On this page you will find the latest History & Policy news. Older news items are in our news archive. To keep up-to-date with the latest History & Policy news, sign up for our email alerts or follow us on Twitter.
Thatcher's historical legacy
20 May 2013
Like that of Margaret Thatcher, assessments of Sir Robert Peel's legacy have blown with the prevailing political wind. Charles Read explores what the many interpretations and reinterpretations of Peel's legacy, tell us about how Thatcher may come to be viewed by historians.
Read Charles Read's article: Will Thatcher's historical legacy, like Robert Peel's, U-turn from beyond the grave?
History & Policy lecture series at Gresham College
4, 11 and 18 June 2013
Three leading members of the H&P Network will give public lectures at Gresham College in June as part of a special History & Policy series, at 6pm on consecutive Tuesdays:
Prof David Reynolds of Christ's College, Cambridge, will speak about Summit diplomacy: some lessons from history for 21st Century leaders (4 June)
Dr Paul Warde of UEA will discuss Choosing a Past for the Future: Why today's environment policy is also history (but doesn't know it) (11 June)
H&P co-founder Prof Simon Szreter of St John's College, Cambridge, will explore What have Henry VIII and Elizabeth I got to do with 21st century development policy? (18 June)
Entry to all Gresham College events is on a first-come, first-served basis, so please arrive in good time. Visit the Gresham College website for further information and directions.
See also the speakers' previous History & Policy papers: David Reynolds: The Prime Minister as world statesman, Paul Warde: Low carbon futures and high carbon pasts: policy challenges in historical perspective, Simon Szreter: The right of registration: development, identity registration and social security
Coalition governments:'always unpopular and seldom lasted long'?
10 May 2013
In 1886 Liberal Unionist Lord Derby said coalition governments 'were always unpopular and seldom lasted long.' On the eve of the third anniversary of the current Coalition Government, Ian Cawood, of Newman University, assesses the performance, politics and popularity of the six previous coalition governments in the last 120 years - and the implications for relations between the parties in coalition today.
Read the opinion piece: Coalition governments:'always unpopular and seldom lasted long'?
Read the policy paper: Liberal-Conservative Coalitions -'a farce and a fraud'?
Upsetting the gentlemen's club
8 May 2013
When Margaret Thatcher entered the House of Commons in 1959 she was one of 25 women among 605 men. She overcame considerable prejudice against women in politics during her extraordinary career. In the latest article for the Downing Street website, Ben Griffin, of Cambridge University, reflects on the uneven erosion of sexual inequality in British parliamentary politics.
Read Ben Griffin's article: Thatcher and the glass ceiling
Margaret Thatcher and the Cold War
30 April 2013
Despite her lack of foreign policy experience on becoming Prime Minister in 1979, Margaret Thatcher soon played an active and sometimes surprising role in foreign affairs, as Dr Andrew Holt, of Nottingham University, explains.
Read Andrew Holt's opinion piece: Margaret Thatcher and the Cold War
Disraeli's flowery legacy
26 April 2013
Benjamin Disraeli's coffin was lowered to the ground 132 years ago today - among the floral tributes, a primrose wreath from Queen Victoria. In the latest article for the Downing Street website, Tom Crewe, of Cambridge University, considers 'the unusual bond' forged between Prime Minister and sovereign - and Disraeli's primrose legacy catalysed by Victoria.
Read Tom Crewe's article: Disraeli's flowery legacy
Understanding Margaret Thatcher and her legacy
17 April 2013
In the wake of Baroness Thatcher's funeral, H&P historians offer insightful analysis of her premiership and legacy. Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, of Cambridge University, examines her complex attitudes to welfare, Dr James Cooper, of Oxford Brookes University, pierces the stereotype of the Thatcher-Reagan relationship, and Dr Eliza Filby, of King's College London, argues that Thatcherism owed more to Methodism than monetarism.
Read Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite's H&P opinion piece: Margaret Thatcher, individualism and the welfare state
Read James Cooper's H&P opinion piece: Reagan vs. Thatcher: unpicking the special relationship
Read Eliza Filby's article in The Telegraph: Margaret Thatcher: her unswerving faith shaped by her father
The Peace of Utrecht: why Britain is forgetting to remember
16 April 2013
Three hundred years ago, Britain signed a peace treaty that concluded a quarter of a century of warfare, cemented her place as a world power and secured the constitutional monarchy established through the Glorious Revolution. Andrew C. Thompson of Queens' College, Cambridge, explores why we are so reluctant to commemorate the Peace of Utrecht, and why it should feature in the new school history curriculum.
Read Andrew C. Thompson's opinion piece, The Peace of Utrecht: why Britain is forgetting to remember
Any takers for roast horse on Easter Sunday?
