Parliament and the political process

Separate space: Lessons from Scotland for the end of coalition

, 3 April 2014

In our new research paper, the Institute for Government discusses lessons Whitehall could learn from Scotland, and the ‘separate space’ system that operated in the final months of the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition up until 2007. Separate space allowed the two coalition parties – and the major opposition parties – to receive civil service support...

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Why the Prime Minister is wrong on pre-election contacts

, 31 March 2014

Of course, Labour and Whitehall will cope – as the Senior Civil Service always do. But the risk is that the preparations for a possible change of government will be less good than they should, or easily could, be. Pre-election contacts are crucial. They are far from foolproof: politicians rarely concentrate on what they...

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Guest blog: In defence of special advisers

, 27 March 2014

That doesn’t mean spads are a popular part of government. Andrew Blick’s excellent history of the position, People Who Live in the Dark, is peppered with the insults levelled at spads over the years, including ‘the sand in the machine’, ‘a huge menace to democracy’ and even ‘the rent boys of politics’. Perhaps such...

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Pre-election policy costings – practical lessons from overseas

, 19 March 2014

Last week Robert Chote, Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told the Treasury Select Committee that allowing the OBR to cost party policies before an election would ‘offer the prospect of improving the quality of policy development for parties… and potentially improve the quality of public debate’. This question was raised in October...

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Clarity about pre-election contact with the Civil Service will lead to better government

, 13 March 2014

Since the first pre-election contacts between Whitehall and the Opposition began 50 years ago ahead of the 1964 election, various conventions and practices have grown up, as discussed in two IfG reports written by Catherine Haddon and myself (Transitions- preparing for changes of government published in November 2009, and Transitions: Lessons Learned – Reflections...

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Ofsted row obscures important facts about public appointments

, 3 February 2014

• The vast majority – around nine in ten – of persons appointed to public bodies declare no party links. • The latest figures from the Commissioner for Public Appointments shows that 3.3 per cent of appointees in 2012-13 declared a Conservative affiliation, compared to 3 per cent for Labour (with the balance favouring...

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Detainee Inquiry – obstacles to finding out what happened

, 19 December 2013

Behind the careful legal language of the Detainee Inquiry report, a picture emerges of inadequate supervision and guidance, generally decent intentions and conduct, and the reluctance for a long time of the intelligence agencies and government to face up to the implications of Britain’s closest ally mistreating and torturing people. The agencies were initially...

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Season’s Greetings

, 4 December 2013

Yes, the Autumn Statement comes but once a year. The Chancellor will deliver this year’s statement tomorrow, a day after his little helper, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, published the government’s latest infrastructure plan. The Autumn Statement is one of the two big financial announcements made to Parliament by the Chancellor. Traditionally, it...

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50 ways to leave a coalition – and how to govern in the final phase

, 28 November 2013

These questions – and more – are the subject of a seminar at the Institute for Government – ‘50 Ways to Leave a Coalition’. In practice, there may not be 50 distinct scenarios, but as our panellists from the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Sweden will illustrate, there are quite a range of potential endgames....

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Never mind lean in – hands up!

, 15 November 2013

The IfG has expressed concern about the low numbers of women in the Cabinet and at the top of the Civil Service. With only 24% of MPs being women, we wanted to find positive examples of success to help inspire others and help government be more effective in his area. We asked the speakers,...

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