The people serving at power’s elbow: Who they were, what they did and how they operated

A new book by Andrew Blick and George Jones, At Power’s Elbow, examines the people that have served as assistants to prime ministers. This article provides a summary of the main themes and some answers to questions that are explored in detail in the book. Our new book is about the characters who formed the network of assistants to prime ministers […]

This defence of motorists looks suspiciously like an attack on local government

The government is suggesting that councils had implemented inappropriate parking charges that undermined the vitality of high streets, flying in the face of the available evidence. Richard Berry argues that regardless of the party in government, Whitehall has long had a propensity to blame local authorities for wider policy failures. This trend appears now to have intensified. While some motorists might be annoyed […]

How contemporary politics became trapped in the short term and whether it can be repaired

Ian Marsh argues that policy convergence, cynical marketing strategies and the demise of party organisations have destroyed the infrastructures that once provided a platform for longer term policy debates. Contemporary politics is trapped in short-termism and parties may never be able to recover.  A wide literature attests to public disenchantment with contemporary democracy. So what is to be done? Most current […]

Government should make greater use of university academics as specialist consultants

Thom Brooks argues that the government should make greater use of university academics as specialist consultants. University academics are well-placed to provide the kind of specialist advice governments have acquired from consultants because it is often these academics who helped train the consultants. Moreover, they would likely cost much less than the specialist consultants used by successive governments. Central government spent […]

IPPR’s report on the civil service starts a useful debate, but needs a much more informed and critical examination

Dave Richards and Martin Smith find the recent IPPR report, which recommended how to improve the accountability and performance of the UK civil service, to be weak on several counts. Its key recommendation of greater political (ministerial) involvement in senior appointments would effectively undermine the independence that the report states should be balanced with responsiveness. It also does not actually review the […]

Constant government reshuffles are bad for policy, government, and accountability

Ministerial reshuffles are part and parcel of British government. While prime ministers often find them attractive, David Cameron has resisted the temptation to chop and change too much, making a virtue out of stability but occasionally being criticised for his loyalty to underperforming or scandal-hit ministers. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has recommended that cabinet ministers should remain in […]

The absence of an appropriate degree of regulation and accountability may compromise the appointment of advisers to ministers

James Caan, the social mobility policy tsar noted for urging parents to let their children stand on their own two feet, caused embarrassment for Nick Clegg when it emerged he employs his own daughters. This raised a wider concern about the appointment of business people and other ‘experts’ to advise ministers. Ruth Levitt and William Solesbury argue that the problem stems from the […]

The Profumo affair 50 years on: The collapse of the old establishment has not brought enhanced democratic participation

Wyn Grant looks back at the Profumo affair and suggests that it represented the beginning of the end for the old ‘establishment’. In the place of ‘club government’, a more rule bound regulatory state was created. However this transformation has been arguably incomplete, with politicians still being drawn from a narrow range of occupations and not being representative of the population […]

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work by British Politics and Policy at LSE is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.