28 March 2013
Will any British families be sitting down to eat roast horse this Easter Sunday? With rising meat prices and squeezed household budgets, perhaps they should do, argues Mark Roodhouse of York University. Despite previous attempts to 'break the taboo', British people have long been reluctant to eat horsemeat. But without a legitimate market, history shows that today's black marketeers need only bide their time until the current scandal fades and 'traces of horse' creep into the food chain once more.
Read Mark Roodhouse's opinion piece, Break the taboo on horsemeat - or food fraud will continue
See also his OUP blog, Eating horse in austerity Britain
Seventy years and counting: the unsolved problem of press regulation
26 March 2013
The Leveson Inquiry was the seventh government-commissioned inquiry into press regulation in the last seventy years. In a new policy paper, Tom O'Malley, Professor of Media at Aberystwyth University, predicts an eighth. He explores the long history of policy failure in this area, and critiques the polarised debate over 'State censorship versus free speech'. Prof O'Malley will be speaking in a H&P discussion at the Social History Society Conference in Leeds this afternoon, Unhappy birthday? The crisis of press self-regulation, chaired by H&P Senior Editor Adrian Bingham.
Read Tom O'Malley's H&P paper Seventy years and counting: the unsolved problem of press regulation
Britain's '9/11 Wars' in historical perspective: why change and continuity matter
20 March 2013
Britain's involvement in the '9/11 Wars' has transformed the security landscape but history shows that 'new' adversaries are not that novel and share similarities with more familiar terrorist threats. Dr Aaron Edwards, of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, argues that a strategic analysis of the history of Irish republican terrorism, Al Qaeda affiliates and Britain's response to such adversaries, offers important insights for decision makers today.
Read Aaron Edwards H&P paper Britain's '9/11 Wars' in historical perspective: why change and continuity matter
Votes for Victorian women
18 March 2013
Women were active voters 75 years before they received the parliamentary franchise in 1918, Sarah Richardson of Warwick University reveals. Previously unseen evidence shows that women voted in parish elections, proof, Prof. Richardson argues, that their political activity was not confined to 'soft politics' as traditionally thought. Prof. Richardson will present BBC Radio 4's Document at 8.00pm tonight to discuss Votes for Victorian Women.
Read Sarah Richardson's H&P paper, Where are all the women in politics?
Ready for ageing?
18 March 2013
The Ready for Ageing? report, published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change, draws extensively on evidence from H&P co-founder Pat Thane, of the Institute of Contemporary British History at King's College London. Reflecting her evidence about the positive contributions of older people to British society, the report calls for present-day attitudes viewing the elderly as a 'burden' should be challenged, and government policy radically reformed to respond to challenging demographic trends.
Read the Ready for Ageing? report [pdf 1.73MB]
See also: Pat Thane's H&P paper, The work-life balance in an ageing society
Call for historical advisers in government
14 March 2013
Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler has called for every government department to appoint a historical adviser. In Civil Service World, Lord Butler describes those who take policy decisions in ignorance of the lessons of history as 'like a driver who commits to some manoeuvre in the road without looking into the rear mirror'. Dr Lucy Delap, incoming Director of H&P, welcomed the debate: 'Lord Butler has pointed to a real problem at the heart of British government - its tendency to live in the present. This impoverishment can be remedied by drawing on the expertise of Britain's first class historical profession, leading to a sense of 'what works' being embedded in government.' H&P currently runs seminar series in the Department for Education and the Treasury. 'Historical perspectives can help policy makers to 'think in time', spot patterns and avoid the mistakes of their predecessors,' said Dr Delap.
Read the article: Every department should have a historical adviser
The spirit of '45
12 March 2013
Ahead of the release of Ken Loach's new film celebrating the post-war foundation of Britain's welfare state, a new H&P opinion piece by Bryce Evans of Liverpool Hope University explores the myths and realities of The Spirit of '45, in film, popular culture and modern politics. H&P Network member Steven Fielding of Nottingham University argues in an article for The Guardian that Loach's film would be 'better called The Myth of '45'.
Click here to read Bryce Evans' opinion piece
Click here to read Steven Fielding's article for The Guardian
Is modern childhood ending too soon?
11 March 2013
In the wake of a Netmums survey revealing that many parents feel modern childhood is over by the age of 12, Kate Bradley of Kent University puts their concerns into historical perspective. She argues that Netmums are 'mourning a golden age of childhood that never existed'.
Click here to read Kate Bradley's opinion piece
New draft history curriculum: new dawn or return to the past for English schools?
