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Mile End Institute

MEI Blog

Meet QMUL's Election Experts
24 May 2024

Between now and the General Election on Thursday 4 July, experts from Queen Mary will be commenting on the twists and turns of the campaign, analysing the main parties' manifestos and exploring the key political and policy questions facing the next government.

Meet QMUL's Election Experts
24 May 2024

Between now and the General Election on Thursday 4 July, experts from Queen Mary will be commenting on the twists and turns of the campaign, analysing the main parties' manifestos and exploring the key political and policy questions facing the next government.

'Turning the intellectual page on New Labour': Rachel Reeves' Mais Lecture
26 April 2024

In his final blog as Director of the Mile End Institute, Patrick Diamond reflects on the Mais Lecture that Rachel Reeves gave last month and explores what it tells us how Keir Starmer and Reeves will seek to forge a new political and economic settlement for the 2030s if the Labour Party wins the forthcoming general election.

Recall: A meaningful legacy, and a helpful guide
26 March 2024

On this day in 2015, the Recall of MPs Act received Royal Assent. In this blog, Matthew Hanney reflects on his work on the Bill during his time advising Sir Nick Clegg and what those in favour of electoral reform today can learn from Recall. 

The Asquithian Traits of the Next (Likely) Prime Minister
22 March 2024

As it becomes clear the Labour Party is on course to win the next general election, the question that think tanks, journalists, and the public are increasingly asking is: who is Keir Starmer? More specifically, as Sanjit Nagi explores, what can we expect from him as Prime Minister of the first Labour government in fourteen years?

'Coherent, characterful and often compelling': Ben Riley-Smith's The Right to Rule
14 March 2024

In his latest piece for the MEI Blog, Jay Jackson reviews Ben Riley-Smith's anthropological account of Conservative government since 2010 and concludes that it is a coherent, characterful, and often compelling accompaniment to studies of policy and process. 

How a handful of Tory activists prevented a change in the Conservative Party's leadership rules
23 February 2024

With the next general election fast approaching, Lee David Evans looks back to the aftermath of the 2005 election when the outgoing Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard, attempted to fundamentally reform his party's internal democracy. 

Starmer's Lessons from the First Labour Government
26 January 2024

In the week of the centenary of the formation of the first Labour government, Richard Johnson assesses the 1924 government's achievements and the 'eerily common challenges' that Keir Starmer shares with Ramsay MacDonald. 

Plus ça Change, Plus c’est la Même Chose in the DR-Congo
19 January 2024

After the DR-Congo went to the polls last month, Reuben Loffman explores what this controversial presidential election tells us about the Congolese electoral system and what we might expect from Félix Tshisekedi’s second term in office. 

What is Labour for? Looking ahead to the 2024 general election
15 January 2024

In his first piece of 2024, Patrick Diamond looks ahead to the next general election and, reflecting on two new important books on Labour's history, asks what the party is for and whether has the will and policies to bring about ‘a new age of hope'.

The Gray Revolution: 'Bombproofing' Sir Keir
21 December 2023

In our final entry for 2023, Max Stafford considers the impact that the former civil servant Sue Gray has had on the Labour Party and its preparations for government since becoming Sir Keir Starmer's Chief of Staff in September. 

'It is no good thinking there is no life left if one is not elected Pope': Rab Butler's failure to become Prime Minister in October 1963
3 November 2023

In the third part of his series on the Conservative Party's leadership 'selection' sixty years ago, Lee David Evans revisits the fall-out from Harold Macmillan's resignation and why his de facto deputy, Rab Butler, failed to reach the zenith of British politics.

The Tamworth by-election: A barometer for post-Brexit Britain and where the modern Conservative Party will be laid to rest?
18 October 2023

Ahead of tomorrow's Tamworth by-election, Jay Jackson looks back to Robert Peel's infamous 'Tamworth Manifesto' in December 1834 and asks where the Conservative Party's defining 'prudent adjustment' will take it next.

'Back to Basics': 30 years on
14 October 2023

30 years after John Major gave his infamous call to go 'Back to Basics' at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, Tom Chidwick revisits his speech and considers the similarities between Major's campaign for 'commonsense and competence' and Rishi Sunak's desire to make 'Long Term Decisions for a Brighter Future'. 

