Looking for the Liberalism of the ‘left-behind’

by Peter Sloman

The British party system is a tough old beast, but as the UK prepares to head to the polls for its third major national vote in three years, there are signs that the tectonic plates of political identity are finally shifting. The Liberal Democrats have been quick to position themselves as the voice of disgruntled Remainers, but Peter Sloman points out that there has always been another side of the Liberal heritage -- the deep vein of liberal populism that has been the foundation of the party's support in Scotland, Wales, and the West Country. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats are to regain ground in the wake of the Brexit vote, they will need to reach beyond the cosmopolitan cities and find new ways of connecting with the provincial culture of the Celtic fringe.

Was David Cameron a ‘disjunctive’ Prime Minister?

by Peter Sloman

The aftershocks of the EU referendum are likely to provide political scientists with rich pickings for years to come. In a timely new article, Chris Byrne, Nick Randall and Kevin Theakston have drawn on Stephen Skowronek's typology of US presidential leadership to characterize David Cameron as a 'disjunctive' leader, presiding over the disintegration of the neoliberal settlement established by Margaret Thatcher. Yet with the impact of Brexit still uncertain and the Conservatives riding high in the polls, this approach is deeply problematic. Cameron is better seen (in Skowronek's terms) as an 'orthodox innovator', who successfully repackaged Thatcherism for a new generation but struggled to cope with the internal tensions which his modernization project created.