13 February 2013
Here we bring you exclusive comment from expert historians on the new, draft history curriculum for England published last week. Nicola Sheldon of the Institute of Education explains why it takes history teaching back to the 1900-1970 era. Dr Sheldon, an expert on history in education and a Teach First professional tutor, describes the draft as, 'Our Island Story for the twenty-first century'. While Robert Guyver sees Michael Gove's narrative of 'progress' starring England's 'heroes and heroines' as more promising and sophisticated than earlier leaks to the media suggested.
Should we thank Mr Gove for giving us more history?
7 February 2013
As a new draft national curriculum for England is published for consultation today, Robert Guyver examines the high and low points for history teaching in schools. He reflects that Secretary of State Michael Gove's narrative of 'progress' starring England's 'heroes and heroines' is more promising and sophisticated than earlier leaks to the media had suggested.
Click here to read Robert Guyver's opinion piece
See also: The role of government in determining the school history curriculum: lessons from Australia by Robert Guyver
The trouble with deposit insurance
5 February 2013
Only the state has assets sufficient to prop up a failing bank, argues historian Adrian B. Leonard of Cambridge University in a new H&P paper published today. Deposit insurance, to protect the taxpayer from liability in the event of future bank failures, seems an attractive idea. Yet it did not feature in the Banking Reform Bill, introduced to Parliament by Chancellor George Osborne yesterday - and that's a good thing, Leonard argues. His analysis of the commercial insurance industry since the seventeenth century suggests no insurer could ever meet such vast liabilities - only the state can step in to protect depositors when banks fail.
Click here to read Adrian Leonard's policy paper
See also: British and American banking in historical perspective: beware of false precedents by Ranald Michie and Simon Mollan
The Conservatives and Europe: the long view
29 January 2013
Some Conservatives may welcome Cameron's speech on Europe - and membership of a trading, not political Europe. But Scott Newton, of Cardiff University, suggests this is unrealistic, contradicts the direction of British foreign policy since the early 20th century - and could result in a dangerous strategic denouement.
Click here to read Scott Newton's opinion piece
The Aberdeen Coalition
23 January 2013
In the latest guest historian article for the No. 10 Downing Street website, Oxford University Professor of Modern History, Angus Hawkins, examines the Aberdeen Coalition of 1852-55, a 'tessellated pavement' of Whigs, Liberals, Peelites and one Radical.
Read the article: The Aberdeen Coalition
The Summer baby who will be King... or Queen
15 January 2013
As the unborn third-in-line to the throne is confirmed to be due in July, Ann Lyon of Plymouth University explains why historically, monarchies have gone to such great lengths to avoid female rulers. While there is general support for the government's 'strict primogeniture' Bill, she argues that the lack of parity with other hereditary titles could create future legal dramas worthy of Downton Abbey.
Click here to read Ann Lyon's opinion piece
Hyperactive: the controversial history of ADHD
10 January 2013
Hyperactivity in children remains a highly controversial issue. In an article reflecting on his new book, Hyperactive: the controversial history of ADHD, Matthew Smith of Strathclyde University explains what motivated his research and how it can inform current debates about hyperactivity and the nature of childhood in modern Western societies. Dr Smith will be speaking at a H&P seminar for the Department for Education later today.
Click here to read the article
To find out more about H&P's partnership with the Department for Education, click here
See also Matthew Smith's policy paper: History and hyperactivity: the Feingold diet
Why 'angry white guys' aren't a good bet for Republicans
20 December 2012
Robert Mason, of the University of Edinburgh, considers the demographic challenges faced by the Republicans, as the party reviews its recent electoral performance. He examines the electoral tactics employed by Republican presidents and party leaders between the 1920s and 1980s, when their party was in the minority. And in assessing the shortcomings and legacy of Richard Nixon, Mason offers lessons for Republicans today.Read the opinion piece: 'Angry white guys' and the future of the Republican Party Read the policy paper: The Republican Party in defeat
The first royal Christmas broadcast
20 December 2012
Matthew Glencross considers the role of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and the BBC in encouraging a reluctant George V to broadcast the first personal message by a British monarch at Christmas - and to make it an annual tradition, uninterrupted for 80 years. Read the article on the No. 10 website, the latest in the H&P collaboration to help revitalise the history content of the Downing Street website.
Read the article: The first Christmas speech - 80 years on
New report into how history is used in trade unions
19 December 2012
There is scope to expand the provision of history in union education and training, according to a new report released by H&P. Historians could get involved in several ways - and there is interest from unions in collaborating, says Rupert Griffin, of the Trade Union Research Unit at Ruskin College, Oxford, who conducted the research for H&P. The project was supported by the Business Futures Fund at King's College London.
To read the executive summary: please click here [pdf 139kb]
Historians, policy experts and King's students in dialogue
Following the success of our experimental History and Policy in Practice course this Autumn, registration is now open for a second course in January and February. History and Policy in Practice tests both the relevance of history to policy and develops students' policy making skills. The centerpiece is an expert workshop on Weds 20 February, with confirmed speakers including: former Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson of Dinton, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke, renowned virologist John Oxford and historians Edgar Jones and Lucy Delap. This extra-curricular course is free, with places for up to 40 postgraduate history students from any department at King's College London.