Consolidators versus Transformers: The New Dividing Line in Labour's Politics?
12 October 2023

Following the launch of our new pamphlet at the Labour Party's conference in Liverpool this week, Patrick Diamond reflects on Labour's image, its internal strategic disagreements, and how transformational the Party's programme for the next election will be.  

Our New Pamphlet: Governing in Hard Times
6 October 2023

Ahead of this year's Labour Party conference, which starts in Liverpool on Sunday, the Mile End Institute is publishing its new pamphlet on the urgent questions facing Labour and the wider centre-left. 

Drama at Party Conference (Blackpool, 1963)
4 October 2023

As this year's Conservative Party conference draws to a close, Lee David Evans looks back to the dramatic conclusion to one of its most consequential conferences - sixty years ago. 

How has the UK's agricultural policy changed since Brexit?
26 September 2023

In the next in a series of pieces from the European Journal of Public Policy's recent special edition on British Policymaking After BrexitWyn Grant and Alan Greer consider the extent to which the UK has developed a distinct agricultural policy since Brexit, after years of British politicians criticising the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. 

Why 'taking back control' of environmental policy is easier said than done
25 September 2023

In the next in a series of pieces from the European Journal of Public Policy's recent special edition on British Policymaking After BrexitViviane Gravey and Andy Jordan explore why 'de-Europeanising' Britain's environmental policy presents such a challenge and consider how the devolved administrations' approach has differed from that of the UK Government. 

How Brexit became an exercise in 'muddling through'
18 September 2023

In the first in a series of pieces from a recent special edition of the European Journal of Public Policy, Patrick Diamond considers how the British state's response to Brexit became an exercise in 'muddling through' and argues that our governing structures and processes are increasingly coming under strain.

Labour's cautiousness just won't cut it when it comes to 'Levelling Up'
7 September 2023

Lisa Nandy's replacement by Angela Rayner as Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities signals more caution from Keir Starmer's office. In this blog, Jack Newman and Dave Richards argue that 'Levelling Up' is an area where caution is potentially damaging, and real ambition is needed to deliver much-needed economic growth across England and the UK as a whole. 

Harold Macmillan's Controversial Resignation Honours
1 August 2023

In his first contribution to the MEI Blog, Lee David Evans explores the controversial resignation honours list that dogged a Conservative Prime Minister's last days in office - sixty years ago. 

Major Clean Bowled: the Maastricht Confidence Motion 30 Years On
24 July 2023

30 years ago today, John Major's government was trapped in a pincer movement orchestrated by Conservative rebels and the Labour Party's frontbench. David Ward explores how the Prime Minister decided to table a motion of confidence in his own government, the part that John Smith played in this dramatic episode in parliamentary history, and how it revealed the near ungovernable state of the Conservative Party.

Governing in Hard Times: Overcoming the obstacles to a Labour government
23 June 2023

Following our conference on the urgent political and policy questions facing the centre-left ahead of the next general election, Patrick Diamond considers the obstacles facing the Labour Party and how they might formulate viable political strategies to overcome them.

Urgent Questions for the British Centre-Left
12 June 2023

Ahead of our conference on the centre-left this Thursday, Colm Murphy maps out the formidable challenges that the Labour Party - and its potential governing partners - must overcome to prevail in the next election and successfully govern a divided country in a disorderly world. 

'Talent in high places': A prime ministerial friendship
10 June 2023

To mark the thirty-forth anniversary of the former Conservative Prime Minister's appearance on Channel 4's After Dark programme, Tom Chidwick chronicles Sir Edward Heath's friendship with the actor and UNICEF ambassador, Peter Ustinov.

Creating an Inclusive Education System for all
30 May 2023

Following a collaborative event, held in conjunction with the Disability Policy Centre last week, Lyndsey Jenkins considers how the voices and rights of disabled people can be put at the heart of the education system in England and the rest of the UK. 

Why do citizens petition Downing Street?
25 May 2023

Citizens have been petitioning Downing Street for well over a century. In this blog, Henry Miller explains why delivering petitions to Number 10 has been a popular campaign tactic - even though the prime minister rarely responds - and why, despite the rise of e-petitions and digital democracy, petitioners still knock on the famous black door. 

