Theresa is not a leader

There has been lots of broad criticism of Theresa May’s leadership style in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, very little of it digs into which leadership qualities she lacks:

Any leader is defined by their capabilities and the context in which they act. Some excellent leaders can be derailed by an unfortunate change in circumstances. Equally, some poor leaders are able to fly under the radar through periods of relative stability. Until this week, Theresa May appeared to be the former; now it is almost certain that she is the latter – a limited leader whose personal foibles have been exposed by the collapse of political order…

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Why you won’t be buying a driverless car any time soon

A great invention they might be, but excitement won’t buy you a driverless car. As always, the political barriers have been overlooked.

In a time of squeezed living standards where increased government borrowing and privately-funded infrastructure have fallen out of favour, it is likely that revolutionary changes to global infrastructure will be opposed from all quarters. Driverless cars could be run off the road.

But perhaps more importantly, there is a real human dimension to this story, lost behind the giddy squeals of tech nerds:

…driverless cars pose existential questions for several important interest groups. By some accounts, there are 10m Americans employed in industries related to driving…

Consider the introduction of autonomous school buses. It would not be practical to roll out autonomous buses across the board instantly – even in the fastest of revolutions, things can be staggered. So imagine the fear and outrage of those parents whose children go first into the driverless death machine. With nothing less than a well-orchestrated campaign, moments like this could easily spiral out of control, halting the entire process.

It is both frustrating and deeply unsurprising that policy makers have failed to recognise any of these obstacles. But just because Zuckerberg and Musk say it’s cool doesn’t make it good policy.

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Female Prime Minister, Male Advisers

For those of you who think Theresa May stands for women: government special advisers are now more likely to be male and earn, on average, more than under David Cameron:

The proportion of female special advisers has declined significantly

The number of women employed as special advisers has decreased since Theresa May took office. Between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of female spads hovered around 35-40%, hitting 38% in December 2015. In December 2016, this number had fallen to 28%, the steepest decline since 2010. The decline in female spads is most pronounced in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2015, 44% of the Prime Minister’s spads were women; in 2016 this fell to 28%.

Finish the article on Institute for Government.

Working Classes: Forgotten Again

Fast Stream applications rising but representation of the working class remains woefully poor. What is particularly striking is that the representation of non-Oxbridge students, ethnic minorities, disabled people and women has improved markedly since the year 2000. The working classes, it seems, have been forgotten:

Ethnic minorities, non-Oxbridge and working class backgrounds are less likely to be appointed to the Fast Stream.

Balance of applications and appointments

In terms of the diversity of applicants and appointees:

  • Gender: The ratio of men to women has fluctuated around 50:50 since the early 2000s, though women were slightly less likely to be appointed in 2015.
  • Disability: Historically, the Fast Stream represents disabilities well – 9.4% of applicants and 9.6% of appointees had a disability in 2015, but the ratio has been declining since 2011 when 4.7% of applicants and 14.7% of appointees were disabled.
  • Ethnic minorities: The Fast Stream has work to do. In 2015, 21% of candidates but only 15% of appointments were ethnic minorities.
  • University: In 2015, candidates with a degree from Oxford or Cambridge made up 9% of applicants but received 20% of appointments. This has improved since 1998 when 10% of applications and 35% of appointments were Oxbridge.
  • Socio-economic background: The Fast Stream performs worst on access for candidates from a lower socio-economic (working class) background: in 2015, only 7% of applicants and 4% of appointees had parents who worked in routine or manual work, compared with 70% and 80% for those whose parents worked in senior managerial, administrative or professional occupations. Following the Bridge Report in February 2016, the government committed to improving socio-economic representation, which led to the introduction of a new situational judgement test in the autumn 2016 application process. It is hoped that poor and ethnic minority applicants will benefit from this.

Finish the article on the Institute for Government