George Jones

The case against Directly-Elected Executive Mayors

In a speech in Manchester recently, Chancellor George Osborne spoke of a ‘revolution in the way we govern England’. As a result, the Queen’s Speech included a bill for a ‘radical new model of city government’, giving more control over policy areas such as housing, planning and transport to English cities. In return, these cities would be expected to directly […]

How to construct a team to support the Prime Minister

The trial of Andy Coulson makes it abundantly clear that aides can tarnish the reputation of those they serve. Andrew Blick and George Jones examine the history of aides who have caused trouble for Prime Ministers and, drawing on their recent book, make a series of recommendations about how prime ministers should construct and handle their teams.  In his 1513 […]

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 […]

The central government continues to believe that it, and not elected local authorities, knows best

George Jones and John Stewart describe the considerable freedom for action and initiatives by local authorities up to the Second World War. Central controls then began to escalate, culminating in the 1980s when their right to determine their own levels of expenditure when financed by their own taxation was ended. This trend has since continued. The 2011 Localism Act gives central government over one […]

The National Audit Office should not be responsible for the audit of local authorities

George Jones and John Stewart support the government’s proposal that local authorities can choose their own auditor as it is consistent with both localism and practice in many organisations. Elective audit and district audit The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 prescribed auditors and auditing for the boroughs it was creating as the foundation for elected local government in urban areas. The Act provided […]

Yet another feeble paper on civil service reform that will achieve little for local government

George Jones and John Stewart dismiss the Government’s new paper outlining their plan for civil service reform as another inadequate attempt. Civil-service reform should draw heavily upon the experience of local government. Here we go again. The Government’s paper, The Civil Service Reform Plan, is the latest in a long series of such documents that have been published since the Fulton […]

Elected mayors cannot deliver a localist revival

In response to a recent OurKingdom article by Guy Lodge (Mayors for all English cities? A democratic argument) George Jones argues that it is wrong to force referendums on the adoption of elected mayors on the localities and that there are better ways to break with suffocating centralism.   It is ironical that Guy Lodge, who wants to “combat” our centralized system of […]

Sir Gus O’Donnell’s coming departure as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service marks a reconfiguration at the centre of Whitehall that will enhance collective responsibility at the heart of government.

The departure of the UK’s top civil servant and the subsequent re-shuffling of the centre of Whitehall will have a great influence on the way central government is organised. Andrew Blick and George Jones argue that the upcoming changes might increase chances for more collegial decision-making at the heart of government. Sir Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary and official head of […]