First published in 1992. In this lively and controversial book, Kevin Theakston examines the Yes, Minister-style argument popularised by Tony Benn and Richard Crossman that the civil service obstructs Labour government policies. He argues that in fact the Labour party’s problems and failures in office are largely political in origin.
The book surveys the development of socialist thinking about Whitehall, and examines the claim of a Labour MP in 1979 that ‘It is as if Labour in office has now lost all stomach for administrative reform.’ Theakston looks at the effectiveness of Labour’s various reform schemes, raising important issues such as politicisation and power in the civil service, Whitehall management, elitism in civil service recruitment, and secrecy and ‘open government’.
This book will appeal to researchers and students of British politics, public administration, and history, as well as to all those with an interest in Whitehall reform, or in Labour Party politics.