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A Game of Two Halves - Institute for Government

A Game of Two Halves - Institute for Government

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Published by Mark Pack

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Published by: Mark Pack on Jun 18, 2012
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A game of two halves:how coalition governments renewin mid-term and last the full term
 Akash Paun and Stuart Hallifax
2 3
All governments tend to run out o steam in mid-term. The energy and momentum romtheir initial ormation disappears as governing turns out to be more diicult than wasexpected, at least by ministers, i not by worldly-wise civil servants. Governing partieslose popularity, in both the polls and at local elections; they make mistakes which areseized upon by an increasingly critical media; and underlying personal tensions suracein bickering and actionalism. These are not just political issues. They are about how torenew eective government so as to ensure that diicult problems are tackled and radicalchanges implemented.These dilemmas o government renewal are even more acute in the case o Coalitions,like the Conservative/Liberal Democratic administration now. This is largely new territoryin Westminster and Whitehall where politicians, civil servants and commentators areall going through a learning process. But what is new or them is amiliar in many otherwestern democracies.A Game o Two Halves puts the challenges acing British politicians and civil servants inan international context: looking at how renewal has been tackled in other Coalitions. Anumber o the practices adopted by coalition governments overseas should be consideredhere, not just mid-term stocktakes but also in the negotiation and creation o the originalprogrammes or government to permit greater lexibility later in their lie.The report continues a major strand o the Institute or Government’s work. This started in2009 with a report on government transitions, co-authored by Dr Catherine Haddon andmysel, and a joint publication with the Constitution Unit on the impact a hung parliamentwould have on Westminster and Whitehall. Our work in this area continued ater theelection, with a report on the lessons learnt rom the 2010 transition, and Akash Paun’sexamination o the unctioning o the Coalition in its irst ew months (United We Stand?).The latter proved to be highly inluential and led, ater initial Whitehall reluctance, to astrengthening o support or the Liberal Democrats in government.Akash Paun, with support rom Stuart Halliax, outlines the case or renewal o theCoalition now; examines the options, notably or policymaking, as the Coalition partnersseek to dierentiate themselves; and looks towards the next general election. There is notonly the unknowable question o whether the Coalition will hold together until May 2015but also the tricky issue o how the parties and the Civil Service prepare in very dierentcircumstances rom 2010. This aects the Opposition as much as the current two Coalitionpartners. The transition in 2015 could be as challenging, and possibly more controversial,than in 2010, as Akash Paun makes clear in his thought provoking inal chapter.
Peter Riddell
Director, Institute or Government
4 5
About the authors
Akash Paun
is a senior researcher at the Institute or Government, where he has led anumber o projects on the challenges o coalition government. In 2009 he co-authoreda report assessing the implications or Westminster and Whitehall o a hung parliament,and in 2010 he wrote a report assessing the irst ew months under the Coalition. He hasalso worked on projects exploring the role o select committees in public appointments,the diiculties aced by Whitehall in working across departmental boundaries, and themechanisms used by political parties to select parliamentary candidates. He previouslyworked at the Constitution Unit, University College London.
Stuart Hallifax
worked at the Institute or Government rom September 2011 to May2012, where he was involved in work on Civil Service reorm as well as on the six-monthresearch project leading to this report. He holds a DPhil rom Oxord University on civilianexperiences o the First World War in Britain and previously worked as a curator at theNational Army Museum.
The authors would like to thank a number o colleagues or their support during the writingo this report and the research that preceded it. Peter Riddell, in particular, providedintellectual guidance and helped deine the scope o the project, as well as editing theinal drat. Julian McCrae and Nadine Smith provided useul comments on drats andrecommendations. We have also drawn on research conducted by others at the Institute,notably Catherine Haddon, Peter Riddell and Justine Stephen. Finally, we are grateul toAndrew Murphy and William Knighton or their invaluable help in bringing this report topublication.We are also hugely grateul to all the busy people in Westminster, Whitehall andgovernments elsewhere in the world or sparing their time to share their experience andadvice. Some o these are cited by name in the pages that ollow, but many others mustremain anonymous. This report could not have happened without their contribution.Cover images rom STEFAN WERMUTH/AP/PA and rom the oicial photostream o thePrime Minister o the United Kingdom, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.As ever, the authors bear responsibility or any errors and inaccuracies.
About the authors 3Acknowledgements 3Executive summary 41. Introduction 102. What’s different about Coalition government? 123. Mid-term policy renewal: options and constraints 164. Reshuffles and machinery of government change 345. Renewing while differentiating: what works? 396. The final straight: governing up till the next election 52Notes 63

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