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These are tumultuous times in UK politics. Government is under strain, the civil service is under pressure, and ministers are grappling with the fallout of Covid, the impact of Brexit and an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. So where is government working well and what is it doing badly? What can be done to make No10, the Treasury and the rest of government function more effectively? And as a general election draws ever nearer, what are the key political and policy dividing lines – and wh ...
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The pace of British politics isn’t slowing down. A big international summit for Keir Starmer. Devastating Covid inquiry headlines. And a King’s Speech full of bills. But all this is nothing compared to the US. President Biden – now isolating with Covid – is under pressure to withdraw from the 2024 race, and his rival Donald Trump survived, by milli…
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The King’s Speech on 17 July set out Sir Keir Starmer’s legislative agenda for government and revealed his priorities for the parliamentary session.While Labour’s attention and resources have been focused on the general election campaign, Starmer and his team will also have been preparing for this major constitutional moment. Legislation to nationa…
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Special Advisers are some of the most important yet misunderstood figures in government. They play vital roles – as the voice of their minister in the department, shaping policy agendas and managing the media. As a new government gets up and running and scores of new SpAds get to grips with their roles, this special four-part series from the Instit…
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Since 2010 the UK’s capital spending on prisons, hospitals and schools has been consistently lower than many other countries – leading to crumbling buildings, creaking IT and a lack of equipment. But the size of the budgets is only part of the problem – these budgets have also been badly spent.This will continue to hamper public service performance…
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The New Statesman’s Freddie Hayward joins the Inside Briefing team to reflect on Keir Starmer’s busy first week as prime minister, with the PM appointing new ministers, the government firing off press releases and policy announcements, and Rachel Reeves making her first big speech as chancellor. But Starmer is also facing his first difficult decisi…
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A general election brings the appointment of a whole host of new ministers, and on day one in government they begin a job like no other.Former shadow ministers may be familiar with their new policy portfolio, but ministerial life is very different to opposition. The switch from leading a small team to heading up departments with hundreds or thousan…
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Keir Starmer used his first speech as prime minister to declare that the “work of change begins immediately”. But how will the Labour government approach the complex policy challenges that it has inherited? And how will it start making progress on new promises? From freeing up space in crowded prisons to turning around struggling public services, d…
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We hosted a special livestreamed recording of the Institute for Government podcast, as a team of IfG experts – bleary eyed but full of coffee – gathered in the podcast studio to make sense of a momentous night in British politics. What does the general election result mean for how the UK will be governed? What decisions and duties await the prime m…
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Follow our live-blog for all our general election coverage: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/live-blog/general-election-2024We hosted a special livestreamed recording of the Institute for Government podcast, as a team of IfG experts – bleary eyed but full of coffee – gathered in the podcast studio to make sense of a momentous night in Brit…
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This Friday will be day one in government for the winner of the general election. But there will be no chance for anyone to catch their breath after a gruelling campaign. The job begins at once.So what should civil servants be braced to expect as ministers are appointed to their new roles? How can special advisers best prepare for that frenetic fir…
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Episode 6 explores the first days, weeks and months of a new government. We speak to those who've entered No.10 alongside the prime minister on day one, found themselves suddenly running a government department, or have welcomed a brand new political team into office as a senior civil servant, including: Ed Balls, Jonathan Powell, Gus O'Donnell, Ha…
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Episode 5 explores the role that manifestos play in – and after – an election campaign. How do political parties write their manifestos? What does a good manifesto look like? What are the questions that Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will be considering when signing off on their manifestos for the 2024 general election? And how hard is it to deliver …
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Episode 4 explores how the governing party prepares for an election while continuing to govern, with ministers, civil servants and special advisers – including Oliver Letwin, Harriet Harman, Gus O'Donnell, Polly Mackenzie and Nick Macpherson – revealing how they approached the work of government during an election campaign.How does a governing part…
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Episode 3 explores how opposition parties prepare for a potential transition of government, with ministers, civil servants and advisers, including Jonathan Powell, Harriet Harman, Gus O’Donnell and Oliver Letwin, revealing how they got ready for the possibility of a change of government.How does an opposition develop policies that would actually wo…
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Episode 2 explores how the civil service prepares for a potential transition of government, with five former permanent secretaries revealing how they readied themselves and their departments for a potential change in their political bosses.How does Whitehall prepare for a change in the party in power? What can civil servants do to get ready for a h…
