Thursday, 2 February 2017

Who should be called to account? Margaret Hodge in debate with Philip Collins and Lucy Barnes

You can hear the podcast of Tony Wright in Discussion with Lucy Barnes and Philip Collins here.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances at Westminster, Margaret Hodge was unable to attend.

In Called to Account, Margaret Hodge reviews her experiences as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee until 2015. She has particularly sharp things to say about tax avoidance by multinational corporations, and about the civil servants who are meant to ensure that taxes are paid by the high and mighty as well as the low and ordinary. In this event she will debate her assessments with Philip Collins of the Times and UCL’s Lucy Barnes, with Tony Wright in the chair. Is it possible to get corporations to pay more tax, or are current practices the inevitable result of Britain’s ‘bargain basement’ approach to competition with other countries for investment and jobs? And are Hodge’s criticisms of senior civil servants fair, given that they may not be supported in taking a tougher line by their political masters?

Chair: Tony Wright was an MP from 1992 to 2010, and played a leading role in the ‘Wright reforms’ to Parliamentary select committees. He is currently a visiting professor at UCL and Birkbeck.


  • Margaret Hodge has been MP for Barking since 1994 and was Chair of the Public Accounts Committee from 2010 to 2015.
  • Lucy Barnes is a lecturer in comparative politics at UCL, specialising in the politics of taxation.
  • Philip Collins is a columnist and chief leader writer for The Times, and chair of the board of trustees at the independent think tank Demos.

This event is jointly organised by the Political Quarterly and the Centre for British Politics and Public Life at Birkbeck.

You can sign up for your free place here.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Rethinking Capitalism

Mariana Mazzucato and Michael Jacobs 
in discussion with 
Will Hutton and Andrew Gamble

Listen to the podcast here!

The Political Quarterly is pleased to announce the launch of the new PQ book Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, edited by Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato. The book brings together leading economists to challenge orthodox ideas about economic theory and policy, and to propose new approaches to achieving a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Subscribers to the Political Quarterly will receive a copy as part of their subscription. For others the book is available at a 20% discount from the publishers Wiley Blackwell.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

“Who Owns A Company?”

The Political Quarterly Annual Lecture given by Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England will be held Monday 5 December, 6.00 - 8.00 pm at the Institute for Government, 2 Carlton Gardens,London, SW1Y 5AA. This will be followed by a drinks reception. You can sign up here.

Who owns a company? This might seem like a simple question with a simple answer. At least for publicly listed companies, its owners are its shareholders. It is they who claim the profits of the company, who exercise control rights over the management of the company and they whose objectives have primacy in the running of the company. Yet despite its durability and success, this corporate model has not gone unquestioned.

In recent years there has been a rising tide of criticism of companies’ behaviour, from excessive executive remuneration, to unethical practices, to monopoly or oligopoly powers, to short-termism. This lecture will explore different governance and incentive structures and discuss the various micro-economic frictions and their macro-economic impact.

Andrew G Haldane is the Chief Economist at the Bank of England. He is also Executive Director, Monetary Analysis, Research and Statistics. He is a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. He also has responsibility for research and statistics across the Bank. Andrew has an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University, is Honorary Professor at University of Nottingham, a Visiting Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, a member of Economic Council of Royal Economic Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Member of Research and Policy Committee at the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA). He is Chairman and co-founder of ‘Pro Bono Economics’, a charity which brokers economists into charitable projects. Andrew has written extensively on domestic and international monetary and financial policy issues and has published over 150 articles and four books. In 2014, TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

'Democracy in Britain: Retrospect and Prospect' by Tony Wright

The Political Quarterly was delighted to host former editor Tony Wright for the Political Quarterly lecture entitled 'Democracy in Britain: Retrospect and Prospect' on Wednesday 12 October, at the Institute for Government. You can see the the video of his discussions with Jean Seaton here.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Anne Joshua

Anne Joshua, who carried out all The Political Quarterly’s typesetting for over 30 years, died on 21 November 2016 in Oxford after suffering from multiple cancers.