For more information: please click here [pdf 59kb]
H&P Editor: 'Leveson knows his history'
3 December 2012
In H&P's 100th opinion article, our Senior Editor Adrian Bingham discusses the extensive use made of history in the Leveson report and explains how the British press have repeatedly wriggled off the regulatory hook. Are they really now drinking in the 'last chance saloon'? Welcoming the Leveson proposals, Dr Bingham said: 'Leveson clearly knows his history: his proposals are shaped by his detailed knowledge of the failures of decades of self-regulation.'
Read Adrian Bingham's opinion article No more reports, please: Lord Leveson and the uses of history
Download the Leveson report: An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. Adrian Bingham's research is referenced on pages 206, 209 and 210 of volume 1.
See also Adrian Bingham's 2005 History & Policy paper: Monitoring the popular press: an historical perspective
Prime Ministers and their Foreign Secretaries
28 November 2012
From Lord Liverpool and Lord Castlereagh to Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin, Dr John Bew examines what lies behind a good working relationship between a Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary in the latest article for the No. 10 Downing Street website. Prof Bew, Reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department, King's College London, offers revealing insights into this complex and sometimes fractious relationship.
Read the article: Prime Ministers and their Foreign Secretaries
Valuing Nature: inaugural meeting of the H&P Environment Forum today
16 November 2012
H&P's new Environment Forum meets today for the first time. Convenor Dr Paul Warde, of UEA, will present ideas about 'Valuing Nature', followed by responses from Professor Peter Coates, of Bristol University, before a discussion with participants from government, civil society and academia. An online report of the exchange will be available shortly.
For more information: H&P Environment Forum
A British FBI? Creating an intelligent approach to organised crime
12 November 2012
Does Britain need its own FBI, as the Prime Minister suggested in his recent speech on crime? Historian Michael Woodiwiss cautions against making British policy on the American model, in a new H&P policy paper and opinion article published today. He warns that US organised crime policies have long been based on the myth of a highly organised and cohesive 'Mafia' threat, a myth successfully exported abroad and now evident in current Home Office strategies.
Read the opinion piece: A British FBI: a tough but not necessarily intelligent approach to organised crime
Read the policy paper: Organised crime, the mythology of the Mafia, and the American/Anglo Response
'One Nation': policy platform or empty slogan?
6 November 2012
At its heart 'One Nation' thinking is concerned with the relationship between rich and poor. But as Mark Garnett explains, Benjamin Disraeli's hope for a reconciliation between 'Two Nations' is very different from debates about contemporary inequalities. Thus while Ed Miliband's attempt to appropriate Conservative ideology and depict Labour as the real heir of One Nation thinking is courageous and cheeky, it is also risky.
Read the opinion piece: 'One Nation': policy platform or empty slogan?
New books: Governing post-war Britain and Wales since 1939
29 October 2012
In two new articles published today, historians Glen O'Hara and Martin Johnes discuss the challenges of researching and writing about post-war Britain. Glen O'Hara's Governing post-war Britain explores the changing relationships between government and the governed. Martin Johnes' Wales since 1939 explores the history of Wales both as a nation and also as a witness and participant to the events and changes that shaped the UK and the wider world in the twentieth century.
Miliband's 'One Nation': stealing the emperor's clothes?
17 October 2012
Miliband is hardly the first politician to try and steal another party's rhetoric, says Philip Begley, who finds that Margaret Thatcher toyed with the idea of 'Social Democracy'. However, Miliband's recent attempt is arguably the most audacious, he says, in a new H&P opinion piece.
Read the opinion piece: Miliband's 'One Nation': stealing the emperor's clothes?
History and Policy in Practice pilot course for King's postgraduates
H&P is offering history postgraduates at King's College London an unrivalled opportunity to engage with experienced policy makers, historians, civil society practitioners and journalists. History and Policy in Practice is a free, extra curricular course that experiments with novel modes of teaching and output, enabling up to 80 students to benefit from exposure to the realities of applying their historical studies to 'real world' issues in public life. The centerpiece is an expert workshop on Weds 7 November, with confirmed speakers including: former senior civil servant Sir John Chilcot, former No.10 policy adviser James O'Shaughnessy, Richard Bartholomew, Department for Education, Jill Rutter of the Daycare Trust and historians Pat Thane, Edgar Jones, Andrew Blick and Anthony Seldon.
