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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Leadership contest – Gladstone, Disraeli and the modern premiership

, 12 December 2013

For William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, often compared (not least in Dick Leonard’s recent joint biography of them), the factors that made them successful during their multiple premierships in the late 19th century were wildly different. Gladstone was a details man, Disraeli a schemer. Gladstone was a workaholic, his large team of aides and...

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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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The blunders of their government: what can we learn from the problems of Obamacare?

, 21 November 2013

President Obama has staked his political reputation on the Affordable Care Act – designed to bring health care to millions of uninsured Americans. He pushed it through Congress on the most acrimonious of split votes, with not a single Republican voting in its favour. Had Romney won last year, Obamacare would have been consigned...

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Outsourcing and the price of political scrutiny

, 20 November 2013

According to one of two reports on public service contracting published by the National Audit Office last week, the ‘big four’ earned £6.6 billion (bn) between them from the UK government and public sector in 2012-13. They received this for running back office functions like IT and facilities but also for frontline services like...

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