by Felicity Matthews, Associate Editor of Policy and Politics
Happy New Year, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to having a quiet and uneventful 2015. Boring, even. Nothing on the horizon other than uninterrupted expanses of nothingness… If only! As if! This is 2015! The year of the general election! The battle to save the NHS! The battle to save party politics as we know it! This is 2015! The 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta! The 750th anniversary of the first English parliament! The 70th anniversary of VE Day!
Quite clearly, 2015 is already lining up to be a year to remember. A year in which democracy is both celebrated and put to the test; a year in which party lines and battle lines are drawn; a year in which identities and alliances are simultaneously dismantled and forged anew. And quite clearly, 2015 is lining up to be a year of unprecedented interest for those of us engaged in the world of politics and public policy, whether we are in the midst of the game or watching excitedly from the touchlines.
To stretch the sporting analogy further, the long campaign for the general election kicked off on Monday and there are still 119 days to go until the final result. Yet, already visceral fights have been held regarding issues such as the state of immigration and the shape of the NHS; and the traditional cleavages left-right politics have re-emerged as the parties seek to distinguish themselves in terms of economic competency, deficit reduction and public sector investment.
And this only takes us up to 7 May 2015. Who knows what will happen next? Opinion polls suggest that an outright win for either of the two main parties is unlikely, but with the SNP and UKIP set to make gains in terms of votes north and south of the border, who will be involved in any future government formation? And what will be path of the next government – minority, single party, coalition – in terms of public sector reform? Indeed, the UK is not alone this year in facing such challenges and dilemmas; and in the national elections being held throughout Europe (including Greece, Portugal and Spain) and beyond (including Egypt, Canada and Argentina) it is likely that the politics of austerity and democratic legitimacy will likewise dominate the agenda.
As the answers to such manifold questions unfold, Policy & Politics will be at the forefront of their analysis. Our first issue of 2015 is imminent, and further issues will follow in April, July and October, with each edition pausing to take stock of the shifting nature of government, administration and policy in this rapidly changing world. In January, for example, Amanda Crompton will consider the meaningfulness of public participation in the policy process through an examination of HS2; and Catherine Durose, Jonathan Justice and Chris Skelcher will reflect on the democratic implications of delegated governance. Later in the year, Danny Dorling will consider the role of the state in delivering health and housing; and Bob Jessop will reflect on whether the state as we know it even has a future. We will also be publishing articles which focus on salient new topics and terrains, including Xiaojun Yan’s analysis of participatory budgeting in rural China and Keerty Nakray’s exploration of gender justice in India. This is to name but a few of the exciting new articles that will be published in 2015!
There will also be opportunities throughout the year to come together as a community of Policy & Politics readers to consider such issues. On 17 March we will be delighted to welcome Lord Anthony Giddens to give our 2015 Policy & Politics Annual Lecture on ‘The Politics of Climate Change’. Lord Giddens’ book The Politics of Climate Change was first published in 2009; and In his lecture Lord Giddens will consider how much progress – if any – has been made over the intervening years in containing global warming, arguably one of the greatest threats to a stable future for humanity. All are welcome to attend, and you can reserve your free ticket at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/anthony-giddens-lecture-on-the-politics-of-climate-change-tickets-9841530282.
Later in the year, on 15-16 September, we will host our Policy and Politics Annual Conference, the theme of which is ‘Democracy, Inequality and Power: Redefining Classic Concepts for the Twenty-First Century.’ Inspired by the anniversary of the Magna Carta, our conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on both the failures and successes of democratic policy and politics in the UK and abroad. We look forward to welcoming our distinguished plenary speakers, who include Professor Danny Dorling (University of Oxford, UK), Professor Andrew Gamble (University of Sheffield, UK), Professor Kate Pickett (University of York, UK) and Professor Mark Purcell (University of Washington, US). We also look forward to welcoming your proposals for panels and papers, and you can find out more about making a submission at http://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/policypolitcs/policyandpolitics2015/callforabstracts.
So much for a quiet and uneventful 2015, huh?
This piece reflects the opinions of the author alone.
Felicity Matthews is Associate Editor of Policy and Politics and Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield.