Policy Papers

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, 232 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 historyandpolicy@kcl.ac.uk.

You can download H&P policy papers directly from the Apple iBooks store to your iPhone, iPad or Mac. We also have an Amazon Kindle version to download to your PC for transfer to your Kindle via USB cable. Please consult your Kindle manual for further details.


‘Old Corruption’ revived? Lessons from the Past

Britain’s long and scandal-ridden struggle against ‘Old Corruption’, which prevailed for much of the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, is instructive in the light of recent scandals concerning public appointments and public contracts.

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A National Social Care Service beyond COVID-19: Lessons from the History of Mental Health Social Work and the Origins of the NHS

The curative model of health influenced the development of mental health services during the first years of the NHS and therefore social care came to be viewed as supporting clinical services and was only peripherally involved in the planning of health services. Clinical services had their ‘1948 moment’, but social work did not, experiencing only gradual and piecemeal reform.

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The Contending Allies: What the Trade Unions and the Labour Party can learn from the experiences of their predecessors between the Wars

The relationship between the Labour Party and the trades union movement has often been tense in the past. But interwar political history of Britain illustrates the dangers to Labour of losing touch with the unions, as well as pointing to how effective working relations might be maintained.

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Vaccine Hesitancy and ‘BAME’ Populations

Public health authorities need to understand the specific reasons for ‘vaccine hesitancy’ among BAME communities – but they should also not ignore public health measures that have worked historically in building the high levels of trust in vaccination currently enjoyed in the United Kingdom.

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The West needs to appreciate how the protest movement in Belarus has been shaped by the Soviet past

Any engagement strategies on the part of the West in the current crisis in Belarus must take into account the lasting importance of Soviet legacy in shaping contemporary social and political attitudes there.

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The virtues of decentralisation for health services in crisis

The experience of health provision during the Second World War suggests that proper decentralisation is a virtue in the development of service capacity and state building. The desire of the centre to control everything results in extended lines of communication and inapposite top-down solutions.

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How medieval revolts help us understand modern mass protest

The out-dated notion of the "madness of crowds" persists in modern commentary on protest. Historians working on the People of 1381 project show how investigating historic protestors and their motives can strengthen policy and policing response today.

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‘Adapting the machine’: welfare policy after World War One and Covid-19

Public sympathy put pressure on politicians of the 1920s and 1930s to make exceptional provision for veteran disability welfare – could the same be true of social policy more widely in the post-Covid world, asks Michael Robinson.

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Florence Nightingale’s Public Health Act, Covid-19 and the empowerment of local government

The nation's health turned a corner in the 1870s thanks to public health measures campaigned for by Nightingale, and implemented by well-financed Local Authorities. Hugh Small argues that it is this, rather than her hospital practice, that should inform our response to the pandemic.

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The historical case for a federative Britain

England and Scotland as independent sovereign nations within a federative union? Kirsteen M. MacKenzie explores a possible seventeenth-century model.

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About Us


H&P is based at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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