Archive | October, 2012

Europe: the gift that keeps on giving misery to Conservative whips

            With delicious timing, tomorrow’s House of Commons vote on Europe comes almost 20 years to the day since the Conservative whips were in deep panic about one of the key votes held on the Maastricht Bill.  The ‘paving motion’ vote – the vote to re-start the Maastricht bill’s progress […]

Read More

Cézanne’s truth

                  A confession: I have spent five years writing a life of the painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). Another confession: it is another damn’d thick, square book, 500 pages long, though weary readers will have the consolation of forty pages of colour plates, the ringing endorsement of Julian […]

Read More

Globalisation and the threat to democratic legitimacy

          Globalisation challenges national governments on many fronts, as illustrated so clearly by the fallout from the banking crisis of 2008-9. Perhaps the most important threat posed by globalisation is to the very legitimacy of those governments, and their authority to act on behalf of their populations. This problem is clearest […]

Read More

Do Government Chief Whips have an afterlife?

Sir David Butler is one of Britain’s most respected and experienced political analysts. In this Guest Post he discusses what happens to Chief Whips when they leave their job.  The Government Chief Whip is little known to the British public – Andrew Mitchell’s ill-fated moment in the spotlight being one of the exceptions – but […]

Read More

Reading Gramsci

                In my book Unravelling Gramsci (2007) I argued against a mechanical application of the thought and practice of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. Instead, I developed an interpretative method that drew from Gramsci’s recommendation to grasp the leitmotiv or rhythm of thought of a thinker in relation to practical […]

Read More

Parties and their pasts

          How do political parties cope with electoral defeat? How do they reconcile competing interpretations of their pasts? What happens when their visions of the future collapse? My latest book, History, Heritage and Tradition in Contemporary British Politics explores these questions by viewing political parties as both tightly-knit communities with strong […]

Read More

The new Chief Whip’s first rebellions

        Our project monitoring the behaviour of MPs makes it six Tory backbench rebellions out of the first 25 divisions since Andrew Mithcell, the new Government Chief Whip, began in post at Westminster.  That is a roughly rate of one rebellion in every four votes, which is a lower rate than seen […]

Read More

Who benefits from a Lib Dem collapse?

The Liberal Democrats have now been flatlining at or just below 10% of the vote for nearly two years. The decision to join the Conservatives in a Coalition government looks more electorally toxic with each passing month. It is thus no surprise that bloggers and strategists for both major parties have begun to speculate about […]

Read More

Promoting good governance: another EU success story in the making?

          For well over a decade the European Union has promoted Good Governance in the Western Balkans as part of its promise to eventually extend membership to states in the region. The quality of governance is essential for any nation’s economic development and democratic consolidation, arguably reducing public sector corruption and […]

Read More

Votes at 16: no solution to anything

            The campaign to lower the age at which an individual can vote in the UK – from its current 18, to 16 – has been given a fresh boost by the Government’s willingness to concede giving 16 year olds the vote in the Scottish independence referendum in return for the Scottish […]

Read More