Bad Piano? Bad Music? A Response to Comments on Lowe and Pemberton, The Official History of the British Civil Service, Vol 2: 1982-1997

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Abstract

The reforms made to the Civil Service during the premierships of Margaret Thatcher and John Major were unparalleled in scope in peacetime. Undertaken in the name of efficiency and better management, they served to shrink the number of civil servants, subordinate them to the will of ministers, and effectively privatise a swathe of public services. Their legacy, however, was a relatively weak Centre struggling to cope with a fragmented and extremely complex governmental machine, an often overly managerialist Senior Civil Service often side-lined from policy making, and a system lacking slack as a consequence of the quest for ‘efficiency’ and dependent on private contractors of dubious worth. Over the past five years that legacy left the country poorly placed to triumph over the challenges of Brexit and then of Covid-19.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Volume92
Issue number1
Early online date9 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Civil Service
  • Public Administration
  • New Public Management
  • Thatrcherism

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