• 10 Downing Street
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    The civil service should be providing the key capacities which any prime minister needs to govern effectively

The civil service should be providing the key capacities which any prime minister needs to govern effectively

Josh Harris discusses a new report by the Institute for Government which looks at the role of the civil service in supporting the prime minister. He argues that effective government requires that civil service is provided with essential capacities that the prime minister can rely on to carry out the difficult task of leading the government.
No job prepares you for being prime minister. They […]

  • machinery
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    Repeated government ‘makeovers’ have not created a government machine that works better and costs less

Repeated government ‘makeovers’ have not created a government machine that works better and costs less

What do we have to show for thirty years of makeovers in UK central government? Has a relentless focus on cost-cutting damaged traditional administrative values? In a wide-ranging study of UK central government, Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon found that not only did formal complaints and legal challenges to central government rise sharply over the three decades up to […]

  • Select Committee
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    The most successful Select Committee in the last parliament is now the most degraded

The most successful Select Committee in the last parliament is now the most degraded

Select Committees are at their best seeking practical reforms in a non-partisan spirit and at their worst when led by political zealots. For Paul Flynn MP, the Public Administration Committee on which he serves perfectly depicts this: once led by Tony Wright, the professorial chair concerned with sensible reforms, it is now being led by Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, whose […]

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 […]

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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.