate to say it – I was right.

Welfare Reform: it’s the implementation, stupid

It has entered popular mythology that in the 1992 US Presidential election Bill Clinton’s adviser James Carville hung a notice over Clinton’s desk that said “it’s the economy, stupid”. (It didn’t quite happen like that, but it’s close enough.) Continue reading

The Soft Brexit Solution Struggling to get out?

There is a majority in Parliament – in both Houses – for some form the ‘soft’ Brexit. The question is, can it get out?

Let’s be clear – the Brexiteers are right about one thing: the majority of MPs stood on manifestos committing us to leaving the EU. But they did not commit themselves to any old Brexit Theresa May and David Davis decide we’ll get. Labour’s manifesto was ambiguous and many individual candidates entered their own local caveats.

The majority in the House of Commons would probably now vote for something like this:

We formally leave the EU in April 2019.

We agree an “interim” deal to remain in the EEA or EFTA (or both) and the customs union pending further negotiations.

Such a deal could satisfy soft Leavers and Remainers. For now. Continue reading

Grenfell: How to investigate what happened

[Republished with permission from politics.co.uk]

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Andrew Blackie was an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) operations inspector from 2007 to 2017. Here he outlines various options for how to investigate what took place at Grenfell.

By Andrew Blackie

There has been a lot of discussion about how the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire should proceed in the wake of the tragedy. Every day that debate becomes more politicised. In order to come to a sound judgement on it, it’s worth taking a look at the various models on offer, so that we can assess them for speed, purpose and independence.

Disaster investigations in the UK depend on what sort of incident it was. Some are done with the intention of prosecution or determining liability, others are purely for learning and others are a hybrid. Continue reading