Colin Talbot, Prospect Magazine

Colin Talbot

Prospect Magazine

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Past articles by Colin:

Labour and Brexit: the party does the splits

Amid fresh conference drama it is hard to decide what's worse: what was done or the way it was done → Read More

Assume that Johnson is set on no deal—how do MPs stop him?

There are ways for parliament to halt the PM but they are fast disappearing → Read More

Brexit, parliament and the four-body problem

The impact of the referendum could change the fundamental structure of our parliamentary democracy → Read More

The most likely Brexit outcome is Norway

The UK is entering a period of great uncertainty and constitutional, legal and political upheaval. The big immediate question is what will come out of the House of Commons debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal (which is actually one very detailed withdrawal deal and one set of vague aspirations for the future in the accompanying “political declaration”). What might happen? To work that out you… → Read More

Winter is coming: but could Theresa May really call—and win—a December election?

There's a myth that Labour suffers in winter elections. → Read More

The Conservative Party must adapt or die

Traditionally their great strength, the ability to adapt has deserted the Tories altogether → Read More

Labour conference and the Brexit dark arts

The leadership has avoided commitment to a second referendum → Read More

Calm down, a snap election remains only the faintest possibility

In interviews over the weekend Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell reiterated that Labour wants a general election to resolve the Brexit impasse. Would it? Could it? Since the introduction of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2011, calling an early general election has gotten a whole lot more complicated. I’ve tried to summarise the process in a little flow-chart pasted below this piece. There are… → Read More

No one has noticed this important provision in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act

The prime minister in 2020 will have to set up a review committee → Read More

Matters of confidence: How prime ministers lost one of the biggest weapons in their parliamentary arsenal

Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images Today started with reports that Downing Street had “let it be known” that Theresa May would make votes on the Customs Union a matter of “confidence.” The implication seemed to be that if she lost she would call a general election. By mid-morning officials had rowed back. Making votes in parliament a matter of “confidence” in the… → Read More


University-based public policy blog sites are growing in number in the UK. Why? Partly, this is obviously driven by the so-called “impact” agenda – Universities proving the worth of their research to funding agencies, Government, the media and the public. Impact on public policy is an important part of “impact”. So why blog sites? A University public policy blogsite offers two huge advantages.… → Read More

Blogging as academic public policy engagement – a personal journey (Part 1 – 2009-2013)

Almost a decade ago, in 2009, I decided to experiment with blogging as a way of engaging with public policy and management debates. It wasn’t easy. I was an academic employed by Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. I said I wanted to start a blog. They said – no you can’t. I asked why? They said, first we don’t know how to and second we don’t want you freelancing and possibly… → Read More

Universal Credit: chronicle of a death fortold

This blog post was first published on Nov 11, 2010, in reaction to the Universal Credit 'White Paper'. It's normal to say "I hate to say it ....". I don't hate to say it - I was right. Welfare Reform: it’s the implementation, stupid It has entered popular mythology that in the 1992 US Presidential election… → Read More

The Soft Brexit Solution Struggling to get out?

There is a majprity in Parliament - in both Houses - for some form the 'soft' Brexit. The question is, can it get out? Let's be clear - the Brexiteers are right about one thing: the majoirty of MPs stood on manifestos committing us to leaving the EU. But they did commit themselves to any… → Read More

Grenfell: How to investigate what happened

[Republished with permission from] ------ Andrew Blackie was an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) operations inspector from 2007 to 2017. Here he outlines various options for how to investigate what took place at Grenfell. By Andrew Blackie There has been a lot of discussion about how the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire should… → Read More

Passport to Remain – how would the UK process residency rights for 3 million EU27 nationals?

Settling the position of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU is at the top of the agenda for the Brexit talks that have just started. Good. Let’s assume, as everyone seems to be saying, that a generous settlement is reached which allows all of them to stay where they are… → Read More

Grenfell Tower | The Public Investigator on

For almost four decades, we have been taught to see public spending as a bad thing; ruthless economising as a virtue. We have come to know the price of everything and the value of nothing…and have ended with the funeral pyre of Grenfell Tower. Three days after the night of Wednesday 14 June, I still haven’t written anything about Grenfell Tower. I’ve been trying to process the tragedy… → Read More

Why did Grenfell Happen? It’s probably simple, and complicated.

There are two answers to the above question – one simple and one much more complex. We don’t know the full answers to either yet, but we know more or less what the questions and areas of uncertaint… → Read More

Grenfell – we need an ‘Air Accident’ type investigation, now

The utterly appalling sight of our fellow citizens being burnt alive, trapped in a tall building, naturally fills all of us with deep sorrow, and for many anger to. How could this happen? There are two sort of questions that need examining. The first, and by far the most urgent, is how did this happen… → Read More

The Struggle is in the Streets: the Corbyn/McDonnell Insurgency Strategy After the Election

On Sunday I tweeted this: Guess what happens today? Crystal ball? No, just understanding the mindset of Bennite (Corbyn) and Trotskyist (McDonnell) politicos. → Read More