Exciting politics events at Canterbury Christ Church University in autumn 2017

The Politics and International Relations Programme is excited to invite you to three events with exciting and distinguished speakers coming to Canterbury Christ Church University this autumn. All events are open to the public and free to attend (N.B.: booking is required for the lectures by Professor A.C. Grayling and The Rt Hon John Bercow).

If you cannot make it, both the lecture by Professor A.C. Grayling and the event with Rosie Duffield MP will be live-streamed via our Facebook Page facebook.com/PoliticsandIRatCCCU/ and later made available on our YouTube channel. You can also follow us for updates on Twitter @CCCUPoliticsIR and @CCCUCEFEUS.

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CCCU Politics Staff lead discussions on federalism in Myanmar

Dr Soeren Keil, Reader in Politics and IR, and PhD Candidate Paul Anderson have recently spent just over two weeks in Myanmar leading discussions on debates on federalism. Working with a number of international organisations, including the Hanns Seidel Foundation and Democracy Reporting International, as well as a number of local organisations, Paul and Soeren, alongside other international experts, led and facilitated a number of discussions on the multifaceted topic of federalism, a key pillar of Myanmar’s peace process.

In the first week, Paul and Soeren spent five days with the Union Civil Service Board, working on the topic ‘Federalism and Decentralisation’. This course, part of the Civil Service’s wider training programme for executive civil servants, introduced the participants to the topic of federalism and decentralisation, as well as more detailed and Myanmar context specific discussions. Senior Civil servants learned about a variety of aspects of federal political systems and participated in a number of presentations which applied this theoretical knowledge to the case of Myanmar.

The second and third workshops, held in Taunggyi, Shan State, and Yangon, continued debates on federalism, but this time included MPs, members of the ethnic armed organisations, civil society actors and political party activists. Joined by other international experts, these discussions focused on a number of key topics in Myanmar, such as ‘self-determination and secession’, ‘constitutional amendment procedures’ and ‘dispute resolution mechanisms’.

Despite having debated federalism for over two weeks, the federalism fun continues. On Sunday 13 August, CCCU’s politics summer school ‘Federalism, Multinationalism and the Future of Europe’ will kick off, with the participation of a number of students from a range of countries including France, Germany, Myanmar, Nepal, the USA and the UK. The summer school, now in its fifth edition at CCCU, will feature lectures from a range of international scholars covering both theoretical and empirical topics, as well as a field trip to the Houses of Parliament. On the same day (13 August), Dr Soeren Keil will speak in the Myanmar Parliament as part of a wider expert consultation on Myanmar’s transition process. This event is organised by the government of Myanmar and Soeren has been requested an international expert on federalism.

Strong Canterbury Christ Church University Presence at 2017 IPSA Colloquium on ‘Democratisation and Constitutional Design in Divided Societies’

CCCU’s Politics and International Relations team was strongly represented at the 2017 IPSA Colloquium held in Nicosia, Cyprus, from 24-27 June, with participation from senior academic staff and PhD candidates.

The conference brought together three International Political Science Association (IPSA) research committees (13, 14 and 28) to examine the challenges of designing democratic institutions in divided societies. The papers presented at the conference scrutinised the role of different factors (e.g. ethnicity, political institutions, nationalism, gender, efficacy of multi-level governance, the intersection between peace and democratic stability) in fostering democratisation in the context of regional and global integration.

Paul Anderson, Simon Bransden and Soeren Keil (from left to right)

In his capacity as an active member of the IPSA Research Committee 28 ‘Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance’, CCCU’s Dr Soeren Keil chaired the panel on ‘Institutional Design in Divided Societies: Kosovo in Comparative Perspective’. Drawing from his research on institutional design in post-conflict societies with a special focus on federalism and state-building in the Western Balkans, Dr Keil moderated the discussion during the panel and provided valuable insights for the panellists by placing the content of the panel related to decentralisation, democratisation and ethnic cleavages in a broader comparative perspective.

 

Dr Keil also organised the panel ‘Policy Issues in Divided Societies’ which included two papers from CCCU Ph.D Candidates Paul Anderson and Simon Bransden, and a co-authored paper between Soeren Keil and Jelena Džankić (European University Institute, Florence). This panel focused on a number of policy issues, including Citizenship Policy and constitutional politics.

Building on his extensive research on the Western Balkans, Dr Keil presented a paper titled ‘The Ties that (Never) Bind – Citizenship in the Socialist Yugoslavia and its Federal Successor States’. This paper explores the continuity and change in citizenship policies in federal states created as a result of state disintegration. The authors argue that disintegrative processes cause new federal states to model their legislation after that of the old state while at the same time state-creation and re-articulation of ident

ities demand a modification of the rules for inclusion and exclusion, so that they can reflect new political realities and relationships among communities constituting the state.

CCCU’s Simon Bransden presented the outline of the first paper he intends to write drawing from his recently defended Ph.D. Thesis, in a paper entitled ‘Process, Dynamics and Instrumentalities in the UK/EU Brexit Crisis after May 2015’. The paper examines the way that the EU tried to accommodate the UK’s demands in key areas of free movement of people, state sovereignty, and economic independence, whilst respecting fundamental principles of European integration. He concluded that while the package offered to UK elites was acceptable, the UK’s electorate rejected the offer.

Paul Anderson, presented on an important and timely issue in a paper entitled, ”Too little, too late?’: Brexit and the Constitutional Future of Scotland and the United Kingdom’. Here Paul examines the potential constitutional and territorial implications of leaving the European Union, and asks whether Scottish Labour’s recent conversion to federalism offers an alternative constitutional vision for Scotland. Paul’s analysis drew from a number of interviews carried out in February and March 2017 with MPs and MSPs from all five major parties in Scotland, and demonstrated that while for most federalism was considered as theoretically attractive, most pro-independence supporters believed it ‘too little, too late’, while most pro-Unionists saw it as a worthwhile yet challenging endeavour. Paul concludes that Scottish independence is not an inevitable consequence of Brexit, but the decision to leave the EU has resulted in yet more (irreparable) cracks in the UK’s once strong and stable constitutional edifice.

Overall, the participation of CCCU at the IPSA Colloquium in Nicosia highlights the variety and importance of research that is undertaken in Politics and International Relations. The panel organised by Dr Keil was highly regarded by other scholars attending the conference and further demonstrates CCCU’s growing strength in the area of comparative federalism, minority rights and conflict resolution. In this context it is also worth mentioning that the cutting-edge research presented at the conference and the exchange with other leading researchers will feed into ongoing CCCU projects. For example, Michael Siegner, Research Assistant at CCCU with a focus on federalism as a tool for conflict resolution, also took part in the conference and will be able to utilise the insights gained for his collaboration with Dr Keil in relation to providing academic advice to stakeholders in the peace process of Myanmar which is inextricably linked to federal reforms. This underlines CCCU’s strong commitment to impact oriented research.

With four participants in the conference, CCCU was one of the most represented institutions at the IPSA Colloquium, thereby demonstrating the growing international profile of our staff and PhD researchers. Funding for the participation at the conference was kindly provided by the Politics and International Studies Research Excellence Fund.

CCCU fires up the democratic engine with a Canterbury parliamentary hustings

By Elizabeth Bailey CEFEUS Communications Manager

On the 26th of May Canterbury Christ Church University had the pleasure of hosting a Parliamentary Hustings for the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency candidates. Candidates from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Green party attended. We had a full house, with people even queuing out the door just to have a chance to listen to, and pose question to the candidates. A big thank you to those who sponsored this event, including: Ethnic minority independent council, CANDIFA, The Canterbury society, CDCD and Making politics matter. Also thank you to  Sian Pettman and Richard Norman for all their effort to make this possible.

Following introductions from Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Weed and Dr David Bates, Director of the Politics and International Relations programme at CCCU, there was a minute silence for all those affected by the Manchester attack earlier in the week.

Dr Amelia Hadfield, Director of the Centre for European Studies (CEFEUS) and Chair in European Foreign Affairs chaired the event, giving the four candidates two minutes to introduce themselves and a short plea as to why they should be voted in. Labour’s Rosie Duffield began by outlining that “Canterbury is not Conservative” and promising to scrap tuition fees, which was followed swiftly by a loud heckle, and an even swifter removal of the heckler.

