Category archive

‘White Papers’, Reports, Articles

"This is a collection of my articles, reports and ‘white papers’ commissioned by government, think tanks, political parties, universities and industries. It all began when I wrote an article for a national newspaper in 1976 on British manufacturing industry and how to improve it. I’m usually asked to propose a solution when other proposed ideas are based on conventional thinking. I’ve been told I strip away the noise of personal prejudice and the usual public debate. Some of the work here has had a significant effect - resulting in new legislation, new bodies, and/or new mindsets. My input has seen people benefit, parties win elections, industries improve, bids won. I’ve been described in the press as a ‘senior influential adviser’ and my input has prompted organisations from the International Olympic Committee to governments to businesses to change their whole approach. I’ve been credited with being a visionary in the sense of seeing ahead, often a long way. Of course, you only get to find out if you are right ten or more years down the road, and fortunately hindsight’s proven my arguments many times over. In the last 30 years, I’ve seen British manufacturing undergo a revolution. Now, Government needs the same."

Stand & Deliver: A Design For Successful Government

Summary: If you are ever angered by the standard of government we endure, you are not alone. A key issue for democratic politics, in the UK and many other nations, is what to do about voter disengagement. The faith that electorates have in governments – of whatever party – to make their lives better is dramatically decreasing, while the incompetence of our political structure and of those elected to office becomes ever more apparent…… Keep Reading

As well as being a democratic outrage, First Past the Post also has additional unseen consequences

Published by: Democratic Audit
Summary: The case against First Past The Post is well-established. But how many people are aware of its costs in wasted public expenditure, its maintenance of spent ideologies and their progeny of poor policies, its role in the decline in standards of governments, and its value to preferential lobbies and their appropriation of wealth? Keep Reading

Scrap Labour and start again

Published by: Prospect On-Line
Summary: It took three election losses from 1979 to 1987 before Labour found the motivation to become electable once more. What does all of this mean for a party again uncompetitive in the democratic marketplace? After the post-mortems what must Labour do to offer a realistic end to Conservative government? Keep Reading

The Dead Generalist

Published by: Demos
Summary: This pamphlet argues that the time for fundamental reform of the civil servcie has come, and that it should be treated by all political parties as a ‘day one’ issue, to be tackled at the very outset of a government or premiership. It sets out the essential elements of that reform, and suggests that they should be implemented within three to five years Keep Reading

Templeton Applied

Published by: Templeton College, Oxford University, edited by Sir Douglas Hague
Summary: Ed Straw also looks back to the brave new dawn of the 1990s, a time when ‘New Labour was soon to arrive in government, and my head was still full of the Strategic Leadership course’. He had become convinced from the programme that the principles for running corporates and public service bodies applied also to running the country: ‘Countries are bigger and more complex, but the challenges for successful leadership are very much the same: locating and using the points of influence which will work with that particular organization at that particular time.’ But with a significant twist: ‘What worked yesterday will not necessarily work tomorrow. What works for an established business model, like BP or Marks & Spencer . . . is not universally applicable. Cultures are strange and resilient. It is relatively easy to change things and difficult to change them for the better.’ Keep Reading

Government Matters – Part 1

Published by: Renewal, a journal of social democracy
Summary: The new relationship between government and people requires much more than a change in conversational tone. Expectations of rising competence means a government and political party process with this at its heart. Concentration on delivery means an understanding of the process of societal change and universal expertise in change management. Involvement of people in the decisions affecting their lives means a non-elitist decision-making process. These are the very considerable changes in the process of government and politics Keep Reading

Government Matters – Part 2

Published by: Renewal, a journal of social democracy
Summary: Roughly, the process of government works like this. Two parties compete for power. Individuals within each party compete to become MPs and thence to govern as ministers. This group of ministers makes decision based on their own views and on wider information and experience that they chose and/or have time to collect… Keep Reading

Reducing reoffending – an offender-centric business model

Published by: Smith Institute, from Advancing Opportunity: Routes In and Out of Criminal Justice
Summary: This paper describes how an “offender-centric” business model would work to reduce reoffending. It is written as if the model already existed, in around 2015. An account is also given of how such an apparently radical model might come to gain acceptance. To explore this further, let us introduce an imaginary private company called Reducing Reoffending plc… Keep Reading

Relative values – Support for relationships and parenting

Published by: Demos
Summary: This paper puts forward an outline for a comprehensive and sustained programme to improve the quality of parenting and adult relationships. The results of such a programme are intended to be more contented and more fulfilled children, parents and adults; families more at ease with themselves; less dysfunction, breakdown and in some cases, mental and physical harm… Keep Reading

Is The Civil Service Reformable?

Published by: Open Democracy
Summary: Finally, some Westminster politicians have concluded that real reform of the Civil Service will not be realized through party politics. A bi-partisan approach is being adopted. But, will it work? Can it work without the wider transformation of the whole system of government? These notes argue, no. Keep Reading

A Moment of Truth for the BBC?

Published by: Left Foot Forward
Summary: BBC News is exhibiting sure signs of an organisation without a purpose. Is it in the business of education and information? Or entertainment? Or a follower? It does not know and so it has no inner certainty when tricky decisions arise. If you don’t know why you are there beyond turning up, you have no guidebook of values…
Keep Reading

Who Are You?

