Joe Biden’s narrow election victory in a year in which the US is experiencing high unemployment, a surge in coronavirus cases, and climate-induced threats signals a difficult period ahead. Richard Johnson examines the likely impact of a Republican-majority Senate and a conservative-majority Supreme Court on Biden’s policy agenda, especially in his first 100 days.
Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential election - winning the largest number of votes of any presidential candidate in history - offers a stark lesson to the left on both sides of the Atlantic: that economic credibility is essential to winning and retaining power.
Dominic Cummings’ dramatic departure from 10 Downing Street inevitably stirred great excitement among political pundits and commentators in the Westminster village. It raised fundamental questions about the future character of the Johnson Administration. Among the most significant was whether Cummings’ historic project to fundamentally transform the British state was now over.
What do lockdown-scepticism and Euroscepticism have in common? At first glance, it’s unclear why there should be a link between views on how we should handle the public health emergency posed by Covid-19 and attitudes to Britain leaving the EU.
"Corruption" is not a word that tends to be bandied around in the mainstream of UK politics. And yet it is beginning to seep more and more into British political discourse. While opposition parties attack the Johnson government's "incompetence", other commentators in both the mainstream and social media are increasingly using the term "corruption."
Donald Trump’s pronouncements challenging the 2020 election results have been met with derision by most media commentators. For historians of American politics, Trump’s claims cannot be brushed off so easily – not because they have validity but because wild claims of ‘fraud’ have been used by politicians and judges to overturn legitimate election results at other intervals in US history.
Decoding the Chilean Plebiscite – Dr Javier Sajuria
5 November 2020
The writing of history, like the taking of a photograph, is, by definition, a process of selection.
Can Trump pull off an Electoral College majority once more, even when he is trailing Biden substantially in the popular vote?
When Germany was reunited 30 years ago, the general feeling was of hope. People felt a wind of change breeze through both parts of the country. With reunification, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) became part of the Federal German Republic (FRG) and adopted West Germany’s political, economic and legal institutions.
In the wake of the human and economic devastation wrought by Covid-19 and the ostensibly inept performance of the Johnson administration, a debate is certain to ensue about how effectively Britain is governed. There are many agendas at stake. Among the most important is the impact of blanket centralisation on our system of government, and the prevalence of a ‘Whitehall knows best’ mentality that has undermined our capacity to manage the pandemic.
At last week’s Conservative party conference, Lord Agnew – a British government minister involved in civil service reform – echoed Dominic Cummings’ many attacks on the service for its over-centralisation, mediocrity, risk-averseness, inefficiency, failure to generate workable policy ideas acceptable to ministers, and lack of effectiveness in policy delivery. But he also pointed us to history.
It has been reported that the home secretary, Priti Patel, has been considering sending migrants who arrive in the UK via the English Channel to islands in the Atlantic. While Downing Street later pushed back on the idea of using the far-flung territories of Ascension Island and St Helena as sites of immigration detention, the Financial Times reported that it was nevertheless considering offshore immigration processing sites.
Since World War Two, America has repeatedly reconsolidated itself as the global hegemonic power. It has pulled states under its influence through a mutually beneficial politics of economic growth, and by establishing and playing a vital role in international institutions such as the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Whilst the world and its leaders are occupied with the Covid-19 crisis, and its subsequent economic fallout, another crisis looms in its shadow, that of climate change and a global temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees.
What can historians of Black Lives Matter learn from women’s anti-colonial protest in Nigeria?
The UK lockdown in March saw rises in domestic violence, increased childcare and domestic burdens on women, limits on paid employment and potential career reversals.
Parliament and COVID-19 - Professor Sophie Harman
30 September 2020
If we’re unhappy about the UK going to war without parliamentary scrutiny why are we happy about the UK going to war against a virus without parliamentary scrutiny?
In the midst of the worst pandemic in recent history, sister cities have shown themselves to be resourceful actors, ready to step in when inter-governmental relations come to a standstill.
Liberal, Labour and Conservative governments have all sailed into the Bermuda Triangle of Lords reform, though few have completed the voyage.
The fiasco over A-Level results has only deepened the suffering of a university sector mired in market-driven chaos.
The disaster has roots in a global network of maritime capital and legal chicanery designed to protect businesses at any cost.
A time traveller arriving from July 2019, interested in seeing how politics has moved on, and what progress had been made with Brexit, might be forgiven, at first blush, for thinking nothing at all had changed. ‘Britain close to abandoning hope of Brexit trade deal’, declared the Daily Telegraph this week. Déjà vu all over again.
Boris Johnson’s first year - Professor Tim Bale
23 July 2020
As a classicist, Boris Johnson hardly needs reminding that hubris can lead to nemesis. But hubris must have been hard to avoid. After all, his first six months as Britain’s eighteenth Conservative prime minister were, frankly, little short of miraculous.
When the time comes to write the history of Boris Johnson’s premiership, historians will not be short of material.
What would “taking back control” mean for immigration? That central question would determine how far the government would make its own choices about immigration in Boris Johnson’s first year as prime minister.
COVID-19 and Captivity - Gabriel Lawson
15 July 2020
Gabriel Lawson writes about prisoners-of-war dealing with isolation and its absence.
As progressives in the United States are fond of saying, “The New Deal was a great idea. It is time we tried it”. For its modern critics, the New Deal, as implemented, was not ambitious and transformative enough. A true New Deal would have conceded a lot less to capitalist interests, better protected the environment, and more aggressively addressed racial and gender disparities (rather than exacerbating them).