What does Dominic Raab's resignation tell us about the current state of Minister-Civil Servant relations?
22 April 2023

In the wake of Dominic Raab's resignation as Deputy Prime Minister after two claims that he bullied civil servants were upheld by an independent investigation, Patrick Diamond and Dave Richards consider what this saga can teach us about current relations between ministers and civil servants.

The Failure of Remain: the remarkable mobilisation and limited efficacy of the anti-Brexit movement
30 March 2023

Following the referendum in June 2016, there was a mass mobilisation of anti-Brexit activism across all parts of the UK. Based on their recently published book, The Failure of Remain, Stijn van Kessel and Adam Fagan examine this movement and the 'politicisation of Europe' by a grassroots social movement. 

Rebuilding the 'governing marriage' between Ministers and the Civil Service
17 March 2023

Following Moazzam Malik's revelatory article in The Guardian about the deteriorating relationship between Ministers and Civil Servants, Patrick Diamond reflects on the rise of political appointees in Whitehall and assesses how reforming the machinery of government can repair the 'governing marriage'. 

Budgets: The Local and the National
14 March 2023

Ahead of tomorrow's Spring Budget, Greg Stride from the Local Government Information Unit explores the state of local government funding, arguing that there is little evidence that Jeremy Hunt will make significant changes in England. 

The Return of Sue Gray
3 March 2023

After news broke yesterday that Sue Gray, the author of the 'Partygate' inquiry, has been appointed as Keir Starmer's new Chief of Staff, Max Stafford considers what Gray will bring to the Opposition, ACOBA, and Labour's transition to government.

Mission: Possible. Keir Starmer is preparing for Government
2 March 2023

After Keir Starmer unveiled his '5 Missions' last week, Wes Ball and Alan Wager consider the transition from opposition to government, the dangers of 'unforeseen policy gaps', and how to translate 'campaigning poetry' into 'Whitehall prose'.

'Return Taverne': 50 years on from the Lincoln by-election
1 March 2023

Fifty years ago today, Dick Taverne, the former Labour MP, won the Lincoln by-election for 'Democratic Labour'. In this blog, Tom Chidwick explores Taverne's 'local difficulties' and the consequences of one of the most significant by-elections of the last century.  

Showing Ambition: The challenge for Keir Starmer
24 February 2023

Keir Starmer has some big choices to make about the government he wants to lead. Karl Pike argues that whatever he decides, the Labour leader cannot afford to be unambitious. 

'The formidable and lasting power of multilateral partnerships': Ernest Bevin's continued relevance in 2023
6 February 2023

Despite rationing and hardship at home, working-class voters in postwar Britain understood the need to provide aid to Europe and beyond. Ryan Henson and Alice Palmer argue that Ernest Bevin, more than any other politician, was the reason why. 

Breaking the Glass Chamber: The Role of the Local in Shaping Women's Political Activism
3 February 2023

With just over a month to go until International Women's Day 2023, Micaela Panes reflects on last September's Breaking the Glass Chamber conference and highlights the important of 'the local' in women's political history. 

Labour's Commission on the UK's future: towards a 'new politics'?
24 January 2023

Following the publication of Labour's Commission on the UK's Future in December 2022, David Richards and Patrick Diamond reflect on the Report's recommendations, the need to tackle the UK's weak productivity and anaemic growth, and how Labour can maintain the momentum for constitutional reform. 

David Cameron's Bloomberg speech: 10 years on
20 January 2023

To mark the tenth anniversary of David Cameron's Bloomberg speech, Dr Karl Pike considers the 'pressures' Cameron faced, the consequences of his commitment to hold an In-Out referendum, and the importance of good judgement in government. 

A unique opportunity? How Keir Starmer can change the conversation on drugs
11 January 2023

Jay Jackson argues that Keir Starmer has a unique opportunity to seize the drug policy reform agenda and concludes that, as a former Director of Public Prosecutions, the Labour leader has the experience and credibility to bring the public with him. 

Brentry at 50: How postwar Britain joined the European Community and the implications for today
9 January 2023

Three years on from the 2019 Brexit election, debate over the UK's relationship with the European Union may have abated but shows no signs of disappearing. To mark the recent anniversary of the EU's 'first enlargement' (when Denmark, Ireland, and the UK all became members), Dr Daniel Furby revisits the circumstances that enabled post-war Britain to join the European Community and considers the prospects for re-accession. 

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