British Government: A Reader in Policy-making by Simon James

By Simon James

This reader offers over seventy case experiences of coverage making in Whitehall and Westminster, combining newspaper assurance, reliable files, educational research and the memories of individuals. Simon James demonstrates a few of the ways that coverage originates, how it is formed inside of Whitehall, the several modes of parliamentary keep an eye on, and the issues of implementation and coverage evaluate. He illustrates civil servants' half in constructing coverage, ministers' relatives with their departments and their colleagues, and the function of the best minister and cupboard. Case reviews aid to ascertain cupboard committees, the effect of strain teams and choose committees in addition to the implications of self reliant inquiries, the effect of the ecu group and the restraining strength of parliament and the courts. The case experiences variety from nationwide controversies corresponding to the pits closure predicament and the "Satanic Verses" affair, via to the hidden part of coverage making together with bargains struck with strain teams in Whitehall convention and wrangling in Brussels over the tax on whisky. Designed as a textbook for A-level scholars and undergraduates, "Policy Making within the British govt" presents a huge diversity of resource fabric and research that might be of worth to scholars of British politics, coverage making and political associations.

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In addition, there is a thorough update on all the key aspects of the Department’s work which has to be carried on regardless, whichever Party happens to win the election. I suspect that many new Ministers, suddenly finding themselves responsible for a Department of State, could be totally overawed by the officials’ detailed briefing. Fortunately, in my first Cabinet post I knew my subject as a farmer better than most of my officials and so had few qualms about being too dependent on their advice or being overwhelmed by the volume of work.

But Nigel just ploughed on with his objections. Finally Margaret said, ‘Very well. I will do one study and the Treasury can do its own. ’ (Kenneth Baker, The Turbulent Years, London: Faber and Faber, 1993) Three aspects of this meeting are worth noting. Firstly, while some of the ministerial contributions recorded by Baker were inspired by departmental interests (notably the Treasury/Education clash) most were general observations on practical and political issues, drawn from ministers’ own experience and practical sense.

It was of course an illusion, although I never went to the other extreme and believed that a Prime Minister must be a workaholic…. In my experience the work-load was greater both as Chancellor and as Foreign Secretary. To a large extent the Prime Minister makes his own pace. It is the Prime Minister himself who takes the initiatives, who pokes about where he chooses and creates his own waves. Ideally he should keep enough time to stand back a little from the Cabinet’s day-to-day work, to keep in touch with Parliamentary and outside opinion, and to view the scene as a whole, knowing full well that periods of crisis will occur when this will be impossible.

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