Author Archives: Colin Talbot

About Colin Talbot

Professor of Government. Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, England.

What’s in a Name? For some people rather too much, apparently….

Stefan Czerniawski, who goes under the blog name “Public Strategist”, has written a rather ill-informed and intemperate attack on a report we have just published based purely on the use of the term “Sir Humphrey” in the title. Firstly, Stefan … Continue reading

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Mandela – a musical tribute

I was involved in the struggle against apartheid from 1970 onwards. Whilst I was involved in all sorts of campaigns in the 70s and early 80s, it was the 1988 70th Birthday Concert for Mandela that lifted to campaign to … Continue reading

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Whitehall Watch has gone, to a better place…

Dear friends, colleagues and readers, Whitehall Watch has gone – but just to a better place. It has now joined what will be a suite of blogs under the umbrella of Manchester Policy Blogs. If you have come here (by … Continue reading

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Government defeats over public money in Parliament (crowd sourcing examples)

This is an appeal for a bit of research help from Whitehall Watch’s highly knowledgeable readership….. There is a widespread belief – often repeated  in serious academic texts – that any defeat on ‘budget’ or ‘money’ motions in the House … Continue reading

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Britons say no to smaller state (BSA 30)

By Colin Talbot, University of Manchester Britain is still a majority social-democratic country. That is, politically, the most significant finding of the latest British Social Attitudes survey published this week. Most people want a country which “gets and spends” about … Continue reading

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‘Universal Credit’ Crunch Arrives (as I predicted it would)

Today’s NAO Report on Universal Credit implementation is one of the hardest hitting critiques in living memory from a usually restrained institution. I would say “I hate to say I told you so”, but I don’t ‘hate to say it” … Continue reading

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NYT Excerpt: Radical Accounting And The Value Of Ideas

I thought this as interesting enough to share….. especially as an awful lot of public management reform is predicated on trying to replicate in the public sector the sort of outmoded private sector practices discussed below…. July 30, 201312:49 PM … Continue reading

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Whitehall Watch is changing

Hi all, I thought I should give you a quick update. Over the summer Whitehall Watch will be changing. First of all, Whitehall Watch will slowly become more of a multi-author blog, drawing on our community of “Whitehall Watchers” at … Continue reading

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BT: To Infinity and Beyond, or not

We, as a country, are failing dismally to provide a proper broadband infrastructure.  While debate rages around whether or not we’ll have HS2 sometime in the dim and distant future, right here right now we are lagging behind in our … Continue reading

Posted in Political Economy, Whitehall | 7 Comments

Save the Census – Save Our Stats

FROM: Beyond 2011 Independent Working Group – Save Our Statistics? This is an appeal by the Beyond 2011 independent working group to those who use official population and social statistics in the UK, particularly those concerned with area-based statistics. We … Continue reading

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Engaging with Policy: Whitehall, Westminster and the Academy

Many of us who study public policy academically often discuss just what impact our work has – do we influence anything? With the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise fast approaching, academics across Britain are busily putting together ‘impact’ statements to … Continue reading

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Local Government Strategies in an Age of Austerity

by Colin R. Talbot and Carole L. Talbot[1] University of Manchester Originally published in a CIPFA/PMPA pamphlet here (April 2011). Some of the data may be slightly dated, but the thrust of the argument remains valid and even more topical as a … Continue reading

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“Investing in Britain’s Future” Not so much.

I have heard some ludicrous claims by politicians in the past but the claim that this government is launching one of the biggest programmes of public investment in our history is breathtakingly ridiculous.

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Ministers and Mandarins : The IPPR’s 2013 Review of the Senior Civil Service: A Commentary

 by Dave Richards and Martin J. Smith[1] In penning this review of the IPPR’s newly published report on Accountability and Responsiveness in the Senior Civil Service: Lessons from Overseas we’d like to invoke the spirit of Frankie Howard by starting with … Continue reading

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SR2013 and SR2010: “Life is What Happens Whilst You’re Making Plans” (John Lennon)

The Chancellor, we are constantly being told, has stuck solidly to “Plan A” – the spending reductions set out in SR2010. And today’s “Spending Round” was only about 2015-16. Really?

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The Politics of Spending Review 2013: The ‘Star Chamber’ Phantom Menace and Turf Wars

(This is the second of a series of comments I’ll be making addressing different aspects of SR2013 over the next few days) SR 2013 has been agreed, we are told today. And some are claiming it was all settled amicably … Continue reading

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The Politics of Spending Review 2013: Why Now, Why at all?

(This is the first of a series of comments I’ll be making addressing different aspects of SR2013 over the next few days) It is striking that not a single political commentator has even asked the question: why is the Government … Continue reading

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In Defence of Quangos

This is the written evidence i presented to the PASC back in 2011 on the so-called cull of quangos, setting out why they are an important part of any democratic state: IN DEFENCE OF QUANGOS why arms-length bodies are a vital part of our … Continue reading

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Ministers and Mandarins: Time for Change?

The IPPR report on “Accountability and Responsiveness in the Senior Civil Service: Lessons from Overseas” is a welcome contribution to a debate that has been bubbling away for some time now about the fundamental relationship between Ministers and Mandarins in … Continue reading

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How to reduce Government debt by almost a third, at no cost? Sounds mad? Read on..

If it hadn’t come from such a well respected source you’d immediately think this was bonkers. Lord Adair Turner, former head of the FSA, appearing on the BBC R4 World at One suggested a very simple but extraordinary move. But … Continue reading

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