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Prof Iain McLean
Role : Official Fellow in Politics
Job Title : Senior Research Fellow
Academic Group : Politics
College Group : Politics
University Department : Politics and International Relations
Research Interests : Applications of rational choice theory to politicians, bureaucrats and voters. Apportionment and redistribution. UK politics.
Telephone : +44(0)1865 278646
Nuffield College
New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom


Biographical Sketch

Iain was born in Edinburgh and went to school there. He came to England for the first time as a student at Oxford where he obtained his MA, M.Phil and D.Phil. He has worked at the Universities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Warwick, and Oxford, and has held visiting professorships at Washington & Lee, Stanford, Yale, and the Australian National University. He has been an elected councillor on Tyne & Wear County Council (committee chair) and Oxford City Council (group leader). For many years he has been a volunteer on one of the Welsh narrow-gauge steam railways, the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway, where he has done most jobs including locomotive driver. Other hobbies include mountain walking and choral singing. He has held various posts within Witney Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). In recent years he has principally worked on UK public policy.

Research Interests

Public policy, especially UK. Specialisms in devolution; spatial issues in taxation and public expenditure; electoral systems; constitutional reform; church and state.

The Union (of the United Kingdom) since 1707. Rational-choice approaches to political history

History of formal political thought and social choice since medieval times

Social science in the Enlightenment: Adam Smith, Condorcet, Jefferson.
Disasters and government responses, especially Aberfan (21 October 1966)
Current Research Interests:
Church and State: The Constitutional Relationship in the Nations of the UK and State of the USA.

Alternatives to the Barnett Formula
Joint work with ippr (Institute of Public Policy Research). To explore alternatives to the current arrangements for block grant from the UK exchequer to the regions and nations of the United Kingdom; Parliamentary representation under asymmetric devolution - possible answers to the 'West Lothian Question'.
What's Wrong with the British Constitution
A wide-ranging (in time and space) study of UK constitutional reform, paying special attention to the Union of 1707 and the almost total neglect of its constitutional implications in, and for, England. The intellectual bankruptcy of the Diceyan doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty; some possible alternatives. Possible reforms to church establishment and to the position of head of state.

For full list see CV.


AYDELOT9.SAVEnhanced Aydelotte Dataset

seton004.xlsThe code to run a small-n election by the "Seton rule"

A program to implement the Condorcet and Borda rules in a small.pdfA program to implement the Condorcet and Borda rules in a small.pdf

The Aberfan disaster (21.10.1966)

On the 21 October 1966, 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed when a tip of coal waste slid onto the village of Aberfan in South Wales.
These pages were initially set up as part of a project to catalogue and conserve an archive of material relating to the disaster held at Merthyr Tydfil and Dowlais libraries. Their objective is to act as a starting place for those interested in finding out about the disaster. They provide an overview of the circumstances surrounding the disaster and, more importantly, a guide and link to the more detailed sources of information available elsewhere.

Errata for 'Rational Choice & British Politics'

Errata for Rational Choice and British Politics.pdfErrata for tables 4.8, 7.3 and 7.5

Evidence to UK government departments & enquiries

The Whitehall Project

First working paper from the Gwilym Gibbon Centre for Public Policy – Nationalists at Westminster: Ireland and Scotland a century apart

​Iain McLean (Director of the Gwilym Gibbon Centre for Public Policy and Nuffield Senior Research Fellow) and ​Jim Gallagher (Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow, and Nuffield Associate Member) have written the Centre’s first working paper, entitled “Nationalists at Westminster: Ireland and Scotland a century apart.” (PDF)

The SNP may play a decisive role in the nature or direction of the next UK government. This pamphlet explores the origins, meaning and implications of this development, but also argues that the UK has been here before: from 1874 until 1910, a block of Irish nationalist MPs held (in Parnell's words) ‘a knife to the throat of Westminster’.

Recent Publications/Articles

​I. McLean, G. Lodge and J. Gallagher. Scotland's Choices: The referendum and what happens after it. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2013.

M. Balinski, R. Johnston, I. McLean and H.P. Young, Drawing a New Constituency Map for the United Kingdom: the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010. London: British Academy Policy Centre 2010.

S. Hix, R. Johnston and I. McLean. Choosing an Electoral System. London: British Academy Policy Centre 2010.

I. McLean, What's Wrong with the British Constitution? Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010. Joint Winner, W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association of the UK for the best book in political science published during 2010. 2nd revised edition 2012.

I. McLean, Adam Smith, Radical and Egulitarian: an Interpretation for the 21st Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 2006.

I. McLean and C. Jennings ed., Applying the Dismal Science: When Economists Give Advice to Governments. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005.

I. McLean and A. McMillan, State of the Union: unionism and the alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707. Oxford; Oxford University Press 2005. Winner, W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association of the UK for the best book in political science published during 2005.

I. McLean, The Fiscal Crisis of the United Kingdom. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2005.

I. McLean and B. Linsley, The Church of England and the States of the USA: reforming establishment for a multi-faith Britain. London: New Politics Network 2004.

F. McGillivray, I. McLean, R. Pahre, and C. Schonhardt-Bailey, International Trade and Political Institutions instituting trade in the long nineteenth century. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2001.

I. McLean, Rational Choice & British Politics: an analysis of rhetoric and maniupulation from Peel to Blair. Oxford University Press.

I. McLean and M. Johnes, Aberfan: government and disasters  Cardiff: Welsh Academic Press 2000.

For full list see CV.

'Scotland's Choice' Nuffield Society Seminar

​​Please find Iain's presentation from Nuffield Society seminar on Saturday 20th September, discussing the outcome and impact of the Scottish referendum. 

Fiscal responsibility and fiscal fantasy2.pptxFiscal responsibility and fiscal fantasy2.pptx

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