For more information: please click here [pdf 753kb]
H&P historians give evidence to select committees
16 October 2012
Historians Pat Thane and Andrew Blick, both of the Institute of Contemporary British History at King's College London, today gave oral evidence to two select committees. Professor Thane appeared before the House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change. During her evidence she called for the introduction of a flexible retirement age and urged a more positive public and policy attitude towards older people. Andrew Blick appeared before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry into the foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland.
Click here to watch Pat Thane's evidence
The Union and the Constitution: it's complicated...
15 October 2012
In a new H&P paper, published as the UK Prime Minister and Scottish First Minister sign a deal on a Scottish independence referendum, Colin Kidd of St Andrews University calls for urgent constitutional reform. Professor Kidd explores the history of the 1707 Treaty of Union between Scotland and England and argues that its constitutional and legal implications are more complicated than a simple 'yes or no' referendum question would suggest. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, he argues, urgent constitutional clarification will be required.
Read Colin Kidd's paper: The Union and the Constitution
Read the press release
New H&P papers place current family policies in historical context
9 October 2012
Two new H&P papers published today provide valuable historical context for current family policies in England. John Welshman of Lancaster University reveals the long history of attempts by policymakers to identify, classify and intervene in the lives of 'troubled families' and their antecedents. John Stewart of Glasgow Caledonian University sheds light on current policy initiatives to support good parenting, with a discussion of the child guidance movement in Britain and the social construction of childhood. Both papers are based on presentations delivered at the Department for Education in autumn 2011. H&P's second series of AHRC-funded seminars with the Department begins this week. Click here for more details about this collaboration.
Read John Welshman's paper: 'Troubled families': the lessons of history, 1880-2012
Read John Stewart's paper: 'The dangerous age of childhood': child guidance in Britain c.1918-1955
Valuing Nature: inaugural meeting of the H&P Environment Forum
This event takes place on 16 November (2-5pm) at King's College London and is open to all historians interested in environmental history and to policy makers and shapers from government and civil society. Paul Warde, of UEA, and Peter Coates, of Bristol University, will lead the discussion, exploring how people have valued nature in different ways over time. What values have shaped policy in the past, and with what results? Why have particular indicators been developed and with what results? Places are free but limited. For more details and to reserve a place please click here [pdf 343kb]
'Yes ma'am': domestic workers and employment rights
28 September 2012
The employment rights of modern-day domestic servants are no better and often worse than those of their counterparts in the Downton Abbey era, Cambridge University historian Dr Lucy Delap reveals in a new H&P paper. Domestic workers in Britain are imagined to be empowered by modern social relationships, but the benefits of the twentieth-century transition to a more egalitarian and democratic society are not always clear for the significant numbers of au pairs, nannies and cleaners working in private homes today. The complex history of domestic service is also explored in a new BBC2 series starting today, Servants: the true story of life below stairs, which Lucy Delap advised on.
Read the paper: 'Yes ma'am': domestic workers and employment rights
History and Policy in Practice - new pilot for King's College London postgraduates
This autumn at King's College London, H&P offers postgraduates an unrivalled opportunity to engage with experienced policy makers, historians, civil society practitioners and journalists. History and Policy in Practice is a free, extra curricular course for postgraduates of history from any department at King's College London. It experiments with novel modes of teaching and output, enabling up to 80 students to benefit from exposure to the realities of applying their historical studies to 'real world' issues in public life. The centerpiece is an expert workshop bringing together senior historians, civil servants and journalists. For more information: please click here [pdf 753kb]
Making history matter in policy making and the media
21 September 2012
H&P hosts its first event at the Cambridge University alumni weekend on Friday, 21 September, from 4.15-5.15pm at Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick site, Cambridge University. This lively panel discussion will offer insiders' insights into the challenges and benefits of bringing history to bear on the current policy agenda, and the making of TV and radio documentaries. With extracts from award-winning BBC history programmes, panellists will reflect on the usefulness of academic history today and the extent to which broadcasters and policy makers can engage with it. Speakers include Chris Bowlby, BBC Radio, Rachel Fentem, HM Treasury, David Reynolds, Professor of International History, and Charles Keidan, Pears Foundation (Chair). Please note this event is open to Cambridge University alumni and their guests. For more information click here.
The rights and wrongs of the trade union movement: H&P at the TUC
11 September 2012
H&P's fringe event at the TUC in Brighton yesterday included a lively discussion of trade union rights in historical perspective. Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law at King's College London revealed that the Conservative-led governments of the 1930s actively pursued a strategy to further collective bargaining. Sarah Veale, Head of Equality and Employment Rights at the TUC, shared her fears about a government assault on trade union rights. John Monks, former TUC General Secretary, described how the movement has paid the price for its past hubris, and wasted opportunities to forge a new settlement during the Blair years. Historian Jim Moher explained how Britain led the world in forging trade union rights in the 19th century, but called on the movement to face up to its more recent mistakes. We are grateful to the People's History Museum for supporting this event.
