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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite current concerns with good governance and policy delivery, little serious attention has been paid to the institution vital to both: the Civil Service. This chapter places present problems in historical context. Starting with the seminal 1854 Northcote–Trevelyan Report, it covers the ‘lost opportunity’ of the 1940s when the Civil Service failed to adapt to rapidly rising demands on the state, as advocated by Beveridge and Keynes. It then examines the belated attempts at modernization in the 1960s, the Service’s vilification in the 1970s, the final destruction of the ‘old order’ during the Thatcher administration, and the subsequent restructuring of the Service and the (highly flawed) embracing of the ‘new public management’ ethos.

Keywords: politics, political history, Britain, Civil Service, the State, Whitehall

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