Adapted from an image by s1n on Unsplash.

This article is a personal view. Although I work for a health charity, this is just my opinion.

At the end of October, I wrote an article attempting to answer the question: when will we get back to normal? My answer was, in short: well into the second half of 2021, at the earliest — and even an attempted move back to ‘normal’ then might be premature. …


Image by s1n on Unsplash.

This article is a personal view. Although I work for a health charity, this is just my opinion.

Now that we have ‘tiers’ of restrictions on what daily behaviour is permissible, political debate appears to be going through a phase of fixation on when different areas will leave their current tier for a lower one. On one level this seems extraordinary: the direction of travel is for more areas to move up the tiers, as the new wave of the pandemic continues to escalate. …


Photo by Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 on Flickr, reproduced under Creative Commons licence BY-ND 2.0.

Back in 2017, I outlined nine ways in which Theresa May could leave office. Now that she is in the process of going, it’s time to revisit that article and see which one ended up being her exit route. To recap, here are the original nine:

1) Illness and/or death 2) Planned resignation and handover 3) Loss of a formal vote of confidence among Conservative MPs 4) Loss of confidence among the Cabinet 5) Loss of the confidence of the House of Commons 6) Defeat in a general election 7) Loss of a referendum 8) Some novel reason 9) Collapse…


Adapted from a photo by Unimasimage on Flickr, under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0.

One of my favourite things about this little blog of odds and ends relating to politics that I’ve put up over the years is the regular fluctuation of traffic to this post. Specifically, it gets many more views in term-time…

Well, sorry to any visiting undergraduates: rather than a teaching aide or genuine academic exercise, that article was instead a slightly smart-alec way to pass comment on the result of the 2016 referendum. But it’s an interesting thought exercise: what might university exams of the future ask undergraduates to consider about our current, monumental events? …


Adapted from a photo by Robert Mandel, under Creative Commons licence CC BY 4.0.

There are lots of complex reasons for our current national crisis.

But here’s one way of looking at it. Not the only way, a comprehensive way, or the best way, necessarily. But one way.

Three political sagas have shown that it is possible to tell blatant lies to the British public and succeed in obtaining your objective. Each has involved lies more brazen, and consequences more grave (domestically, anyway), than the last. It seems very likely that people who wish to tell lies to the public for their own ends (or maybe even, in some cases, out of a genuine…


Image adapted from a photograph by Defence Images on Flickr under licence CC BY SA 2.0, and available for reuse under the same.

This is a follow-up, of sorts, to my article outlining the nine ways in which Theresa May might leave office. It looks in more detail at one option in particular: losing the confidence of the House of Commons. And in fact I want to argue that this now looks pretty unlikely as her exit route, largely thanks to a widespread misunderstanding of some recent constitutional change — namely the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011.

Let’s not leave the subtext unspoken: the prompt for this is Brexit. If Mrs May brings a withdrawal agreement back to the House of Commons for…


Photo by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency on Flickr, reproduced under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0.

Introduction
In a post just before Christmas, I identified multiple possible processes for Theresa May’s exit from Downing Street, but only two likely ones for an undignified exit in the near term: a confidence vote among Conservative MPs; and a collapse of the Cabinet in response to some external crisis.

Speculation currently abounds that a confidence vote among Conservative MPs could soon be triggered by the submission of 48 letters to Sir Graham Brady MP, the Chair of the 1922 Committee. The first thing to observe here is that this does not mean that a leadership crisis for the Conservatives…


Adapted from an image by Natalie Oxford under CC BY 4.0 licence and available for reuse under the same.

It’s too tempting to try to summarise a year’s events neatly: it was a good year, a bad year, a tumultuous year… You can always make a case for all of those verdicts or more if you marshal your evidence carefully — lots of things happen around the world over the span of twelve months, after all.

It might be more feasible, however, to use the year’s events as a lens through which to view, say, the state and character of an institution or country — although its state or character may well have developed over much longer than a…


The way into, and out of, 10 Downing Street. From its official Flickr account, under licence CC BY 2.0.

Process matters. Just ask Jeremy Corbyn — without the change from an electoral college to one member one vote, it’s doubtful he could have won the leadership of the Labour Party. For that matter, ask the MPs who ‘loaned’ him their nomination to get on the ballot and then protested their regret at playing fast and loose with a process that was intended to keep fringe candidates out of such contests. Without those processes and how politicians chose to operate them, would Labour have achieved the same general election showing as it managed in 2017? If not, would it have…


Introduction This post breaks a loose rule I have of not writing here about policy issues that directly relate to my work. But it’s a sufficiently broad issue, and also sufficiently important, that it’s worth setting it out. In real life I see often otherwise switched-on, politically alert people talking about the supposed ‘privatisation’ of the NHS, and this line is even increasingly taken by mainstream opposition politicians (something that I and other professional policy types find greatly dispiriting). This post outlines why this conspiracy theory is both incorrect and also deeply unhelpful — there are abundant Bad Things going…

John Kell

Working in public policy and writing here about politics, infrequently, in a purely personal capacity.

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