All this talk about balancing the budget is …

Remember the Maastricht criteria? No, I didn’t think so. Nor apparently do Britain’s political leaders, based on their manifestos for tackling the UK’s deficit. The Maastricht Criteria were the convergence criteria for European countries that wanted to join the Euro. Agreed in 1992 (including by John Major’s Conservative government) it covered inflation, deficits, debt, exchange […]

The first Manchester Education Debate

Where next for Labour’s schools policy?

With the Labour Party conference in town, Manchester Institute of Education (MIE) invited four leading figures in education to join teachers, academics, teacher educators, parents and others in a public debate on what a future Labour government should do on schools. Prof Ruth Lupton considers some of their key ideas. Panel members were Rt. Hon David […]


Japanese government turns matchmaker to boost birth rate

Japan has announced it is spending millions of pounds on state-sponsored dating events to boost its slumping birth rate. But as Dr Aya Homei argues, this overly simplistic approach is a diversion from the consequences of a fiercely male work culture that makes little allowance for women and their childcare needs. The Telegraph recently reported on […]

Budget 2014

Budget 2014: Smaller and Smaller – the end of ‘Big Government’ in the UK?

George Osborne’s fifth Budget as Chancellor delivered few real surprises or big changes. Many of the detailed adjustments were trailed in advance, and only in the pensions arena did he deliver any radical measures, writes Professor Colin Talbot. It is the pensions issue that will grab the headlines – as he intended. This was a […]


Pickles-Paterson floods spat highlights true top-down nature of UK policymaking

A top-down centralised decision-making process and government functions working in silos are not new features of UK politics, writes Dr Daniel Fitzpatrick. But as communities across the UK experience misery due to flooding, it seems these deeply entrenched pathologies of policymaking are increasingly out of step with the ‘wicked’ issues that society is facing. The […]

Policy Agendas in British Politics

Policy Agendas in British Politics

How do Governments arrive at policy decisions in the United Kingdom? There has been a great deal of commentary on the apparent disconnect between Westminster and voters, with priorities not necessarily shared between the two. This book by Peter John, Anthony Bertelli, Will Jennings and Shaun Bevan, will help illuminate the reader on how these policy agendas are shaped, […]

Lie detector on sex offenders

Tough on crime? Lie-detector tests don’t hold all the answers for sex offender management

The Coalition has decided to drop the privatisation of polygraph, or ‘lie-detector’ tests for sex offenders. But Dr Andrew Balmer believes that the continued use of this flawed technology within the probation service is misguided and the whole programme should be scrapped. Since the Offender Management Act was changed in 2007 to allow for the […]

electronic cigarette

Do we need a ‘new settlement’ with Europe – or just a better sausage factory?

In seeking a ‘new settlement’ with the European Union (EU), the UK government is ignoring the existing rules and procedures that should already govern law making, argues Clive Bates. Here he focuses on a current example, the regulation of e-cigarettes, highlights the broader faults in the current process and offers some solutions. Otto Von Bismark […]


The Blunders of our Governments

The Blunders of our Governments, Anthony King and Ivor Crewe.  Oneworld Publications, September 2013. This is a must read book for anyone interested in British public affairs, writes Prof Colin Talbot. It is seminal, not so much for the insight it offers – much of what it says has been said before – but in the […]

woman smoking an electronic cigarette

Electronic cigarettes: public health problem or potential solution?

The use of electronic cigarettes in the UK continues to grow, posing complex challenges for regulators and public health policymakers alike. Current debates represent a struggle over whether e-cigs will ultimately be viewed as a trusted medicine, an everyday consumer product or a problematic recreational drug, writes Dr Catriona Rooke. In June the UK medicines […]