Archive for July, 2011

Public services without government?

, 28 July 2011

Two weeks ago, David Cameron set out his vision for public service reform in the Open Public Services White Paper. Let’s see how the language of the paper compares to previous white papers from Tony Blair (2006) and Gordon Brown (2008). Such things can be over-interpreted – but they are certainly interesting. Here are...

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What the Olympics can tell us about policy making

, 27 July 2011

Sand fills Horseguards Parade. Stadiums rise over Stratford. And the big clock in Trafalgar Square spells out the message clearly: the Olympics are now just one year away. But the Games are not just of interest to sports fans; they also reveal crucial lessons for government in general. For the organisers, London 2012 represents...

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The Art of Cabinet Minute-taking

, 22 July 2011

In 1986, at the height of the Westland Affair, Michael Heseltine resigned as Secretary of State, walking straight out of the Cabinet to brief the press. The remaining members of the Cabinet were not sure if he was actually resigning or just leaving the room. After this slight issue was resolved, Cabinet was paused...

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Posted in Parliament and the political process | 2 Comments »

Prime Minister’s Questions

, 22 July 2011

Of course, the Prime Minister has always answered questions in Parliament and until the Second World War, he was also often Leader of the Commons. But questions could be on any day when the Commons was sitting, as still happens in the far more rumbustious daily question sessions in the Australian Parliament in Canberra....

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Clegg comes through for the Conservatives on Constitutional Reform

At a joint Constitution Unit/Institute for Government seminar on 11 July I developed three propositions: The Conservatives are just as much a party of constitutional reform as the Lib Dems, but this has never been acknowledged, not least by themselves. Nick Clegg in taking the lead on the whole of the government’s constitutional reform...

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Who is fit and proper?

, 14 July 2011

The headline grabber inevitably centres around the Prime Minister’s judgement. There are however other important issues which this has highlighted. These are about the processes for senior ‘political’ appointments which come within the purview of Prime Ministers but which involve people who work at the heart of government. The current system is pretty opaque....

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Lords Joint Committee

, 13 July 2011

Creating a largely or wholly elected second chamber will be the most long drawn-out and bitterly fought legislation of this parliament. So there has been a widespread welcome for the creation of a Joint Committee of both Houses to consider the draft House of Lords Reform Bill. This is just the type of pre-legislative...

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John Major on the Union and the future of politics

, 12 July 2011

First he in effect called for a “devolution max” offer to be made to Scotland, and then for a straight “in or out” referendum to be held upon it.  By “devolution max”, Major includes full fiscal responsibility and pretty well all law making powers, except in respect of defence and foreign policy. He clearly...

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Wide open public services

, 12 July 2011

If we’ve learnt one thing from the Government’s faltering attempts to radically reform the NHS, it’s that nobody likes surprises. The Coalition failed to fully test its reforms with policymakers and professionals, resulting in public and practitioner resistance that led to the plans being first delayed, then substantially revised. So it must surely be...

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Incrementally revolutionising public services

, 12 July 2011

The quote serves as a reminder that over the last 30 years public service reform has been underpinned by some common, perhaps clichéd themes. Successive governments have repeatedly told us they will make public services more ‘citizen centric’, will ‘open up government’ and provide more ‘choice’ for service users. So is Cameron’s promise  to...

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