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Whoever forms the next government will need to be prepared. The job begins almost as soon as the votes have been counted.So what is it like to go from opposition to government overnight? How do civil servants get ready for the possibility of a transition of power or a hung parliament? And what is it like for a governing party to continue in power a…
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The Conservatives have been warning voters of the 'dangers' of Labour winning a huge – or 'super' – majority at the general election on Thursday. But what exactly is a supermajority, and do these warnings add up?With just under a week to go until polling day, this Institute for Government webinar explores the Conservatives' claims – and set out wha…
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We’re into the general election final countdown and all the polls point to a big Labour win for Keir Starmer. So does Rishi Sunak have any aces up his sleeve or has the general election gambling scandal confirmed many Conservatives’ fears that that their leader is a busted flush? The Guardian’s Rafael Behr joins the podcast to look back on the camp…
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Despite historically large tax increases since 2019, the current government’s plans imply debt continuing to rise for several years and only barely beginning to fall in five years’ time – and then only on the basis of implausible plans for public spending and rises in fuel duty that no government since 2011 has managed to implement. Drawing on Ipso…
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There are less than two weeks to go until the general election and the polls are showing no signs of shifting. But what do they really tell us about what voters are thinking about Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer? Which Labour or Conservative policies and promises are cutting through? What are the polls to look out for? Deltapoll’s Joe Twyman joins the…
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Public services are a key election battleground. The NHS is consistently cited in surveys as one of the top two issues facing the country, while social care and schools have played a critical role in deciding recent elections. Rishi Sunak made improving NHS performance one of his key pledges, Keir Starmer included healthcare and schools in his six …
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Manifesto week of the general election campaign has seen lots of promises, plenty of policies and even more polling – but whose plans for government actually add up? Kitty Donaldson, chief political commentator of the i paper, is this week’s podcast guest as Inside Briefing weighs up what we learned from the manifesto launches – and what they mean …
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Manifesto launches are a significant moment in any general election campaign, and Thursday’s publication of Labour’s manifesto is a big chance for Keir Starmer to set out how his party would govern if it wins the general election on 4 July.So how plausible are the manifesto’s plans? What are the big dividing lines with the Conservatives? How would …
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Manifesto launches are a significant moment in any general election campaign, and Tuesday’s publication of the Conservative manifesto is a big opportunity for Rishi Sunak’s party to set out its vision for government if it wins the general election on 4 July.So what are the flagship policies? Do the tax and spending numbers add up? How plausible and…
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With attention focused on politicians, and politicians focused on winning votes, a general election campaign is an unusual time for civil servants. Their top priority remains serving the government of the day, but they must also prepare for a potential transition of power, and be ready to work with whoever forms the next government. Civil service a…
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We were swamped with loads of fantastic questions at our recent IfG webinar and didn’t have time to get to all of them – so, by special request, Jill Rutter, Cath Haddon and Alex Thomas have reunited in the IfG podcast studio to record this special Question Time episode of Inside Briefing. So as Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer hit the general election…
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The IfG rebuttal unit kicked into gear this week after our very own Nick Davies found himself dragged into the Conservative party’s tax attack on Labour. So where did that number really come from – and what can Labour do about it? Full Fact’s Chris Morris joins the IfG podcast to look back on a very noisy TV debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Star…
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Was Rishi Sunak’s rain-soaked speech on the steps of No10 really only a week ago? We’ve had policy announcements, MPs stepping down, a spectacular fall from a paddle board, more MPs stepping down, Keir Starmer colliding with the Labour left, Rishi Sunak clashing with some of his ministers, Nigel Farage deciding not to stand for parliament - again. …
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So what can be done to improve productivity? By highlighting outstanding examples of innovation across public services, Productivity Pitches, a new series of events hosted by the IfG, aims to share and support ways to improve performance levels. This event was the third in the series and focussed on health and social care. Each speaker had 10 minut…
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Rishi Sunak has braved the weather and called a general election. So, what happens now? The IfG has been bombarded with questions about what this all means for government, for parliament, for the civil service, for legislation, for candidates, for conferences, and more. And these really are the type of questions that get the IfG’s collective pulse …
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The wait is over! The election has been called! The countdown to July the 4th starts now. After months of speculation, and a frenzied day of drama in Westminster, the IfG podcast team are joined by Sam Freedman to make sense of Rishi Sunak’s decision and explore what happens next. Things could hardly have got wetter as the prime minister gave his p…
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Preventative public services are designed to deal with problems before they develop, or before they become more complicated to manage. Evidence suggests that children in particular benefit from investment whether that’s in the early years, or earlier in their life cycle, helping to prevent problems from determining their outcomes later in life. The…