Unison's John Gray has written a blog about the event, click here to read it
Read Jim Moher's H&P paper to find out about the history of trade union rights in Britain
To find out more about the H&P Trade Union Forum, see our flyer [pdf 125kb]
H&P to host fringe event at TUC Annual Congress
10 September 2012
H&P's groundbreaking Trade Union Forum is holding its first fringe event at the TUC Annual Congress in Brighton. We are delighted to welcome as speakers: Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary Designate, John Monks, former ETUC General Secretary, Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law, King's College London, and Jim Moher, former union official and historian. The panel will discuss 'Trade Union Rights: why is Britain always different - and always worse?'. The event takes place from 5.30-7.30pm on Monday 10 September, Syndicate Room 3 at the Brighton Centre. Places are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Non-delegates will need to bring photo ID and allow time to collect a visitor's credential in the entrance hall at the Brighton Centre. We are grateful to the People's History Museum for supporting this event.
For more information about the event click here [pdf 131kb]
To find out more about the Trade Union Forum, see our flyer [pdf 125kb]
H&P manager reveals failure to learn lessons from Equitable Life
7 September 2012
A new report by H&P co-manager Richard Roberts, of the Institute of Contemporary British History at King's College London, reveals how a 'this-time-is-different' syndrome prevented lessons being learned from the Equitable Life scandal. Published to mark the 250th anniversary of Equitable Life, Professor Roberts' shows that despite repeated inquiries, bankers and bank regulators did not take on board lessons that could have helped to moderate the financial crisis of 2007-08. He highlights a series of key policy lessons from Equitable, ending with a call to: 'study financial history'.
Read the report Did anyone learn anything from the Equitable Life? Lessons and learning from financial crises [pdf 553kb]
Read the press release and report summary [pdf 980kb]
Click here to see Equitable Life's chief executive, Chris Wiscarson, discussing the report on Sky News
Margaret Thatcher and the Joint Intelligence Committee
30 August 2012
In H&P's latest article for the Number 10 website, Ian B. Beesley, Official Historian in the Cabinet Office, and Michael S. Goodman, of the War Studies Department, King's College London, explore Margaret Thatcher's interest in intelligence gathering, from becoming the first Prime Minister to attend the Joint Intelligence Committee, to the fall-out from the surprise invasion of the Falkland Islands.
Read the article: Margaret Thatcher and the Joint Intelligence Committee
Click here to find out more about H&P's collaboration with Number 10 Downing Street
Superhumans or scroungers? Disability past and present
16 August 2012
In a new H&P opinion article published ahead of the London Paralympic Games, David M. Turner discusses definitions of ability and disability in sport, in the workplace and in wider society. He questions the obsession of policy makers, past and present, with assessing, medicalising and pigeon-holing people with disabilities.
Read the article: Superhumans or scroungers? Disability past and present
Prime Ministers and the Olympic Games
26 July 2012
In H&P's latest article for the No. 10 website, Plymouth University historian Kevin Jefferys discusses the changing relationship between Prime Ministers and the Olympic Games, from Herbert Asquith's hands-off approach to the 1908 London Games to David Cameron's hands-on approach today.
Read the article: Prime Ministers and the Olympic Games
Click here to find out more about H&P's collaboration with Number 10 Downing Street
Historian calls for urgent reinvigoration of post-Olympics sporting strategy
23 July 2012
H&P today teamed up with the Sports Think Tank for a breakfast discussion to launch a new H&P paper on sport policy and the Olympic legacy. Historian Kevin Jefferys, author of Sport and Politics in Modern Britain: the Road to 2012 (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), called on the government to seize the opportunity presented by the London Olympics to create a bold, innovative sporting strategy for the future. His co-panellists were sports author and journalist Mihir Bose and Sports Think Tank Director and former-MP Andy Reed, who chaired a lively discussion with an audience of sport policy makers and shapers.
Read the policy paper: On your marks... formulating sport policy and Britain's Olympic legacy
Read Kevin Jefferys' article on the Podium website
H&P at King's College London
2 July 2012
H&P is delighted to announce that from March 2013, the Public Affairs Office will have a permanent base at King's College London. After seven years of generous and far-sighted charitable funding from supporters including the Philanthropic Collaborative, Arcadia and, currently, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the job-share post of Public Affairs Manager and the H&P office will be supported jointly by the Institute of Contemporary British History and the Department of History at King's College London.
In addition, King's is now recruiting a Senior Lecturer/Reader in twentieth century British history who, along with teaching and research responsibilities, will provide intellectual leadership for H&P, managing the Public Affairs Office and working with H&P's partners in Cambridge and elsewhere. This post is expected to be filled in Autumn 2012, to start in early 2013.