Lib Dem candidate James Flanagan offered his apologies for any leaflets that people had received that showed him with doodles on. “My kids graffitied my election leaflets” he said, admitting this was an unusual beginning for a potential MP but one that got the audience laughing. Moving on to more pressing, issues James stated that “We promise a second vote on Brexit, Tories will only give you a second vote on Fox hunting”. Conservative candidate Julian Brazier got right to the point by stating that “I will fight for our country, for the best outcome in the Brexit negotiations”, which produced multiple heckles from the audience. Lastly, the Green candidate Henry Stanton was passionate in discussing local issues like homelessness and pollution, ending with “A vote for me is a vote for somebody fighting for Canterbury”.

With the candidates ready to go and the audience fired up, Dr Hadfield launched in the questions, which came from a variety of sources. Some questions were submitted by Canterbury residents via email, some by twitter using the hashtag #CCCUHustings17, others on Facebook, while others had posted questions during the preceding reception into the submission box. Lastly, Dr Hadfield took questions from the audience. The questions themselves covered a broad range of issues, including education, health care, climate change, homelessness, and of course Brexit topics including security and migration. International topics also included Syria.

Audience participation is of course part and parcel of any good hustings event; at this event however, one candidate in particular was the recipient of rather more audience participation than the others. Conservative candidate Julian Brazier remained very much at the mercy of the crowd in his various replies, receiving ‘boos’ in with every answer. When asked for example about his prospective support of LGBTQ+ community, Sir Julian spoke about how voting against same-sex adoption “was always based on what is best for children” which needless to say went down poorly with the audience. In contrast, the other candidates pledged their support for same-sex adoption and the LGBTQ+ community. A subsequent question on grammar schools put by students attending as part of Canterbury Academy triggered further passionate responses from the audience. Labour, Lib Dem and Green again closed ranks in discussing the stress put on children who fail the 11 Plus test, and refused to endorse grammar schools. The Conservative candidate however set himself apart by disagreeing with the overall approach to grammars. This split was particularly evident when the topic of NHS funding, and the local issue of the potential closure of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital was raised. Here, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens appeared united in singling out Julian for failing to make this local priority a national issue. Green candidate Henry Stanton for instance pointed out that Julian has raised a number of questions on the floor of the House of Commons, but never about issues regarding the Kent and Canterbury hospital, making it difficult to believe that it is “top priority”, as claimed. Perhaps the largest applause of the evening was given to Rosie Duffield when she stated in response to the tricky issue of negotiation that “conflict resolution requires talking to people you don’t agree with”.

With a lively audience and fierce debates, time flew by and before long candidates were asked one final question: to define their top priorities, but in only 10 seconds. These are as follows: Labour’s Rosie Duffield: “Hospital, EU citizen rights abolish bedroom tax”. Lib Dem’s James Flanagan: “Hospital, NHS, remain in the EU”. Conservative Julian Brazier: “Fight for Canterbury locally, nationally-informed foreign policy”. Green’s Henry Stanton: “Canterbury Hospital”.

The combination of a lively audience, tough questions and responsive candidates produced a successful hustings, one that left those in attendance with a clear understanding of all the candidates, and why they should (or shouldn’t!) vote for them. Whoever wins this hard-fought seat should remember that the members of this constituency stand ready to grill them again at the next hustings.

If you were quick enough to have found a seat on Friday, thank you for attending and for your participation. However, for those who could not attend, or would like to revisit the moment, you can watch the hustings by clicking on the following link:

If you would like to read more about this event there are also a number of articles from local papers, featuring the event, and also General Election observations made by 3 of our own CCCU students:

GE2017 candidates for Canterbury and Whitstable debate at CCCU

On Friday, 26 May, the Politics and International Relations Programme at Canterbury Christ Church University co-hosted a hustings with the candidates for the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency. In front of a packed audience, the four candidates debated diverse range of issues, including Brexit, healthcare, immigration, environmental protection and traffic policy, with many questions having been submitted previously by interested citizens.

All those who missed the event (or attended and want to relive it) can now watch a recording on Youtube:

The UK general election will be held on 8 June 2017. Watch this space for analysis and commentary from our expert staff. Check out our CCCU Election Experts Hub and see what expertise we have to offer.