The Mile End Group (MEG) is Queen Mary, University of London’s forum for government and politics. MEG events are open to all and free to attend providing you secure a ticket. Find out more
The Mile End Group (MEG) is Queen Mary, University of London’s forum for government and politics. MEG events are open to all and free to attend providing you secure a ticket.
The MEG was created in December 2003 by doctoral students of Peter Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary. The initial focus of the MEG was to provide a lively gathering for the findings of postgraduate research, allowing for discussion in an informal yet dynamic environment and building on Professor Hennessy’s undergraduate course, ‘Cabinet and Premiership’, and his MA class, ‘The Hidden Wiring’. As the particular emphasis of the research centred on the worlds of Westminster and Whitehall, past and present, the MEG invited contribution from a variety of individuals with inside knowledge of the workings of government, and over the years has evolved into a seminar series attracting increasingly high profile speakers.
Professor Sir Michael Barber, Lord Healey, Lord Heseltine, Lord Hurd, Sir John Major, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, Sir David Omand, Peter Riddell, Alan Rusbridger and David Willetts, amongst others, have all spoken at MEG seminars. The involvement of such noted speakers has served to widen the appeal of MEG events, and attendees include those from academia, business, government and journalism. Many students also attend, making the group a truly intergenerational forum for the exchange of ideas and experience.
From the summer of 2004, the IT firm EDS began sponsoring MEG events, continuing this when it was bought by the computer giants Hewlett Packard. This ground-breaking sponsorship has allowed the MEG to flourish and now provides for student bursaries and internships.
In 2005, the Mile End Institute (for the Study of Government, Intelligence and Society) was created and in 2007 jointly-published two books, The New Protective State and Cabinets and the Bomb.
In 2008, ‘The Blair Government’ undergraduate Special Subject – described by The Guardian as ‘ultra-contemporary history’ – was created by Dr Jon Davis and John Rentoul of The Independent on Sunday to bring the MEG ethos of practicality and connections back into the classroom. The first course in the country to take Tony Blair as history, it blended historical rigour with cutting edge primary research and enjoyed guest appearances from Alastair Campbell, Lord Mandelson, Ed Balls and Blair himself. Dr Jon Davis was shortlisted in 2010 for the Times Higher Education‘s ‘Most Innovative Teacher’ award for the course. In 2012, the course was promoted to MA level, extended to take in the Gordon Brown years and renamed ‘New Labour in Government’.
In 2012, the MEG was asked to help re-write the biographies of the Prime Ministers since 1945 for the No. 10 website.
The MEG co-operates with a number of institutes and think tanks and has partnerships and links to the Attlee Foundation, the British Academy, the Cabinet Office, Churchill College Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Ministry of Defence, the National Archives, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Royal Society, the Royal United Services Institute, the Science Museum, the Treasury, and the Young Foundation.
The people behind the MEG
Dr Jon Davis was a founder-member of the MEG and has been Director since January 2012, having previously been Executive Director. He is currently writing a book on New Labour with John Rentoul for Oxford University Press. His first book, Prime Ministers and Whitehall, was published by Hambledon Continuum in October 2007 and was based upon his PhD thesis, ‘Prime Ministers and Civil Service Reform 1960-74′ (sponsored by the Cabinet Office). He runs both the undergraduate ‘Cabinet and Premiership’ class and the Masters course ‘New Labour in Government’. Dr Davis was for five years a City investment banker at JP Morgan, Paribas and Hambros and worked in the Modernising Government Secretariat of the Cabinet Office during 2000.
Dr James Jinks has been Assistant Director since October 2012 following the completion of his PhD thesis on the UK’s Polaris programme, sponsored by BAE Systems. He is currently writing a book with Lord Hennessy, ‘The Silent Deep: A History of the Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945′.
Strategic Partnerships Co-ordinator
Michelle Clement has been Strategic Partnerships Co-ordinator since November 2011, having previously been a Mile End Group Assistant since 2010. She has responsibility for for both MEG events and also co-ordinating QM’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science work with the East London Tech City community.
The MEG Advisory Board
Lord Hennessy, Director of the MEG 2003-2011.
Professor Simon Gaskell, Principal of Queen Mary.
Sir Mark Allen served in British Foreign Service for 30 years. Since retiring from public service, Sir Mark has worked as a special advisor for BP and as a senior advisor to the Monitor Group, a global consulting and private equity firm.
Baroness Shephard was Secretary of State for Employment and for Women’s Issues; Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; and Secretary of State for Education (and Employment). Baroness Shephard is also an Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary.
Sir Kevin Tebbit is UK Chairman of the Italian defence manufacturers Finmeccanica. Sir Kevin was Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence 1998-2005, having previously been Director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). He is also a Visiting Professor of Queen Mary’s School of History.
Professor John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday. Previously, chief leader writer for The Independent, John is currently writing a book on New Labour with Dr Jon Davis. He teaches on the university’s New Labour in Government MA course with Dr Davis, having previously taught The Blair Government course.
Professor Nicholas Macpherson is Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. He has spent nearly all his career in the Treasury, spanning Gordon Brown’s decade-long Chancellorship, the global financial crisis which followed, and the formation and practice of the current coalition government.