These are very welcome developments, but H&P still needs to fundraise, as demand for our expertise continues to grow. In November 2011 we lost the post of public affairs officer due to lack of funding, halving the capacity of the H&P office. We continue to seek support for this post, and for:
- a history and policy fellowship programme, enabling historians and policy makers to experience each other's worlds and sharpening the understanding between them
- new teaching modules, training workshops and internships that combine historical research with policy needs, bringing on a new generation of engaged, professional historians
- H&P's groundbreaking Trade Union and Environment Forums, developing trust through long-term networking
- research into the processes and impacts of public engagement that H&P has pioneered
- a global history and policy programme, sharing our unique experience with similar initiatives inspired by H&P abroad
Old, tired and misunderstood? Challenging stereotypes about the 'ageing population'
29 June 2012
H&P co-founder Pat Thane's report, Demographic futures, for the British Academy, challenges the belief that an ageing population is imposing unprecedented economic burdens on society. By considering the demographic evidence of the 20th century, and unpicking how it has been misunderstood, Pat Thane highlights the complexity and diversity of older peoples' experiences - in terms of inequality, health, and their contributions to society. The findings have important and unexpected implications for policy makers.
Read the report Demographic futures
Challenging the myths about unmarried mothers, past and present
21 June 2012
In an exclusive article published today, H&P co-founder Pat Thane discusses a groundbreaking new book, co-authored with Tanya Evans, being launched tonight at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King's College London. Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried motherhood in twentieth century England challenges the stereotypes and myths prevalent in media and policy discussion about unmarried mothers, today and in the past. It also explores the relationship between the state and voluntary sectors, through the history of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child, now Gingerbread.
Read the H&P press release
Read Pat Thane's article
Read the book review in Times Higher Education
The Big Society Debate
19 June 2012
There is a long transatlantic intellectual history of ideas, akin to 'the Big Society', stretching back at least to Adam Smith. Today's 'Big Society' policies draw on institutions and activities that have a long history in Britain. To explore the implications of that history for civil society and welfare provision today, historians and social policy scholars have collaborated on a new book launched at LSE today.
Read Simon Szreter's reflections on co-editing The Big Society Debate: a New Agenda for Social Welfare?
Find out more about the: Big Society Debate at LSE
Making the past matter in today's policy making
13 June 2012
H&P is the first port of call for policy makers and shapers seeking historical input to their work. In our new policy engagement area we showcase our historians' activities in government departments, with select committees and civil society organisations. On 12 June, Andrew Blick, of the Institute of Contemporary British History, gave evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee about the history of special advisers in government. Plans are underway to continue the H&P seminar series in the Department for Education from September.
Watch Andrew Blick give evidence to the: Public Administration Select Committee (begins at 1:03)
Read the uncorrected transcript of Andrew Blick's evidence
Find out more about the: Department for Education seminar series
Science in the twentieth century and beyond
13 June 2012
Jon Agar's global history of science raises significant intellectual dilemmas not easily captured by historical case studies. Should the social sciences be included alongside the physical and life sciences? How to integrate national stories of scientific development into a global narrative of change? In answering such questions, Agar came to two conclusions with policy implications that historians can assist with.Find out more: Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond
The British people and the League of Nations: democracy, citizenship and internationalism
13 June 2012
Helen McCarthy considers the challenges of balancing foreign policy imperatives and democratic practices through the lens of the League of Nations Union (LNU). As one of the largest voluntary organisations of its time, the LNU promoted international cooperation, arguing that foreign affairs should be within the purview of all citizens. But as McCarthy's new book suggests, there are limitations to such campaigns when it comes to foreign policy.Find out more: The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, citizenship and internationalism c.1918-1945
Supporting active fatherhood in Britain
13 June 2012
A new H&P paper published today demolishes the myth that 'modern fathers', actively involved with their children, are a recent phenomenon. As the government launches a consultation on contact between separated parents and their children, Laura King of Warwick University warns that outdated stereotypes of parental roles continue to influence policy making and the application of legislation today.
Read Laura King's policy paper: Supporting active fatherhood in Britain
Read the press release on the Warwick University website
Queen Elizabeth and her Twelve Prime Ministers
1 June 2012riendliness not friendship was James Callaghan's perception of what the Queen provided to her Prime Ministers. In the latest article for the No. 10 Downing Street website, published today, D R Thorpe considers the different working relations between the Queen and successive Prime Ministers, from Churchill to Cameron, in her 60-year reign.
Read D R Thorpe's article: Queen Elizabeth and her Twelve Prime Ministers
British Queens on screen: the power of fictional image over factual text
1 June 2012
Steven Fielding considers the relationship between dramatizations of the lives of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II and Britons' notions of national identity - and the historical accuracy of such portrayals - in a new H&P opinion article.
