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The Blair governments, public sector reform and state strategic capacity

Marsh, I 2009 , 'The Blair governments, public sector reform and state strategic capacity' , The Political Quarterly, vol. 80, no. 1 , pp. 33-41 , doi:

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Two books at the end of the Blair era—by Michael Barber and Julian Le Grand—offer to redeem the 'third way'. Both authors explore the political case for public sector reform and the means by which it can be accomplished. They explore a similar range of reform models: command and control; quasi-markets; and devolution and transparency. But the circle between efficiency, client service and continuous improvement must be squared. Neither author considers the 'learning by doing' alternative. No less fundamentally, neither author addresses the political and technical challenges in developing strategy. How are issues to be aired in advance so as to expose evidence and perspectives? How are interests to be engaged and supporting coalitions formed? How are these processes to occur without executive commitment? How are unconventional ideas to be aired without being over-ruled by populist or media sensationalism? These are the practical dilemmas that confounded Blair's efforts. These books invite a strategic conversation that is badly needed. But where in the political system can it be pursued?

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Marsh, I
Keywords: British politics • public administration • public sector reform • role of parliament • the third way • strategy in government
Journal or Publication Title: The Political Quarterly
ISSN: 0032-3179
DOI / ID Number:
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