One of the hallmarks of the Policy & Politics journal, which has been consistent across its 49 years of publishing, has been to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom and not take things at face value in developing our understanding of policymaking. Across diverse locations and contexts and employing a range of different methods, the journal is known for showcasing incisive analyses of the policy world which foreground the politics that underpin policy making. The three articles chosen for this quarter’s highlights are no exception as each, in different ways, push the boundaries presenting results that often challenge the prevailing view in their fields. Continue reading →
My recent article in Policy & Politics, The politics of intersectional practice: Competing concepts of intersectionality, shares findings from the first empirical study internationally to explore how both practitioners and policymakers themselves understand how to operationalise ‘intersectionality’. I found that there are five contradictory uses of ‘intersectionality’, some of which further equality for intersectionally marginalised communities, while others actually deepen inequalities (Table 1). In this post I share key recommendations arising for both policy and ‘practice’ (the work of third sector practitioners – delivering services, community development and policy advocacy). These findings also hold relevance for public sector practitioners and grassroots organisations. Continue reading →
Over the festive period, spare a thought for the 1% lowest earners in the UK. Read on if you care…
The Conservatives won a narrow majority in May 2015. The result shocked a London based commentariat. This was hardly surprising as the Capital swung to Labour and London remains where life’s winners congregate, a place from where losers must be expelled. It was life’s losers who did not turn out to vote for the main alternative on offer, a watered-down version of Conservative austerity being sold to them by Ed Miliband. We were then told that the Labour Party did not appeal enough to those who were aspirational and wanted more, including people who wanted more largely irrespective of who had to have less. But perhaps fear and fantasy greatly appealed too, an eighth of the English electorate voted for the UK Independence party (UKIP).
In Scotland all but three of the constituencies fell to the Scottish National Party (SNP) which now represented as wide a cross-section of society as it is possible to imagine. The former Royal Bank of Scotland oil economist, Alex Salmond became Continue reading →
George Osborne always plays the role of the smiling conjurer who pulls the rabbit out of the hat and steals the scene with aplomb. In his 2015 spending review and autumn statement, the surprise announcement was that cuts to tax credit will not be as stringent as expected – although housing benefit claimers are the losers. Concealed within the chancellor’s hat are cuts of more than 50% in grants to local government and tense optimism about the growth, employment and pay forecasts on which everything depends.
The chart below gives the main winners and losers in the spending review over the period up to 2019-20. Cuts are legion. The winners are the big players – the NHS and pensions – both accounting for about a fifth of total spending – which receive real increases of 3 to 4%.
The Cabinet Office is currently undertaking a review of the role and remit of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which is being conducted by Sir Gerry Grimstone. As part of this review, in September I presented to the Committee on Standards in Public Life the findings of research conducted by Matthew Flinders and me regarding the UK’s experience of public appointments.
Nonetheless, whilst the capacity of ministers to intervene in public appointments has been reigned in, the involvement of parliamentarians has expanded through the introduction of pre-appointment scrutiny in 2007; and the relationship Continue reading →
Since first posting it appears that the gap between the yes and no votes is narrowing, suggesting that a yes vote may not be so unlikely after all. Whether this means that Scottish citizens are now tending towards voting with their hearts rather than their heads is another matter. In any case, if you would like to comment, please do so below.
Is the UK really in danger of dis-uniting? The answer is ‘no’. But the more interesting answer is that the independence referendum is, to some extent, a red herring. The nationalists may well ‘lose’ the referendum but they have already ‘won’ the bigger political battle over power and money. All the main political parties in the UK have agreed give Scotland more powers and more financial competencies – or what is called ‘devo-max’ irrespective of what happens on 18 September. Continue reading →
The UK private security industry has been playing an interesting and tricky hand of late. On one side, the Coalition government has presented it with huge opportunities for growth by simultaneously slashing police budgets and promoting outsourcing. On the other side, it has been prevented from taking full advantage of these opportunities because of its rather shady reputation – a problem intensified by recent high profile scandals, from the 2012 Olympics security debacle to overcharging the Home Office on electronic tagging contacts.
One central way in which the industry has been playing this hand has been to throw down the regulation card. The industry has been using statutory regulation to cover itself in the reassuring images and symbols of the state, thereby cleaning up its shady image to a certain degree and putting itself in the position of being able to take full advantage of any opportunities coming its way.
In this article, we call this ‘normative legitimation’: the process through which the private security industry seeks to legitimate its activities to sceptical citizen-consumers by appealing to the state-centric norms which permeate the domestic security sector. We argue that this process creates an unusual and interesting regulatory politics. The more the state introduces regulation to protect the public from the industry, the more the state (consciously and unconsciously) legitimates the industry and allows it to come into further contact with the public.
After a brief tour through the history of liberal discourse and politics (where security becomes connected to the state), the article turns to the paradox of security regulation in postwar Britain. This article (we hope) will appeal to anyone interested in how the private security industry is positioning itself within today’s rapidly changing security landscape.