History & Policy papers are written by expert historians, based on peer-reviewed research. They offer historical insights into current policy issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change and internet surveillance to family dynamics, alcohol consumption and health reforms. For historians interested in submitting a paper, please see the editorial guidelines.
Currently, 169 papers are freely searchable by theme, author or keyword, with new papers published regularly. Where possible, we publish papers to coincide with relevant policy developments. If you are a policy maker, civil society practitioner or journalist and would like to contact one of our historians, please contact email@example.com.
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Until the 1970s British press coverage of child sexual abuse was ‘scanty, timid and evasive’. This failure to treat abuse as a serious problem has changed. But according to Dr Adrian Bingham, of Sheffield University, elements of this earlier journalistic culture remain today.
Across the twentieth century, poor coordination among social workers, welfare charities and doctors meant that most child sexual abuse was undetected. When cases did come to light, the response was often inadequate. While the situation has changed, Dr Lucy Delap argues that some past practices and beliefs remain, risking child safety today.
Why were the courts and police so slow to act on child sexual abuse? Dr Louise Jackson, of the University of Edinburgh, reviews the twentieth century criminal justice system in England and Wales.
Policy makers planning a pension scheme for victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles could learn from the mistakes of a similar system for conflict-related injury in 1920s Ireland, argues Dr Marie Coleman of Queen’s University Belfast.
Contrary to Eurosceptic opinion today, the UK did not stumble blindly into the EEC in 1973, nor vote to stay on a false prospectus, argues Dr Adrian Williamson, who considers lessons from the country’s original engagement with Europe.
The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is an opportunity to enrich constitutional debates today argues Dr Andrew Blick, who challenges misconceptions about English and UK constitutional history.
The Great Irish Famine of the 1840s and the twentieth-century Irish financial crisis might seem worlds apart. But they share key macroeconomic policies that exacerbated the respective economic situations, according to Charles Read, of Cambridge University. Using the macroeconomic concept the ‘trilemma’, Read compares decisions taken during the famine and the recent financial crisis to understand what went wrong – and offer lessons for policy makers today, particularly in countries considering joining a currency union.
Policy makers should recognise the vital contribution of migrant medics to Britain's healthcare system and support them, argues Dr Julian Simpson, of Manchester University. Since 1948 the NHS has been dependent on overseas-trained doctors who fill jobs vacated by emigrating British medics.
Ageism and the repeat failure of governments to match rhetoric with resources for mental health services for older people means provision today is patchy and under-funded, argues psychiatrist and historian, Dr Claire Hilton. And this despite recognition dating back to the 1940s of the needs and benefits of treatment.
Debate in the 1970s about London’s third airport offers interesting parallels for today’s policy makers grappling with the need to increase airport capacity. Like ‘Boris Island,’ the proposed Thames estuary airport, Maplin Sands, was abandoned in 1974. Dr Duncan Needham, of Cambridge University, considers the many factors in this decision and suggests that the solution today may be hiding in plain sight.
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