Anne started work in the 1970s taking in academic typing, which she could do at home while she brought up her children. Very quickly she noticed that the technology of typesetting and printing was changing. One major advance was the development of new and sophisticated types of electric golf-ball typewriter using single-strike carbon ribbons. These allowed a single operator to produce high-quality output that at its best was almost as good as printers’ type. For the first time it was possible to run a serious home-based typesetting firm, as Anne did - initially with a single machine on her kitchen table.

This simple, adaptable and relatively inexpensive technology, colloquially known as ‘IBM setting’ after the manufacturer of most of the machines, had its most marked effect on academic publishing. It substantially reduced fixed costs and meant that hitherto marginal or uneconomic books and texts with small print runs were now publishable. And it was here, not in the later computer era, that the world of typesetting began to change for good. Anne was part of this movement and very much a pioneer.

She invested in increasingly sophisticated technology, filling the basement of her house with equipment that many established firms would envy. As somebody at the very top of her craft, Anne also exemplified the other major advantage of IBM setting: in the hands of a top operator the availability of multiple typefaces (simply achieved by swapping golf balls in and out while keying at speed, something wonderful to watch in action) made it very suitable for complex work such as maths, Old English and logic.

Anne acquired an enviable reputation for this kind of work. One of us (CC) recalls a day in the 1980s when he had been told by a publisher (not of PQ) that an equation he wanted to use in a chapter was far too complex and difficult for the typesetters and too expensive for the project concerned. He took it over the road to Anne (who lived opposite at the time), and within 20 minutes she had typeset the equation, charging the publishers a tenth of their own estimate.

That can-do approach enabled her to build up Joshua Associates, a flourishing business employing several staff that served the extensive publishing industry based in and around Oxford. After the IBM setting of the previous era drifted into obsolescence she adopted new computer based setting technology, standardising on the 3B2 system. By 1992 Joshua Associates was large enough to move to new premises in Oxford’s Marston Road. Until very recently she was one of the very last British-based typesetting firms competing successfully for such work with the massive industry that has developed in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere in Asia. Her last major project was PQ’s major collection of Bernard Crick’s essays, Defending Politics: Bernard Crick at The Political Quarterly, but she continued running her firm until she was diagnosed with cancer this summer.

Anne provided far more than just a basic setting service. By the mid-1990s the design of PQ was beginning to look rather tired, and along with a change of format this provided an opportunity to redesign both the cover and internal typography. Anne came to the rescue with a new two-column text design in Palatino and an elegant cover using the same typeface, which launched with issue 1 of 1996. In particular, she created the instantly recognisable and deceptively simple PQ logo that still identifies the journal and all its works twenty years later. While cover designs and fashions have come and gone, Anne’s logo and her internal text design remain virtually unchanged.

In her work Anne combined exacting professional standards with deep friendliness. To come to her with work past its deadline was not an occasion to look forward to; but you would leave the meeting joking and laughing. In her personal life she has been unfailingly caring and kind. Anyone coming within her radius with anxieties or problems would be taken under her protective wing and helped unobtrusively to feel better about themselves.

Steve Ball
(Assistant editor, PQ, 2002-16)

Colin Crouch
(Joint editor, PQ, 1985-94; chairman of the editorial board, 1999-2009)

Friday, 23 September 2016

'Democracy in Britain: Retrospect and Prospect' by Tony Wright

The Political Quarterly is delighted to host former editor Tony Wright for the Political Quarterly lecture entitled 'Democracy in Britain: Retrospect and Prospect'on Wednesday 12 October, 6 - 8 pm at the Institute for Government, 2 Carlton Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AA. You can register for this free event here.

Tony Wright was co-editor of Political Quarterly from 1995 until 2015. MP for Cannock Chase from 1992 to 2010, he chaired the Public Administration Select Committee for over a decade and as chair of the Reform of the House of Commons Select Committee introduced the ‘Wright reforms’ that strengthened the role of the Commons. Since his first book on GDH Cole and Socialist Democracy (1979), he has published many books including Socialisms (1986), RH Tawney (1987) and Citizens and Subjects (1994). His most recent books are Doing Politics (2012) and the second edition of the very successful British Politics: A Very Short Introduction (2013). He is currently a Professor at UCL and Birkbeck.