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About Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is professor of public policy & director of the Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath, and former director of the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Articles by Nick Pearce

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

A peculiarly British nationalism? – book review

Labour’s attitudes to nationalism, Britain’s changing role in the global economy: myths of left and right are punctured in David Edgerton’s magnificent The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth Century History.

Ulster and Brexit, a return of Britain's violent history

Brexiteers’ apparent willingness to cut loose the Northern Irish peace process reflects a historic world view that hasn’t advanced much since the English Civil War.

The UK’s Industrial Strategy needs to be more than repackaged pet projects

In the light of Brexit, can a new coalition of social class and territorial interests mobilise to deliver a meaningful industrial strategy? This week, the government published its Industrial Strate...

Who is voting to leave the EU and why?

Demographic data tell an interesting story about Britain's EU referendum.

After Brexit: the Eurosceptic vision of an Anglosphere future

Eurosceptics fantasies about an alliance of the Anglosphere may be implausible, but they show the need for a positive vision.

Dusting off the Sangatte playbook: a humane, practical course of action in Calais

Increased security at Calais might prevent migrants risking life and limb to get to the UK, but it will not deal with the migrants currently living rough in the Pas de Calais, nor the wider problem of refugee and migrant flows into the EU.

In every crisis, an opportunity: How minority government could pave the way to a realignment of British party politics

Britain’s political future will be determined by which parties can turn the crisis of the established party system into an opportunity for realignment, just as they did 100 years ago.

Greater Manchester: the beginning of Devo-more for England

The announcement of the unique devolution deal for the city represents the opening of a major new front in the English devolution debate, and a model that other areas will certainly want to follow.

Scotland's will to power – and why 'Britishness' was never enough

If Scotland votes 'Yes' next week, recrimination will be surely followed by deep, profound changes to rUK’s political system.

How Snowden, surveillance and Scotland are nudging the UK towards deep constitutional reform

As Britain approaches the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, and an election year, A new Magna Carta? tests the arguments for and against a written constitution.

Unnecessary suffering

We now have a benefit sanctions regime that is bureaucratised, depersonalised and excessive, causing widespread unnecessary suffering. Human relations have been stripped out of public administration.

Politics as a vocation in a post-democratic age

A lecture first given at Warwick University on how we should think about political leadership in contemporary democracies, against a background of declining participation in representative democracy, increased concentrations of economic and political power, and challenges to public bureaucracies.

What should social democrats believe?

Nick Pearce argues for social democrats to revisit their fundamental values, drawing on the intellectual resources of relational egalitarian, realist and republican thinking to chart a new course for their egalitarian ambitions.

Miliband's speech on welfare in Britain opened up new political space

With Labour's move, the shape of Britain's welfare state is clearly entering a period of fundamental realignment.

Is there any austerity in the UK?

The Coalition is not cutting the deficit, while many on the right argue that spending is rising. So what's the real picture? The director of centre-left think tank IPPR gives his analysis on whether there is really austerity in Britain.

Thatcher's lessons for social democrats

Thatcher utilised three emergent themes: globalisation, social liberalism and the reconfiguration of class structure. She used the spirits of the age to drive her own key project - unfettered markets. There is plenty the left could learn here.

The optimistic agonist: an interview with Bonnie Honig

The political theorist Bonnie Honig talks to IPPR's Juncture about the roots of her thinking, the radical and positive potential of political contestation and the importance of ‘public things’ in a vibrant democracy.

Why the British left must engage with Europe

Labour needs to re-think its position on Europe. Time to blow off the dust from Tom Nairn's unparalleled 1972 essay on Britain and what was then an infant EU.

Two cheers for the petite bourgeoisie

It's a class with few friends in Britain: dismissed by the left, and sidelined by liberals and conservatives chasing big business. But with the surge in self-employment, the state needs to recognise that the needs and demands of the petite bourgeoisie may be growing.

Welfare debate marks opportunity to renew Beveridge’s legacy

Why has Britain's welfare state lost the popularity it once enjoyed? How can it regain this role and where does Labour fit in?

The Great Moving Right Show (reprise)

Despite the mutation of the 'New Right' from Thatcherism to its contemporary variants, the ideas within remain an influential force in British politics. The parliamentary reshuffle might not mark the dawn of a new political era but the movements  of ‘The Free Enterprise Group’ are worth serious attention. 

Bubbling up: is there strife ahead for UK homeowners?

Proclamations as to the stability of the UK housing market overlook worrying discrepencies between household debt and income. With statistics suggesting that prices are being motivated by forces outside of those fundamental to the housing market, there is clear evidence that the UK is sitting on a bubble. 

Cameron plays politics with Britain's welfare system, can Labour respond with policies?

Britain's Prime Minister has just launched a headline catching speech on welfare reform driven by the need for cuts, justified in terms of fairness and the virtues of self-reliance, and aiming to cash in on prejudice. What it needs now is principled opposition.

The struggle against child poverty: an analysis of Labour's legacy

Last week saw the publication of the UK’s child poverty statistics – significant for indicating the performance of Labour in meeting their target to ‘half child poverty in Britain by 2010’. Nick Pearce, Director of the IPPR provides his analysis of the data and suggestions of the way forward. 

All over Europe: from Pirates to Le Pen

We are not arriving at a moment of choice between socialism and barbarism. Nonetheless, centre ground parties will repeatedly fail unless they can offer new solutions to the economic problems Europe faces. And there are new political players asking if updates are available for this system.

Beyond tax-and-spend: revising social democracy for a new age

The director of Britain's leading progressive think-tank sets out his vision for a transformation of social democracy that could renew its credibility and appeal for a new generation.

Margaret Hodge, the Mandarinate and the black hole of accountability at the heart of Whitehall

In a context of increasing tensions between Whitehall and Westminster, greater distinctions need to be made between the responsibilities of Ministers and officials. British democracy will suffer if we don't stop the culture of passing the buck.

The national question and the greatest living English poet

Can Englishness be articulated to a progressive project? Perhaps its time to turn to Geoffrey Hill, a poet immersed in the complexities and richness of England.

Orthodoxy is wrong: it can pay to default

In the 1990s, Argentina was an IMF poster boy, but it soon became a byword for the failures of the Washington Consensus. Tying its currency to the dollar, cutting public spending and selling its assets led to a deepening debt spiral from which it could not escape, until it defaulted.

Lib Dem tax policies - egalitarian?

The junior partner in the Coalition have been keen to show in their conference this week that their tax policies will deliver a more equal Britain. But are they really progressive?

From the expenses scandal to AV: the end of a political cycle and how to move on

The expenses scandal brought forth various demands for political reform. The AV referendum can be seen as the end of this political cycle. Even if electoral reform is now off the agenda, progressives should reflect on this experience, and begin a new push for change

'The prince as wolf, the beast as king'

The left may need to tap into rooted feelings and communal, human traditions but it needs to tread carefully or become an animal itself.

The Prime Minister's reorganisation of 10 Downing Street is flawed

When Gordon Brown was Britain's Prime Minister Nick Pearce headed his Policy Unit in No 10. Now he casts an experienced eye over David Cameron's attempts to guide the Coalition's governing strategy

The politics of stagflation and the 'squeezed-middle' debate

Yesterday's shocking figures for GDP in the last quarter of 2010 have changed the dynamics of British politics. The so-called 'squeezed middle' debate has only just begun and now sits at the heart of the politics of stagflation.

Is the Coalition government truly radical?

We must question the assertion that the Coalition government is a radical administration, on a par with the 1945 Attlee and 1979 Thatcher governments. That judgment can only be made retrospectively, in view of the legacy the Con-Dems leave behind.
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