(UN)REPRESENTATIVE BUREAUCRACY? Are public service leaders unlike the country they serve?

By Colin Talbot

Is the staffing of our government institutions – the civil service and public services – somehow “unrepresentative” of the people they serve?

That they are is a central theme of current UK government thinking. But what precisely do they mean? And is there any evidence they are right?

Continue reading “(UN)REPRESENTATIVE BUREAUCRACY? Are public service leaders unlike the country they serve?”

SPENDING REVIEWS: what are they good for?

By Colin Talbot

What is a “Spending Review”? Simply it is a statement, by HM Government, of what it intends to spend over the next (usually) 3 years. And what it will spend it on.

Sounds deceptively simple? “Deceptive” is the operative word, because it turns out to be anything but simple or straightforward.

Continue reading “SPENDING REVIEWS: what are they good for?”

Michael Gove and Civil Service Reform – Talk, Decisions, Actions …. and Consequences

This is a cautionary note for all those people taking Michael Gove’s speech about “The Privilege of Public Service” seriously.

One of my favourite books on organizations is by the Nils Brunsson, the Swedish organization theorist. My late friend and colleague Christopher Pollitt and I used to spend many pleasant sessions, drink in hand, discussing how it applied to public policy. Continue reading “Michael Gove and Civil Service Reform – Talk, Decisions, Actions …. and Consequences”

The Covid-19 Shield Wall has been ripped away by the Government

I’ve been shielding since before we started calling it that.

By the start of March it was obvious to me that people with conditions like mine are highly vulnerable to C-19.

So from 4 Mar I started taking measures to isolate myself, as much as possible.

Suddenly, this weekend (May 30/31), we have been told we are free to go out like everyone else, just maintain social distancing. No warning, no explanation of why, or how.

Continue reading “The Covid-19 Shield Wall has been ripped away by the Government”

Letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

To: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP


Health and Social Care Select Committee


Dear Mr Hunt,

I am writing to ask your Committee to investigate one very specific aspect of the way in which the Corona-19 outbreak is being managed: the protection of the most vulnerable to the disease.

I have to declare an interest as I am one of the 1.9m who have, apparently, been designated as being in the most “at risk” group.

But I am writing primarily as an expert with experience in the scientific, engineering and social science fields – mostly the latter and particularly the study of government and public agencies, including health for over three decades. Continue reading “Letter to Jeremy Hunt MP”

Government: Centralism and Localism in the Covid Crisis

By Colin Talbot

In a crisis the default response of the British state is: command and control, centralise power, organize everything on a big scale, impose ‘one size fits all’ rules.

It happened on a massive scale in the two world wars, and it is happening again, on a lesser scale in the current crisis. Continue reading “Government: Centralism and Localism in the Covid Crisis”