A new book examined the welfare state policies of conservative and liberal governments. Drawing on analysis of public opinion and policy in a set of western democracies and in-depth case studies of Australia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, it argued that the policy goals of the political right, and the attitudes of their political supporters to the welfare state, were much more diverse than was usually believed.
Source: Carsten Jensen, The Right and the Welfare State, Oxford University Press
A report by a committee of MPs said that, with the date of the next United Kingdom general election fixed for the first time by statute for 7 May 2015, there was now a unique opportunity to consider how best to use the final year, and to prepare for the next Parliament. The committee recommended: that all parties should now consider the long-term issues that would need to be addressed during the next Parliament; that arrangements for pre-election contacts between the civil service and Opposition should be formalized; that meetings should in future be authorized automatically in the final year of a Parliament; and that parties should develop a consensus on how party policy could most effectively be costed ahead of future general elections.
Source: Fixed-term Parliaments: The final year of a Parliament, Thirteenth Report (Session 201314), HC 976, House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, TSO
Two reports examined issues related to the contact between the civil service and United Kingdom political parties in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Such contact traditionally gave an opportunity to consider potential change ahead of the election, to assist in the handover process. The first report looked at how the civil service should work with the two coalition parties, and the challenges likely to arise, in the final year of the existing term. It argued that there was a need for greater clarity on how this contact should operate, in order to avoid variation in practice, tension between the coalition parties, and confusion among officials. The second report examined pre-election contacts between the civil service and the Opposition, drawing on experiences from the post-election handover in 2010 to consider how useful such discussions were, how they operated, and whether the process might be improved.
Source: Akash Paun and Robyn Munro, Year Five: Whitehall and the parties in the final year of coalition, Institute for Government
Source: Catherine Haddon and Siddharth Varma, Pre-election Contact between the Civil Service and the Parties: Lessons from 2010, Institute for Government
A report provided the results from an internal review of options for reform of the Labour Party, in particular: the use of primaries in the selection of London mayoral, and other, candidates; the conduct of candidate selection processes; the relationships between the party and affiliated organizations, such as the trade unions; and constituency development agreements.
Source: Ray Collins, Building a One Nation Labour Party: The Collins Review into Labour Party reform, Labour Party
A paper examined public sector reform. It said that the debate about whether or not to reform had now became sterile. It outlined a strategy, or roadmap, for reform that would pursue improvement through a 'disciplined pluralism' that recognized the value of diverse institutions, communities, and places. It called on the Labour Party to work towards a clear economic and social rationale for reform, with the resources to make changes, the development of capacity to develop tailored and personalized services, and sustained political support for organizations while the changes progressed.
Source: Patrick Diamond, Joe Goldberg, Hopi Sen, and Jacqui Smith, Reform in an Age of Austerity: A journey, not a destination, Progress
A report by a committee of peers examined the constitutional implications of multi-party government, how the coalition had changed or developed the conventions and practices of government and parliament, and what impact that would have on future single-party governments. It said that collective ministerial responsibility was the convention most affected by coalition government and recommended the development of a process whereby arrangements for the parties to differ on specific issues were collectively agreed and announced. The committee noted the impending election in 2015 and said that the coalition parties should now plan the use of remaining parliamentary time and make arrangements for confidential information sharing during the final months of the existing term.
Source: Constitutional Implications of Coalition Government, 5th Report (Session 201314), HL 130, House of Lords Constitution Select Committee, TSO
A think-tank published a collection of essays from national and local Labour party politicians on localism in England. The essays outlined a range of ideas for a shift of powers from central to local government.
Source: Labour and Localism: Perspectives on a new English deal, Smith Institute