Summary: Who is the Labour Party? What is it here for? Politics is no longer what is was, when labour was formed. It's founding objectives have been fulfilled. What now. This chapter sets out the past to be jettisoned and explores who the party might now be Keep Reading

Conditional sense

Published by: Progress Magazine
Summary: Based on research for the Social Market Foundation of conditional approaches in several countries, this article summarises its conclusions. Conditionality can and does work. It is not a panacea for all social problems, but it should play a central role in welfare, health, justice and divorce. Keep Reading

Social Change and Conditionality

Summary: Governments of various politics have made welfare conditionality the norm in many countries.But the tying of benefits to some action by the individual in receipt has proved a dilemma from some liberal consciences. This research examines the evidence of conditional approaches in several countries, provides a typology, draws conclusions on the conditions for successful conditionality, and speculates as to where else conditional approaches could be applied in the uk. Keep Reading

Tomorrow’s Immigration

Background paper for BBC Radio 4 programme
Summary: Immigration is a toxic orthodoxy of our time.It needs an open honest debate now, even though the horse has bolted. Statistical warfare won’t solve it. The benefits of immigration are well-rehearsed.The disbenefits are in congestion, population size, house prices, costs of incremental infrastucture, social exclusion, social housing allocation, rate of social change, displaced citizens, the adaptation ratio, national identity, and an unease about the long-term destination of our values. Emotion is part of this mix. We need a balanced, progressive and democratic immigration policy. Keep Reading

Risky business: Tough action must be taken against rogue bankers who have for too long evaded responsibility for their actions

Published by: ‘Progress’ December 8, 2009
Summary: The weakest link in modern capitalism is that the interest of the individual top managers is no longer the same as the company or the shareholder interest. Thus, managements can and do increase their incomes and wealth whilst their companies’ and shareholders’ income and wealth declines. Keep Reading

The right cuts can boost services: A step-by step guide to minimising the damage that will be caused by the coming decline in public expenditure

Summary: History has much to teach us about public sector cuts. The Thatcher administration adopted largely blunt instrument cutting, which resulted in some fairly awful public services and New Labour’s mandate in 1997 to restore balanced spending levels. Which they did, but then indulged in 'debt and spend’. Keep Reading

A Constitution for Climate Chaos

Summary: A constitution for climate chaos would give greater weight to the long term than the short; would provide for representation of sustainability, of itself, in the legislature and in government; would encourage more talent with vision and leadership into government and into power; would eliminate the biases in the application of power secured by businesses, industries and trade unions; and would engage citizens and consumers systematically in understanding climate change and in the decisions needed to limit it. Keep Reading

Saying Something About Marriage

Published by: Relate
Summary: We all seem to be agreed that we need to have something to say about marriage to the press. We had a wide-ranging and inconclusive debate on what we might say. Which got me to thinking about the purpose behind such statements. Why are we saying whatever it is we say? If we are clear about this then we should find it easier to decide what to say. For example, if we want to increase the numbers marrying and reduce those cohabitating, then we could publicly support the statistics demonstrating the benefits of marriage by comparison with cohabitation. Providing this evidence is conclusive, such statements of support would lead to a positive change in behaviour, the ‘on average’ outcome would be applicable to the specific cohabitees who are the target, and there would be limited negative side effects. Keep Reading


Forward to Sensual Sex

Published / Commissioned by (whichever is appropriate):
Summary: What an interesting book! We are all supposed to be experts. But I have certainly learnt a lot…not least what coffee, brussel sprouts and asparagus have in common (page XX reveals this little known etiquette), as well as a better understanding of the male anatomy (I always wondered why I enjoyed something some regard as taboo), and of the female (if more pleasure can be given then I’d love to give it). Keep Reading

The Law Society Debate: Hitched Up or Stitched Up

Summary: Let’s not tell and tinker, often at high cost, but provide the sort of comprehensive and sustained persuasion, education and support described in my report – Relative Values – as a national relationship and parenting service. In this vein, a good divorce process and remedy sentencing are legal changes we need, not discriminating against cohabitees. If one really wants to support marriage – as I do – don’t moralise and penalise, which anyway does not work, provide useful support and services to everyone without discrimination. Keep Reading

Good divorce

Summary: Relate’s objective in its programmes – ‘New Life, New Challenge’ for the newly separated and Relate teen for children experiencing divorce – is to make the best of an unfortunate set of circumstances, through participants understanding the emotional journey they are on, limiting guilt and blame, and developing new skills and awareness for existing and future relationships. Divorce is never easy, but it does not have to be this bad. Keep Reading


From Love to a Broken Home in Nine Easy Stages

Summary: Process analysis is a tool commonly used in organisations to understand how services are delivered to customers and citizens. This is the first time it has been used to attempt to understand how one couple, featured on a Panorama programme in the 90s, came from being in love to splitting up in 5 years, painful and possibly unnecessary. The build boxes represent the proposals taken from Relative Values which would have helped at each stage to prevent the deteriorating relationship and to build a solid family. Such analysis can shed the light on the causes and solutions to other family strains. Keep Reading

Lessons from the standards wars

Published by: Coopers & Lybrand
Summary: "Standards wars, driven by nationalism and corporate xenophobia, have made industries and broken companies. They are conducted at the expense of everyone involved , from those who start them right through to the consumer. Yet we seem incapable of learning from the past in order to prevent wars of the future………” Keep Reading

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