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The Rt Hon David Lammy MP set out how a foreign policy lens of 'progressive realism' might affect the practice of diplomacy, should Labour win the election.The discussion covered the evolution of the Foreign Office as an institution, under both Labour and Conservative governments. It focused in particular on the balance between traditional diplomat…
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Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer delivered their election pitches to the public this week – the PM with a focus on security and the Labour leader with six broader commitments from tackling NHS waiting lists to small boats. In parliament, the week started with a sobering report on the trauma that too many women face while giving birth. And on Monday eve…
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The Institute for Government welcomed Lucy Powell MP, the Shadow Leader of the Commons, to give a keynote speech on how a Labour government would approach parliament, the legislative process, and the role of MPs. With Westminster hit by a series of scandals in recent years, what can be done to restore parliament's image? How can the legislative pro…
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The defection of Dover MP Natalie Elphicke shocked both the Conservatives and, it seems, most of the Labour Party. The FT’s Lucy Fisher joined the podcast team to weigh up another a big twist in the Westminster soap opera. Meanwhile a massive government data breach has sent Whitehall into a panic. But how big is the problem, who is responsible and …
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The success of the civil service has always depended on the recruitment and retention of exceptional individuals – and this means bringing in talented outsiders with particular skills and capabilities.It is 170 years since the Northcote-Trevelyan report argued that people “of the highest abilities should be selected for the highest posts” in Whiteh…
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The Conservatives take a pounding in the local elections and Labour are taking councils in former Brexit heartlands. But there’s a crumb of Tory comfort in Ben Houchen’s victory in the Tees Valley mayoral election – and Labour fail to take key target Harlow. As results continue to roll in, what do the last votes before the General Election mean for…
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On Thursday 2 May 2024, voters across England and Wales will head to the polls in a major set of local and mayoral elections. The highest-profile contests will be the election of 10 influential metro mayors – including in Greater London and across the north and the midlands. Together these leaders will be responsible for over £25bn of public spendi…
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The establishment of the mayor of London and the London Assembly in 2000 was a milestone moment for English devolution. With a budget of over £20bn and responsibility for key functions – including transport, policing and economic development – the mayor of London is one of the most powerful and high-profile figures in British politics.The UK govern…
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From little black books to pet tarantulas, MPs being dragged out of ambulances to vote and tantalising promises of ministerial office, the alleged ‘dark arts’ of the government Whips’ Office have a fearsome reputation. But in reality a government whip is an important conduit between backbenchers and No.10, while also playing an increasingly large r…
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Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda Act is finally on the statute book, and the prime minister has promised that – “no ifs, no buts” – flights will be taking off by the summer. So how much of a triumph is his for Sunak – and what legal challenges could still derail his asylum plan? Political journalist Zoe Grunewald joins the podcast team to weigh up an …
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Trust in government and politicians continues to fall, and this parliament has seen many ethical scandals, from partygate to bullying. Over the last few years, various organisations including the IfG have called for major reforms to the way ethical standards are upheld in public life, but the government has only made piecemeal changes. Labour has c…
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Liz Truss is back, with her new book providing journalists with all sorts of extraordinary insights into her retrospective arguments about why her premiership collapsed. But what legacy has Truss left the Conservatives in the polls and what does this tell us about how voters view the party? Polling expert Will Jennings joins the podcast team to tak…
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Less than a year out from a general election, the significance of opinion polls in shaping public perception and political strategy is increasingly prominent. Political pundits, parties, journalists and members of the public look to opinion polls to give them a picture of what people are thinking about parties and politicians, their priorities and …
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Is the Foreign Office still a department built to deliver the UK’s global priorities in the 21st century or is it out of date in the way it looks and works? Is David Cameron’s comeback as foreign secretary turning out to be a surprise success and what has it meant for the UK’s diplomatic clout? And just how complicated is the civil job of servants …
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Is China really launching cyberattacks on British politicians and institutions? If so, then how serious is the threat – and what can the government do about it? Ciaran Martin, the first chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, joins the podcast team to discuss. Two more ministers have quit the government – and announced that they will…
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The question of how to reform the House of Lords dominates discussions about the upper house, with less attention focused on its day-to-day activities. Since his election as Lord Speaker in 2021, Lord McFall of Alcluith has sought to champion its important role of revising legislation and advising the government, while ensuring the Lords remains on…
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