In Conversation with John McDonnell 5th November 2015, 6.30pm 

Labour Shadow Chancellor and Birkbeck alumnus John McDonnell will be speaking at Birkbeck on November the 5th. He will draw on his long career and experience of more than 18 years in Parliament to speak about his politics and current plans before opening up to a Q and A session with staff and students. This will be a unique opportunity to hear from one of the most important new figures in the Labour party and British politics.

Admission is free but it is necessary to reserve a place at

cameron worried

Birkbeck Politics Department’s Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos contributed to a debate in the Guardian on the EU:

The European parliament’s directly elected members wield significant powers, ranging from shaping the EU’s budget to the appointment of the European commission, as well as the content and scope of EU legislation (such as directives). These powers have increased dramatically since the early 1990s and – as Mr Cameron discovered last year – now ordinary citizens can have a direct impact on who becomes the president of the European commission, ie the head of the EU’s main executive body. In the past, the European parliament has also acted as the EU’s collective conscience and has blocked agreements with countries whose human rights record was poor. Clearly, if one ignores this institution, the picture that emerges from one’s analysis of the EU is, at best, flawed.

Dr Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos
Department of politics, Birkbeck, University of London

See the debate here

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq early in the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. This F-15 was a part of a large coalition strike package that was the first to strike ISIL targets in Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Released)

While the West is critical of Russian airstrikes for hitting moderate Syrian opposition groups, both have resolved to take action against ISIL. But doing so now, when the war has come to be defined as Sunni versus Alawi – and other minorities – will only feed Sunni resentment and bolster the popularity of ISIL. What neither side will countenance is the only feasible option: dividing the country into separate ethno-sectarian cantons. Continue reading


Last week, in the first of our series of new research seminars, Deborah Mabbett presented her ongoing work on the independence of central banks. In the 1990s there was a global trend towards formally designating central banks as independent to take the ‘politics’ out of running the economy by giving authority over monetary policy to experts. Central banks now jealously guard their independence from ‘political influence’ (see what the Bank of England says here). Continue reading