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Keywords:

  • governance;
  • core executive;
  • public management;
  • delivery;
  • New Labour

The experience of governing at the strategic centre of the UK political system raises many important questions about the philosophy of public management and delivery, and the scope and scale of the British state. This article sheds light on those debates by offering an inside account of government at the centre during the Blair and Brown years, albeit from a particular ontological standpoint given the author's role as a Special Adviser in the Prime Minister's Policy Unit. Among the most insistent themes is the gap that so often opens up between the intentions of those in 10 Downing Street and Whitehall, and the reality of what actually happens on the ground. The drive to expand the strategic centre during the New Labour era was intended not just to improve the performance of government, but to change the nature of British society. There were, nonetheless, many unintended consequences and outcomes that resulted from New Labour's governance and Whitehall reforms.