Special Advisers

Who they are, what they do and why they matter

By Ben Yong, Robert Hazell

Viewers of The Thick of It - a dark British comedy television series that satirizes the inner workings of modern British government - will know of special advisers as spin doctors and political careerists. Several well-known ministers have been special advisers to the government; among them, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Jack Straw, and Vince Cable. People also know about the public relations disasters involving Jo Moore, Damian McBride, and Adam Smith. But what is the reality? What do special advisers actually do in British government? Who are they, where do they come from, and what do they go on to do after fulfilling their advisory role? This book is the most detailed study yet on Britain's special advisers. A research team at University College London's Constitution Unit assembled a comprehensive database of over 600 special advisers since 1979. They conducted written surveys, and interviewed over 100 special advisers, ministers, and officials from the past 30 years. They conclude that special advisers are now a permanent and indispensable part of Whitehall (an area of London recognized as the center of British governmental administration), but are still treated as transient and temporary. The book concludes with practical recommendations for increasing the effectiveness of special advisers, through improvements to their recruitment, induction and training, support and supervision, and strengthening their accountability. It is a unique and fascinating read for anyone interested in politics and constitutional law.~


Publication Date: 8/28/2014
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781849465601