Thursday, July 31, 2014

Political theory & public policy

Political theorists can offer invaluable insights for policymakers. This may be surprising – and strike some readers as an oxymoron: what could sound, evidence-based policy gain from theorists? The answer is three things. First, political theorists can provide conceptual clarity. Their craft is to probe such questions further: what does it mean to ‘restore’ and what precisely is restored through restorative justice? Secondly, political theorists bring perspective. It can be easy for policy analysts to work in a disciplinary vacuum and fail to take stock of the larger picture. Political theorists specialise in the ability to connect abstract ideas to reality such as bringing together sentencing theory with its practice. Finally, political theorists are especially sensitive to theoretical consistency and its application. This can lead to some unexpected results, such as the idea that if restorative justice is about restoring offenders to law-abiding citizenship, then why should prisons or other forms of hard treatment never be considered where they could enable restoration? Criminal justice policy is one of many areas where political theorists can and should contribute to the policymaking process. The question should not be whether political theory matters, but rather which political theorists should be engaged.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On "Crime: How to Solve It"

British television presenter Nick Ross has published recently an engaging work, Crime: How to Solve It, which I've reviewed for Progress (a Labour Party-affiliated political group) here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Immigration to an independent Scotland - fact sheet

. . . can be found in my latest Durham Law School briefing available HERE. It attempts to clarify the known knowns, known unknowns...and unknown unknowns.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Customs at Gretna Green? Neither side is telling the whole truth on this one

. . . is my latest piece for The Conversation - here focusing on the implications for immigration law and policy if Scotland votes for independence. The essay can be found here.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Paper-hungry courts to go on a digital diet

. . . piece found here remains as true now as when published originally.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Labour to support devolved hubs

Today we see the news that the Labour Party will transferring greater powers - and money - to English cities creating new hubs (see here). I'm delighted by this - and called for a shift in this direction in my submission to Your Britain, the Labour Party's policy consultation.

Devolution has created certain problems, but also presents new opportunities. Devolution has worked well in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While voters in England (by far the most populated part of the UK) have shown no appetite for an English Parliament or regional assemblies, the idea of devolving greater powers to hubs harnessing the talents and potential of metropolitan areas can allow greater enterprise without added costs - nor a new layer of bureaucracy.

Now let's hope Labour wins the 2015 General Election to put these plans into practice...