Mayors Going Global: The Curious Case of Brexit

Max Stafford is a PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations at Canterbury Christ Church University. His doctoral research looks at the leadership of mayors in London, New York City and Amsterdam.

It is not new, these days, to talk of mayors and the irony of their playing a role in global issues, despite being local leaders. These issues include climate change, migration and security. However, within the context of the UK, mayors are also managing to play a vital role in the foreign policy issue of the day – Brexit. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, mayors’ increasing strategic involvement with issues previously assumed to be reserved to national or global-level policymaking raises the well-rehearsed concept of place-based leadership and its future in relation to local political leaders. But who are these mayors and what are they actually doing about Brexit?

  The most vocal mayor on this topic so far has been the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Though only early in his first term (having been elected in May 2016), Khan has put effort into casting his mayoralty in an internationalist perspective. Faced with an opponent (Conservative, Zac Goldsmith) whose campaign was the recipient of allegations of “dog-whistle” politics and racism, Khan spent much of his 2016 campaign talking about both the diversity of the city that he aimed to lead and also his own heritage as the child of immigrants. After the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, he sought to remind both London and the rest of the UK (as well as his European counterparts) that the city was a key player in the global economy.

London mayor Sadiq Khan in the European Parliament | image via europarl.europa.eu

Continue reading “Mayors Going Global: The Curious Case of Brexit”

Advertisements

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.

Mayors & Terrorist Attacks: The Quiet Advance of Place-Based Leadership

Max Stafford is a PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations at Canterbury Christ Church University. His doctoral research looks at the leadership of mayors in London, New York City and Amsterdam.

London mayor Sadiq Khan with a member of the London Metropolitan Police | photo via london.gov.uk

London. Manchester. New York. Boston. Nice. Each of these cities is world-famous for a variety of reasons – from their importance to the global economy to their exhibiting of richly-diverse cultures. They have also, as with many other cities around the world, experienced the horror of recent terror attacks perpetrated against their citizens, attracting global attention. These attacks are summarised in the table below. It is interesting to reflect, however, as we approach the first anniversary of the Nice attack on the 14th July, on what the responses to these incidents have revealed about the importance of place-based leadership.

Each of the cities selected for this post had a mayor at the time of the relevant incident (though Manchester’s mayoralty had only been in existence for 18 days) and each played a pivotal role in the civic and political reaction to them. From Giuliani’s appearance with the New York Fire Department at the site of the World Trade Centre in the days following the attack through to Sadiq Khan’s standing alongside the British Home Secretary in post-attack vigils in Trafalgar Square, each mayor quickly became the public face of their city’s response. In Giuliani’s case, it led to his being named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2001. But what does the prominence of these figures in the response to these incidents, and the public and media’s reception of them, tell us about the state of political leadership?

We often think of terrorism as a national political issue in terms of where the policy initiatives and leadership to tackle it originate from, in line with other matters of security. Of course, in each case the relevant national leaders did provide immediate statements on the tragedies and played their roles in helping to co-ordinate the response, including through addressing the wider national mood. However, it was the leaders of these cities, these places, who became the “face” of their communities’ reactions. Given that each of these attacks garnered an array of international attention, due to a combination of their occurring in places of economic and cultural significance and also due to captivating the global 24-hour news cycles in the days that followed, their local leaders soon received a huge spike in their public profiles.

So, Andy Burnham, despite only having been elected earlier in the same month as the attack, became the face of the political and civic reaction in Manchester. Philippe Pradal was also a new mayor at the time of his city’s tragedy, but was soon well-known beyond either Nice or, indeed, France. Khan became further entrenched as the globally-identifiable leader of London (with a combination of the terror incidents and, earlier, his pro-Remain strategic corollary to Brexit).

Menino was, by contrast with Burnham, Pradal and Khan, a long-standing mayor (being into his fifth term at the time of the Boston Marathon bombing). Nevertheless, a combination of the fact that the incident’s fallout lasted for nearly a week and also that other major global cities (for instance, London) were soon to hold marathons meant that Menino’s reassuring persona and sense of a capable approach to crisis management received a focus heightened beyond that which they perhaps otherwise would have attracted. Giuliani and Livingstone were, similarly, established mayors (having served 7 and 5 years, respectively, at the time of the atrocities). Livingstone’s association with place had already been furthered just a day earlier by the announcement (in Singapore) that the 2012 Olympics were to be hosted by London.

Thus, leaders who were elected to hold office at the local level (albeit in major cities) often find themselves imbued with greater national and international significance due to their association with the place that they lead. This place-based leadership both enhances their profiles beyond their immediate constituencies and also adds new dimensions to their roles (through their assumption of influence in policy areas that were not originally envisaged as being within their competence). Additionally, the locations covered by their political mandate experience a similar level of growth in the wider recognition that they receive by virtue of their association with the leader.

This particular place-based leadership is, then, formed of a symbiotic relationship. Place enhances a leader’s immediate profile (and with it, potentially, their political capital) and the leader subsequently ensures that their city’s response to atrocities such as terrorism receives greater public attention than it might otherwise have done.

What remains consistent between all of these case studies (where so much else about them is varied and circumstantial) is the importance of understanding the centrality of place in determining the leadership response. With other examples of this important relationship to be discovered in place-based approaches to climate change, migration, international crime and many other interest areas, it seems that this under-estimated aspect of leadership seems set to remain intriguing for a long time to come.

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.

Taking Back Control – From whom and to what end?

Dr Laura Cashman

Last week I attended a play at the Marlowe Theatre billed as a “post-Brexit satire about what it’s like to be treated as a foreigner in your own land”.

Octopus may have been a dystopian fantasy when writer and producer Asfaneh Grey conceived the play but a year after the EU Referendum, it feels far too close to reality for comfort. The sharpness of the script and the talent of the actresses evoked the dark humour, fear and sadness which permeate the discussions I’ve been having with EU migrants and British citizens, who worry about what our post-Brexit future has in store for us all.

Continue reading “Taking Back Control – From whom and to what end?”