Implementing Change in a Clash of Cultures
Chapter 2: The United Kingdom Government: The Pressure for Change
2. The United Kingdom Government: the pressure for change This chapter discusses the background to the approaches taken by the British Government to improve the operation of directly managed public services during the 1980s. Later chapters focus particularly on the origins of the development of ‘executive agencies’ as a new structure for public services provided by central government under the direct control of Ministers. In the 1980s the British Government led by Margaret Thatcher, with a radical agenda to reduce the size and cost of the state and pressure from acute ﬁnancial problems, introduced major changes to the scope of government. The intervening quarter of a century has seen further changes in Britain and similar changes in many other countries. What was viewed in the 1980s as a right wing attack on the consensus-based, liberal post-war structure of government has become accepted as the norm. As the political rhetoric of shrinking states, the virtues of private ownership, and the incompetence of public oﬃcials has mellowed over the intervening years, the experience of the changing structure of the state is now commonplace in many countries which have no political tendencies to what was known as ‘Thatcherism’ or ‘neo liberalism’. The need for reform in government has a long history in Britain. Improbably, rioters in London in the 1780s are said to have shouted ‘administration reform’ as they smashed windows and hurled stones at the wealthy in Piccadilly. The Government has steadily increased the size and scale of its activities since...
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