British academy

Ending the Party: The Practitioner’s Perspective

Tuesday 9 July 2013, 6pm to 7.30pm
Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH



In this evening event, Professor Tony Travers of the LSE, a leading commentator on UK public finances, is in conversation with Rachel Lomax, who has long experience of managing fiscal squeezes over a forty-year career, including many years in HM Treasury as well as other leading roles in UK government and the World Bank.

The discussion is organised around three themes:

  • Then and now: how today’s fiscal squeezes compare to those of three or four decades ago, what is constant and what has changed, for example in the institutional memory of executive government, the relative positions of finance ministries and central banks and of civil servants relative to ministers
  • Here and there: how fiscal squeeze plays out in different places, and what if anything can be learnt across countries and cultures; the role of international bodies such as the IMF, the World Bank and the EU institutions, their interactions with political and bureaucratic interlocutors and what experience they can transmit from one country to another
  • Politics and economics: how the political logic of blame-avoidance rubs up against ‘good governance’ logic in fiscal squeeze, how politics shapes fiscal squeezes (for example in ‘scorched earth’ approaches or the laying of political traps for opposition parties), the political role of ‘econocrats’ and their remarkable capacity to escape blame, and the extent to which expert quangos can effectively challenge elected politicians.


Rachel Lomax is an economist with long and varied experience of policy making. She was a Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee between 2003 and 2008. Previously she was a top civil servant, who headed three Government departments, Transport, Work and Pensions and Wales. Her earlier career included spells as Chief of Staff to the President of the World Bank and as Head of the Economic and Domestic Secretariat at the Cabinet Office. She was Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, in the mid 1980s and a Treasury economist during the 1970s and early 1980s.

She now serves on the boards of a number of financial and non-financial companies, Including HSBC and Heathrow Airport.

Tony Travers is Director of LSE London, a research centre at the London School of Economics. He is also a Visiting Professor in the LSE’s Government Department. His key research interests include local and regional government and public service reform.

He is currently an advisor to the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee and the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. He has published a number of books on cities and government, including Failure in British Government, The Politics of the Poll Tax (with David Butler and Andrew Adonis), Paying for Health, Education and Housing: How does the Centre Pull the Purse Strings (with Howard Glennerster and John Hills) and The Politics of London: Governing the Ungovernable City.


This event was held in connection with the British Academy Conference on "When the Party's Over: The Politics of Fiscal Squeeze in Perspective", 9-10 July 2013.