Read Steven Fielding's article: Queen Victoria: the heart of a heartless political world
Heading for trouble? Tory backbench rebellions past and present
31 May 2012
The coalition government is now heading for territory notoriously controversial on the Conservative backbenches: House of Lords reform and gay marriage. In a new H&P opinion article, N. C. Fleming considers Tory rebels from the distant and recent past, and discusses what the future may hold for the current Prime Minister.
Read N. C. Fleming's article: Tory rebels: the inevitablity of backbench revolts
No. 10 under Lloyd George
25 May 2012
Kenneth O. Morgan considers the personal and the political in David Lloyd George's leadership of the Conservative-Liberal Coalition Government of 1916-1922. Published today on the No. 10 Downing Street website, this article is part of the monthly series arising from the H&P partnership with No. 10 to revitalize the history content of the Downing Street website.
Read the article
The Queen's speech in historical perspective
15 May 2012
History & Policy aims to demonstrate that historians have something to contribute to almost every public policy issue. For a historical perspective on the areas highlighted in last week's Queen's Speech, why not explore our archive of over 130 policy papers?
Banking reform: see Ranald Michie and Simon Mollan's paper, British and American banking in historical perspective: beware of false precedents
Supermarket regulation: see Jane Hamlett et al, Regulating UK supermarkets: an oral history perspective
The Energy Bill, see Paul Warde, Low carbon futures and high carbon pasts: policy challenges in historical perspective
Pensions reforms, see Noel Whiteside, In search of security: earnings-related pensions in Britain and Europe and Hugh Pemberton, Politics and pensions in postwar Britain
Local government reform, see Jerry White, From Herbert Morrison to command and control: the decline of local democracy
Social care, see Pat Thane's submission to the Health Select Committee [pdf 109kb]
Voter registration, see Kevin Jefferys, Two cheers for democracy: involvement and interest in British politics since 1918
Lords reform, see Jon Lawrence, What is to be done with the second chamber?
Communications Bill, see Toni Weller, The Victorian information age: nineteenth century answers to today's information policy questions
Britain and the Eurozone, see Richard Roberts, A stable currency in search of a stable Empire? The Austro-Hungarian experience of monetary Union
No Bill for gay marriage, see Jeffrey Weeks, Wolfenden and beyond: the remaking of homosexual history
Meet the history programmers
BBC Radio 4 producers will visit King's College London on 23 May (10.30-12) to meet H&P historians. This is a great opportunity to discover the logistics of The Long View, Things We Forgot to Remember and Document, and to discuss your research in an informal setting with senior producers. To reserve a place or for more information: click here
Maurice Hankey: 'supreme organiser and creative bureaucrat'
18 April 2012
Jock Gardner's new article for the No. 10 Downing Street website considers the role of military officer-turned-Cabinet Secretary, Maurice Hankey (1877-1963), architect of the Cabinet Office in modern British government. This article is the latest in a series arising from the partnership between H&P and No. 10 to revitalize the history content of the Downing Street website.
Read Jock Gardner's article: Maurice Hankey: architect of modern government
H&P historians in the news
18 April 2012
H&P historians have featured in local, national and international media this spring. From Luddism, monarchy, marriage and perpetual bonds, to Margaret Thatcher and Jim Callaghan, our historians' research has caught the eye of editors and contributed to public debate. That includes the veracity of Downton Abbey's portrayal of domestic servants and the hidden histories of second and third class passengers on the Titanic.
To see the coverage: click here
H&P's Trade Union Forum reports
23 March 2012
H&P's Trade Union Forum has published various reports of its meetings and those of relevant organisations, including the British Universities Industrial Relations Association History Study Group and Unions21.
For the Trade Union Forum meeting reports: click here
For other meeting reports: click here
Taking The Long View
16 March 2012
BBC Radio 4 will visit King's College London on 28 March to meet H&P historians and discover interesting research that might feature on The Long View. For more information: click here
Prime Ministers and Presidents: special relationships
14 March 2012
David Reynolds' new article for the No. 10 Downing Street website explores the personal dimensions of relations between British Prime Ministers and American Presidents, including Churchill and Roosevelt, Macmillan and Kennedy, and Thatcher and Reagan. The article - part of a monthly series by expert historians - arises from the new collaboration between H&P and the Prime Minister's Office, which is designed to bring to life the fascinating history behind the famous black door. As well as featuring in the official No. 10 newsletter, Reynolds' article is highlighted by the White House blog, as David Cameron visits the US.
Read David Reynolds' article: Prime Ministers and Presidents: special relationships
Read the White House blog: Preparing for an Official Visit from the United Kingdom