According to research published this week, it is underlying socio and cultural (as opposed to economic) values that keep the Conservative Party and its electoral coalition together and give it the best chance of connecting with the voters it will need to win again in 2024.
By Professor Norman Fenton, Dr. Magda Osman, Professor Martin Neil, and Dr. Scott McLachlan.
After COVID19 - Lord Peter Hennessy
24 June 2020
Lord Peter Hennessy asks what we might learn from the experience of another hinge moment: 1945, when an exhausted but victorious Britain launched a new social contract.
While Cummings’s vision for reforming government looks even more questionable in the light of the pandemic, it is not sufficient simply to attack ideas of reform, writes Patrick Diamond. He explains what system of government Britain needs in order to be better able to solve problems in the future.
The largest mass migrations in South Asia since the time of partition are taking place in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indians are on the move in every direction from the major urban centres, criss-crossing the nation on their way homeward to towns and villages across the country.
The anti-Brexit movement: failing to Remain (united)
16 June 2020
With the UK in lockdown and Covid-19 still on the rampage, it is easy to lose sight of the looming deadline for Britain and the EU to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Talks between Brussels and London have stalled and no progress on the key issues has been made.
Coronavirus plunged the world into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Many governments are trying to revitalise their economies by gradually lifting lockdown measures, including the UK.
The Mile End Institute is situated within the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Queen Mary University of London. This piece affirms the School’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and provides resources recommended by the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee.
Professor Sophie Harman has contributed to new polling analysis which reveals the pressure on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women during the coronavirus lockdown.
Supporters of populist parties are often portrayed as politically naïve or misinformed, but to what extent does this image reflect reality? Drawing on a new study, Stijn van Kessel, Javier Sajuria and Steven M. Van Hauwaert present evidence that populist party supporters are not less informed than supporters of other parties. However, supporters of right-wing populist parties had a greater tendency to give incorrect answers to political knowledge questions, suggesting there are key differences between the characteristics of left-wing and right-wing populist voters.
By the Establishment, I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised. The exercise of power in the United Kingdom (more specifically, in England) cannot be understood unless it is recognized that it is exercised socially.
Patrick Diamond writes that the Cummings coronavirus row has wider implications for the machinery of British government. These revolve around the status of political advisers and the future of Cummings’s state reform visions.
It Could Happen Here - Professor Sophie Harman
27 May 2020
It couldn’t happen here. A one-off event, at first as big as the 2008 financial crisis, and then equal to if not bigger than the end of the Second World War. Unique in its reach, impact, and cause. Locking down populations, shifting work, school, and childcare patterns, and reorienting whole health, social, political and economic systems to manage a health crisis all seemingly without precedent.
Jewish nationalists defending ‘Christian Europe’ and attacking ‘evil globalism’? For Benjamin Netanyahu and conspiratorial son Yair, the illiberal Islamophobic ethnonationalism of Europe’s radical right is just too enticing.
Leading the opposition is an extraordinarily difficult job. In fact, it’s at least four different jobs at the same time, each of which needs different skills.
It’s an ill wind, they say, that blows nobody any good. And the coronavirus crisis is no exception. It’s too early to tell how – or how much – it will change UK politics in the long term. But we can at least make some educated guesses about the short- to medium-term opportunities and threats it presents to the Conservative government and to its Labour opposition.
Experts from the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London have contributed to new research published today which reveals the stark reality of the coronavirus pandemic for parents and keyworkers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a new problem in our constitutional arrangements. How would we replace a prime minister during a national emergency?
'Expelliarmus, Jeeves!' - Dr Robert Saunders
30 April 2020
If you need a break from Covid-19, here is some light relief.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Harry Potter met Jeeves and Wooster? Or if Aunt Agatha dated Lord Voldemort? Our co-director, Robert Saunders, has the answers, in 'Expelliarmus, Jeeves!'
Patrick Diamond dissects the UK’s response to the COVID-19 crisis so far and how it has been determined by a number of underlying weaknesses within its policy-making systems – among other things, the British Government’s reluctant attitude towards policy learning and borrowing.
Coronavirus: A Policy Melting Pot by Griffin Shiel
8 April 2020
From a cursory glance at the UK Government’s Coronavirus Action Plan, it would be easy to assume that the virus is almost exclusively an issue for the Department of Health and Social Care. It’s safe to say Professor Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer), Dr Jenny Harries (Deputy Chief Medical Officer) and Matt Hancock (Health Secretary) have had more air time than even they could have imagined.
This article was originally published by The Conversation on 31 March 2020.
A comparison of how British and Israeli leaders are handling the Coronavirus crisis.
This article was originally published by The Times of Israel on 31 March 2020.
by John Kenny, Nick Or, Andra Roescu, Will Jennings (University of Southampton) and Peter K. Enns (Cornell University and Roper Center for Public Opinion Research)
At this moment of crisis the UK needs a constructive opposition, not a compliant one.
This article was originally published by NewStatesman on 25 March 2020.
COVID-19 and the Transition Period by Professor Tim Bale
20 March 2020
This article was originally published by the UK in a Changing Europe on 19 March 2020.
Gawain Towler served as Director of Communications for the Brexit Party and was previously Head of Press for UKIP. In a special In Conversation event co-hosted by Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End Institute and The UK in a Changing Europe, he reflected on a 16-year political journey towards Brexit.