Monday, 9 November 2015

Citizens, customers, politicians, professionals and money men

The Political Quarterly Annual Lecture given by Colin Crouch on 19 January 2016 at the Institute for Government.

Two disturbing stories in late 2015 - the Volkswagen emissions testing scandal and the news that some NHS trusts had been giving general practitioners financial incentives not to send patients to hospitals for tests - seemed to come from quite different parts of the human capacity for wickedness. But both are products of the same neoliberal insistence that financial knowledge should trump all other kinds.

When there is a conflict between the dictates of financial data and those produced by their substantive professional responsibilities, what should the technician who works for a profit-maximizing firm, or for a public service organization required to meet targets that are their analogue of profit, do? And how should we the public deal with the flood of data produced in such a context? We usually do not understand the science that lies behind these numbers, but that is not a problem if we can trust the experts who produce the data. But can we, when strong incentives displace their professional judgement?

You can reserve your free place here

Monday, 2 November 2015

Progressive Dilemmas: A Political Quarterly and Policy Network Symposium

The success of the right in the 2015 UK General Election and the subsequent realignment of the UK Labour Party underline the need for a period of profound reflection on the purpose and electoral offer of progressive politics in the 21st century.
This event will offer a key platform for political and academic reflection on the challenges a centre-left politics faces in Britain. Topics and areas covered will include: changing values, societal trends and political fragmentation; territorial diversities and changing electoral geography; what it means to be ‘progressive’ in a 21st century open, global world; and prospects for new political alliances and realignments. For a full speakers' list and to read more about the symposium see here.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Rotation in Government - a Discussion

Although once a classic democratic ideal, rotation in office is nowadays seen more as a natural consequence of competitive elections than a goal in its own right. The Political Quarterly has published a small collection with the lead article by Bob Goodin and Chiara Lepora, proposing that a strict rota, with each group taking a turn in office, might be preferable to ordinary electoral democracy in certain sorts of countries: nascent democracies, divided societies with persistent minorities and failed one-party democracies. Ways are suggested of combining intraparty democracy with interparty rotation.

You can read this article here, with four responses from Alan Ware, Peter Stone, Ben Saunders and Jason Edwards along with the response to the critics from Goodin and Lepora here. This collection is free for September.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Issue 86 3 out now!

In this quarter’s issue, you can read an article written by Robert Goodin and Chiara Lepora entitled “Guaranteed Rotation in Office: a ‘New’ Model of Democracy” and four responses from Alan Ware, Jason Edwards, Ben Saunders and Peter Stone. You will be able to read Goodin and Lepora’s response to those pieces in issue 86 4.

We also have articles on voter engagement and electoral inequality from Sarah Birch and Guy Lodge; press regulation by John Lloyd; the Committee on Standards in Public Life by Paul Bew; the growing power and autonomy of House of Commons Select Committees by Lucy Fisher; reports and surveys from Prem Sikka (tax avoidance) and Greg Power (parliamentary strengthening) as well as our book reviews. You can find the articles and reviews here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Leonard Woolf at the Political Quarterly

On the anniversary of the birth of Leonard Woolf on 25 November 1880, the Political Quarterly has made available for free twelve of his most famous essays written during his long association with the journal.

As co-founder of the Political Quarterly with William Robson in 1930, his aims for the journal were made apparent in a 1927 circular in which it was stated:

"The function of The Political Quarterly will be to discuss social and political questions from a progressive point of view. It will act as a clearing-house of ideas and a medium of constructive thought. It will not be tied to any party and will publish contributions from persons of various political affiliations. It will be a journal of opinion, not of propaganda. But it has been planned by a group of writers who hold certain general political ideas in common and it will not be a mere collection of unrelated articles..."

The areas Woolf wrote about were varied and cogent, and in this collection, we hope we have paid tribute to his work by including articles on the future of broadcasting, Labour’s foreign policy, the League of Nations and the United Nations, the personality of Hitler, music in the eastern bloc and espionage, security and liberty to name just a few topics.

You can access these twelve articles here and we would be happy for you to share this wealth of archive material to new generations who may not know his work.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Bernard Crick Prize for Best Piece 2014

The Political Quarterly is delighted to announce Alan Finlayson worthy winner of the Bernard Crick Prize for Best Piece 2014 with his article 'Proving, Pleasing and Persuading? Rhetoric in Contemporary British Politics' (85, 4: 428-36).

The criteria from the judges were as followed:

  • The Orwell test: Was the article written in good, clear English?
  • The scholarship test: Was its knowledge base sound and well grounded?
  • The Alzheimer test: Could I remember its contents clearly several days after reading it?
  • The durability test: Is it likely to be read some years later, or was it just good current comment?
  • The originality test: Did it have something distinctly new to say?

Finlayson’s article ‘Proving, Pleasing and Persuading? Rhetoric in Contemporary British Politics’ (85, 4: 428-36) just had something special. From a highly classical starting point – Cicero’s ideas on the use of rhetoric – and two speeches by Conservative prime ministers – Balfour in 1903 and Cameron in 2013 – he constructed an extraordinary critique of contemporary British public life. At the heart of it was a discussion around the observation:

The greatest difference between contemporary British political culture and the presuppositions of a rhetorical polity is the absence from the former of a strong sense of the ‘common’ – of a people that could and should meaningfully and purposefully govern and judge itself….. [This] is the outcome of an intellectual and principled objection, on the part of our political elite, on ethical as well as empirical grounds, to a politics based on the common good. (page 434)

You can read the article free here  

Call for proposals for special issues of Political Quarterly

Political Quarterly is pleased to invite proposals for special issues and special sections in 2016-17. Proposals should include a 2-3 page outline of the theme, its rationale and scope. PQ aims to publish articles on issues of politics and public policy that are authoritative, informed by expertise and academic insight, challenging, intellectually demanding and innovative. Proposals should indicate how the special issue will conform to these aims.

Proposers are expected to name a group of at least four firmly agreed participants, along with a list of prospective invitees. An open call for further participants can also be made. The proposal should indicate the range of topics that the special issue will aim to cover and the planned number of papers. Papers should comply with PQ guidelines on length and style. The overall word length of a special issue should not exceed 70,000 words. Proposals for special sections of 15-30,000 words are welcome. 

Accepted proposals will be supported with funding from PQ for a workshop or similar event. Proposals should be accompanied by an indicative costing, working to an expected level of funding of between £500 and £2000. As a general rule, participants should submit draft papers before the workshop and final versions shortly afterwards, but proposals for preparatory events before papers are written will also be considered.

Please submit proposals for special issues or sections to by 31 January 2016.

Proposals will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the Editorial Board and decisions advised within six weeks.

Checklist for proposals:
1. The names and contact details of the proposers and firmly-agreed participants, together with brief biographical information;
2. The title of the proposal and 2-3 page outline, including an indication of the planned number of papers and range of topics;
3. Prospective invitees, and the wording of the open call, if applicable;
4. Planned workshop/ event location, date, size and indicative costing.

The deadline for final submissions of papers will be set in consultation with the editors. Final acceptance of submissions will depend on independent editorial review by PQ, and the editors reserve the right not to accept all the submissions to a special issue.

To find out more about PQ's style and guidelines, read our notes for contributors here.