I have a paper just published in ‘Comparative Politics’. Get your ‘official’ copy via IngentaConnect or your ‘unofficial’ copy via SSRN.
Here’s the abstract:
Why did a highly redistributive, nationalized health care system emerge in the UK, where the Left was comparatively weak, while a more redistributively neutral, cash-centric, insurance-based system was pursued in Sweden, where the Left was strong? The explanation is two fold. First, in contrast to the Swedish Social Democrats, the weakness of the British Labour Party constrained it to pursue redistribution via health policy. Second, given the redistributive goals of the National Health Service, it became imperative for the Labour Party to construct a system that would be difficult for future Conservative governments to retrench. More generally, this formulation posits rational actors operating in the kinds of processes typically studied by historical institutionalists. The result is a tendency for a type of path dependence by design.
I have a post up on the Oxford/Cambridge Politics In Spires group blog where I propose a way of reforming the House of Lords.
In brief, the idea is that abstentions should count as ‘votes’ for an Appointments Commission list. The result, I think, would be a chamber that was directly elected, broadly representative, deliberative and populated with ‘experts’, as well as clearly subordinate to the House of Commons. What’s not to like?
See Getting the House in Order: brainstorming a novel approach to Lords reform for more details.
I now have a related post on this at LibDemVoice. Commenters seem opposed, but not for good reasons.
I’ve (finally) had a paper accepted for publication. It’s a re-worked dissertation chapter, now entitled “Partisan Strategy and Path Dependence: The Post-War Emergence of Health Systems in the UK and Sweden“.
I argue that the UK got the statist and centralised National Health Service it did immediately after the Second World War because Bevan felt that this would prove more difficult for “the vandals opposite”, in the form of the Tories, to undo. This was important because the NHS was a significant mechanism for redistribution.
I contrast this with the the Swedish Social Democrats’ explicit rejection of an NHS model and subsequent pursuit of a more cash-centric insurance design. Such a model was both less redistributive and (potentially) more malleable for future governments. I argue that they took this course as they were able to rely on redistribution in other areas – notably centralised wage-bargaining – making health policy less politically divisive.
I need to make some minor revisions before publication, but a very recent draft is available via SSRN. The paper has been accepted at Comparative Politics.