Christopher Pollitt RIP

ChristopherMy friend, mentor, critic and collaborator and great scholar Christopher Pollitt has died after a long illness. You will be hugely missed Christopher.

My thoughts go out to Hilkka and the extended family.

Christopher had a wonderfully dry sense of humour. When my wife Carole became pregnant with our son Alex (my first biological offspring), I emailed Christopher with the news. His response was typical: “don’t worry, the first 30 years is the worst”. Continue reading

Local Government Strategies in an Age of Austerity

by Colin R. Talbot and Carole L. Talbot[1] University of Manchester

Originally published in a CIPFA/PMPA pamphlet here (April 2011). Some of the data may be slightly dated, but the thrust of the argument remains valid and even more topical as a fresh round of 10% local government cuts in 2015-16 has been announced.

Local government in England is faced with probably the biggest challenges it has had since at least the end of World War II, if not longer. Not only is it facing front-loaded cuts to its income of an unprecedented scale, but the demand for services, especially for the elderly, continue to rise and in many areas the return of mass unemployment, especially amongst young people, threatens new problems. Continue reading

Visions of Subsidiarity and the Curse of the British Political Tradition

by Martin Smith (York University), Dave Richards and Patrick Diamond (both Manchester University)

There is little doubt that the previous Labour Administration and the current Coalition Government have discernibly different governing projects.  Despite a rhetorical appeal to the contrary, Labour substantially increased both the size and role of the state, developing a new set of interventions in social policy and significantly increased government expenditure.  The Coalition on the other hand has been focussed on reducing the role of the state, decreasing government expenditure and making cuts of over 50,000 in civil service numbers.  Continue reading

Lies, Damned Lies and Government misuse of official statistics: Select Committee Attacks Government

I reproduce here the Press Release issued today by the Public Administration Select Committee – it speaks for itself.

Here is the link to the actual Report: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubadm/77/77.pdf

Continue reading

Lord O’Donnell Suggests …. that someone rather like him should be put in charge of vetting government policy. Seriously?

Lord O’Donnell, former head of the civil service, has put forward some ideas for better scrutiny of proposed government policies. According to a report in Civil Service World:

Among ideas to prevent “bad policies” from being introduced, [O’Donnell] said a new Office of Taxpayer Responsibility (OTR) should assess policies, requiring the government to specify their objectives and explain how success would be measured. Continue reading

Top Twenty Whitehall Watch blog posts

Here’s the top twenty Whitehall Watch blog posts (so far) and the number of views. This doesn’t include numbers for posts that have been republished by Public Finance, Public Servant, LSE Policy and Politics and the Huffington Post. Continue reading