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Managing Politics? Good conduct and ethics regulation in English local government

Cowell, Richard John Westley ORCID:, Downe, James Daniel ORCID: and Morgan, Karen 2012. Managing Politics? Good conduct and ethics regulation in English local government. Presented at: XVI IRSPM 2012 - XVI Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM), University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy, 11-13 April 2012.

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In many countries, an important driver for concern about public values arises from falling trust in public institutions. One widely identified explanation has been the conduct of politicians, to which governments around the globe have responded by creating systems of ethics regulation and reform. This includes England, where measures instigated by the 2000 Local Government Act took a particularly centralised approach to improving conduct in local government, consisting of a standardised and formalised code of conduct with which councillors must comply, and machinery for exercising and adjudicating complaints against the code. This paper draws upon research which assesses the impact of this ethical regulation on the conduct of councillors, using insights from Foucauldian perspectives on government and critiques of government ‘modernisation’. As will be shown, the uneven effects of the framework can be interpreted from the extent to which the ‘technologies of power’ and ‘technologies of self’ have translated effectively into practices across local government. Our research found that resistance to ethics regulation often arose where councillors resisted the models of political identity and behaviour it was perceived to promote. Particular concentrations of complaints and misconduct were identified where councillors believe that recent changes in political management – including moves to cabinet executives under the auspices of ‘political modernisation’ – have caused a widespread loss of voice among elected representatives. The paper concludes with reflections on the near total abolition of the ethical framework in 2011 - itself the culmination of mounting resistance - and the extent to which political conduct can be managed by such practices of modernisation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 11:05

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