Tag Archives: policy

For the 100th time …

17 Mar

Hey people, bring out the bunting – this is my 100th blog … Now I know we shouldn’t get too excited, it’s not like it’s Christmas, or even the Queen’s Speech or the budget, but it might just be a call for celebration …

It’s not as if it’s been a mad rush or anything – I first blogged in 2012 – but it’s been something of a revelation.  When I first put blogging finger to keyboard, it was a kind of professional challenge.  After many years of writing for research and policy people, I thought I’d take matters into my own hands, and see what happened if I blogged about the things that interested me for a wider audience.  And I have had a lovely time ….

My background (as regular readers will know) is in stuff to do with gender and policy, and so I joined Mumsnet bloggers network and twitter, and began to publish.  I soon confirmed my suspicion that policy stuff could find readers beyond fellow professionals.  And so, I persisted. If I saw things that inspired me to write, and that I didn’t have an immediate outlet for at work, I’d blog.  And, you know, things just grew from there …. I have a whole load of links, followers and feedback that would never have happened if I hadn’t.

For my 100th blog I thought it would be good to reflect on what has been most popular.  There is, it seems to me, no formula for that: some blogs, you slave over the detail and they never make the mark; others that you write off the cuff work really well.  Sometimes you meet the news agenda to no great avail, others you reflect on something days or weeks later, and it’s a hit.  If I could identify the formula for guaranteed blogging success, I guess I’d be writing this blog from a tropical paradise, not somewhere in England …

When I looked up my Top 5 all-time most popular blogs, I could see elements they had in common.  Most importantly, they were promoted more widely than I could ever achieve alone – if you want an audience, find it through sympathetic hosts, and in online conversations.  Even if there’s a lot of crap out there, I’ve found a twitter community and a supportive platform – I’d like to think that anyone can.

And content-wise, my Top 5 taught me another lesson: for all that I’ve written over the past five years, the apple may not fall far from the tree.  My most popular post is Silicon Valley Chickens and Women’s Eggs – as a wonk married to someone geeky, how technology affects relationships has always been up for discussion ; at number 2, A Cabinet of  Curiosities is all about female representation in politics – a feature of much I’m engaged with professionally and personally; A Post-Truth Christmas Stocking is about the madness of 2016, which we wonks lived through with intensity; number four is Shared Parental Leave, all jacket no bike, including both the wisdom of one of my best friends, and the trouble with the model of shared parental leave we’ve gone for in the UK, which has figured large at work and at home; finally, number 5 is Out of kilt-er, my take on a poorly judged political broadcast in the last Indyref – Wonklifebalance is proudly Celtic ….

And so, I have concluded, your most popular blogs find you – I’ve written many others which looked fit for purpose, even hot to trot. But the very best – decided by readership – all have a wee bit of me inside them. Another lesson may be, that what goes around comes around: my very first blog was about the folly of a new yacht Britannia ….  Thanks everyone for reading, I’ll carry on writing too …. next up blogging 101 😉






Forever Autumn Statement (with apologies to Jeff Wayne et al)

23 Nov

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds might be much colder
When EU’s not here.

We watch the points track south across the autumn graphs

And one by one they disappear
We hope we won’t be tracking with them
When EU’s not here

With development funds EU came to support us
Like a loose counterfoil EU’s blown away

Through autumn’s gold spreadsheet we used to click our way
We always loved this time of year.
Those falling points may disturb now
Cause EU won’t be here

With development funds EU came to support us
Like a loose counterfoil EU’s blown away ….





15 Mar

In sections of the City there’s a word for people who work 9 to 5: they’re called ‘part-timers’.  Want to be rewarded and get home in time to see your kids? ‘Get a life’.  Well some of us (mainly women, surprise, surprise) do baulk at the long hours culture and go about creating a balance in a variety of ways: freelancing, downshifting, leaving work ‘temporarily’ – or, the holy grail, finding a ‘quality part-time job’.

A report out today, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and commissioned by Women Like Us, the recruitment enterprise specialising in part-time vacancies, shows just how difficult it remains to find part-time work reflecting moderate to high skill levels.  Only 3% of vacancies are part-time and pay above £20,000 full-time equivalent wages.  There is only 1 part-time vacancy paying above £20K for every 18 full-time posts.  In other words, part-time jobs on the open market are a synonym for ‘low-grade’.

And the truth is that most higher-grade part-time work is negotiated down: posts that were full-time until someone asked to be retained on reduced hours.  This comes as no surprise to anyone who stepped off the ladder and has tried to find part-time work afterwards.  The commitment issue is the most galling: ever sat in a job interview for a skilled post advertised as ‘part-time and flexible’ ‘with the option of homeworking’ only to meet a brick wall on negotiating hours in the office?  Less committed people would give up and sit moaning at home after they had been told for the nth time that they were the best candidate for the job, but flexibility is on our terms only. Give one person part-time office hours, next thing the whole team will want them.  Perish the thought.  Be the change you want to see is the mantra: it means fighting for every decent bit of work that can be negotiated around family commitments.

Wonklifebalance is the blog of a policy analyst who likes to combine work and family life – the real scandal is that this is so difficult to achieve, and exacts such a high price for trying.  They have a word for this too: it’s called ‘choice’.

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