I've contributed to some excellent politics-oriented blogging platforms that aim to (cliche alert) bridge the gap between the rarefied world of university academics and a general audience. Blogging regularly is hard work so I only contribute on occasions where I have genuine expertise.
Who Speaks for Europe? The UK referendum as a pan-European Affair
The Brexit debate greatly effects Europe yet commentary from EU figures and European heads of state has been surprisingly muted. Why is this so?
Why Florence is the perfect setting for Theresa May’s big Brexit speech 19 Sept 2017
A Brexit tip from Henry Kissinger: the UK urgently needs a vision for the future 17 Aug 2017
Swamped by facts, voters are still going into the EU referendum with an information deficit 18 May 2016
Expect a Referendum in June or July of this Year 13 January 2016
This piece proved prophetic!
Reposted on ESRC's UK in a Changing Europe site
Lessons for David Cameron from the 1975 EEC Referendum 5 June 2015
The 1975 episode does nevertheless offer some valuable lessons for the upcoming referendum. Primarily, it shows the many complications that face a government divided over Europe.
Reposted on British Influence
27 May 2015 How to Reform the EU? Win over Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel
EU reform is proceeding apace – but it seems David Cameron didn’t get the memo. The reform deal suddenly doing the rounds in Brussels is a Franco-German package to foster tighter co-operation within the eurozone, and Britain’s fingerprints are noticeably absent from it.
LSE EUROPP - The London School of Economics' outstanding European Politics and Public policy blog
20 May 2015
The myth of ‘self-government’ is threatening both the UK’s place in the EU and Scotland’s place in the Union
The UK government is expected to publish a draft bill on 28 May outlining a framework for the country’s referendum on EU membership. In this context, UK politics is now increasingly defined by two different kinds of ‘exceptionalism’: a push within the UK for self-government outside of the EU, and Scottish demands for self-government within the UK. He argues that while neither the breakup of the UK nor a Brexit is inevitable, if they do occur it will be because of misplaced belief in the nostrum of self-government. Read more
12 March 2015
The UK’s relationship with Europe is too complex to be settled by a simple ‘in/out’ referendum
A referendum on EU membership is increasingly seen by the British public as the best way to settle the vast number of political issues EU membership raises. A recent Chatham House/YouGov survey shows 60 per cent of Britons support the proposed popular vote to determine the country’s relationship with the EU. Unsurprisingly, political parties are also keen on the idea. David Cameron has promised an ‘in/out’ referendum if the Conservatives win the May General Election. The Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) would make hay with such a vote, while Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged that under his watch there would be “no transfer of powers” to the EU without an ‘in/out referendum’ – a repeat of a promise made in the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto. This policy convergence is nevertheless puzzling as the resort to direct democracy over the EU question is unlikely to resolve the UK’s relationship with European integration or prove particularly cathartic for British politics. Read more
This blog post was also translated into Spanish as 'La relación del Reino Unido con Europa es demasiado compleja para resolverse en un referéndum sobre la pertenencia a la UE' Available here
The Spitzenkandidaten process has ‘presidentialised’ the Commission, but only time will tell whether it allows for better representation of citizens’ views
10 September 2014
The makeup of the new European Commission was announced by Jean-Claude Juncker on 10 September. In this blog I discuss the constitutional implications of the so-called Spitzenkandidaten process for the new Commission’s role. He argues that the process could be understood as a parallel to the use of direct democracy in Switzerland or a directly elected President in the United States to grant citizens a more direct connection with fundamental constitutional change. However this form of ‘presidentialisation’ in the Commission’s case is unlikely to bring about ‘bottom up’ constitutional agency overnight, particularly given the indirect nature of Juncker’s appointment. Read more
Why Europe’s crises in the Eurozone and Crimea are a boon for those who teach European integration
25 March 2014
Europe has faced a series of crises in the last decade, most recently with the Eurozone crisis and the Russian intervention in Crimea. In this post I explain that while the practical implications of these crises can be worrying, they also provide opportunities for those responsible for teaching European integration to students. He argues that ultimately what EU crises teach us is that – for better or worse – we are all in this together. Read more
speri.comment The blog platform of Sheffield University's top-notch political economy research institute, SPERI
4 March 2014
In the aftermath of the crisis this new scholarly position in the debate about the EU has become an increasingly important strand of thinking.
There are many signs that the EU is a political system in crisis. The past few years have seen a succession of popular protests in Eurozone countries against the imposition of austerity, while political elites, especially in the UK, appear increasingly wary of supporting integration. These current troubles jar with the more academic textbook narrative of a smooth incremental progress towards ever-closer union. Read more
PSA Insight The blog platform of the Political Studies Association
Three Lessons from the Euro-zone: Why a Sterling Currency Area Will be a Financial Straightjacket
24 February 2014
When it comes to currency unions, David Cameron is certainly right on one point. A decision to share a currency is necessarily premised on multilateral negotiation, which is why such unions are so tricky to establish let alone to run. The travails of the Euro-zone illustrate precisely these difficulties. In fact, the story of the euro can be read as a set of lessons that will affect the options available in case voters in Scotland opt for independence. Read more
The Huffington Post UK
UKIP's Empty Rhetoric of Self-government
19 November 2013
British multi-millionaire Paul Sykes recently made the news by announcing that he would help bankroll UKIP's 2014 European parliamentary election campaign. His goal is for Britain "to get back to becoming a self-governing nation" by withdrawing from the EU. But what kind of policy autonomy is realistic for a medium-sized economic power? Self-government is a noble democratic principle with a long intellectual and political history. However, as a motivation for withdrawing from the EU it is a dangerous conceit about what the United Kingdom can actually decide for itself. If self-government is truly the goal, then UKIP and its main backer have to explain precisely what leaving the EU will achieve. Read more
MOOCs and the Liberal Arts: Threat or Opportunity
7 August 2013
Despite the ugly acronym, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are the talk of higher education today. Most of the debate centres on the quality of the free online courses with mega-enrolment figures offered by the likes of Coursera, Udacity, edX, FutureLearn, and OpenupEd. MOOCs elicit a double-edged fear: either that they are too dumbed-down to justify the hype or that they might be successful enough to revolutionise the whole sector. In the latter scenario, bricks and mortar universities reliant upon the large lecture hall are in for a rude shock. But if MOOCs do indeed transform the delivery of higher learning and knowledge what are the implications for the transmission of the liberal arts, namely the non-Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines? Read more
Changing the Tuition Fee Debate
11 September 2012
As freshers' week approaches students are likely to have others things on their mind besides tuition fees. Yet undergraduates embarking on a degree this academic year in England and Wales (as well as "rest of UK" students going to Scottish universities) will be obliged to take on an unprecedented amount of debt. Most of this will be used to pay tuition fees averaging around ₤8500 per year of study. This policy has sparked uproar but the political controversy risks obscuring a more practical question: how can today's freshers make the most of the costly education they will receive? Read more
European Futures (University of Edinburgh)
Why Brexit would make Scotland more dependent on Westminster
If the UK votes to the leave the EU, it will most likely establish a Swiss-style trade relationship to replace EU membership. Future UK governments would be unable to change this relationship unilaterally without risking retaliation, leaving Scotland more dependent on the UK government for good relations with the EU.