No more "Special Advisors"

Suggested clause for the constitution:

'The duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and their Cabinet shall be discharged by those individuals alone with the assistance of neutral civil service advisors.'

Idea behind the draft clause:

We elect MPs to govern us and pay for a neutral civil service to support them and implement their governments' decisions. 

What we do not elect are special advisers.  So why is that that we have ended up with an army of  unelcted special advisers costing millions of pounds And acting as spin doctors   

Our constitution shoukd enshrine the principle that pplitical accountability requires governing decisions to be made by elected officials with the assistance of their neutral civil service advisers. 

edited on Apr 13, 2015 by Ian Smith

Ian Smith Apr 5, 2015

Dear All,

I am posting a quick comment here and in my other ideas.

Firstly, I want to say how much I have enjoyed seeing all of your contributions on this and other ideas and how impressed I am with the range of expertise and erudition which has filled these debates.

Secondly, I wish to put forward a couple of suggestions as to a way forward at this stage.  They are:

A.   I suggest that we all refrain from further voting until the ideas have been refined and represented and have then been debated for a while.  My thinking here is that we will want to see the reshaped ideas and see the comments on those refined ideas before we decide whether they are to be voted up or down,  I do not think that we should refrain from voting on comments but perhaps try not to vote too hastily on them.

B.  Now that the hurly burly of the "Hacking" phase (some of it quite savage) has passed, I hope and wish that we will adopt a more collaborative and less combative approach in our commentary, so that commentary is given a chance to be constructive and really do the job of refining the ideas in question.

C.  I would hope that we can refrain from attacking the very existence of the idea under discussion in this phase or the fact that it has successfully gone through to this phase against the wishes of those who voted it down.  I sincerely hope that the previous critics of an idea, will still respect that it found favour with the crowd and now help to refine the idea in this phase.

Thirdly, I will try my best not to introduce any more typos and mangled phrases! 

Best wishes for the holiday weekend!


Christine Farquharson Apr 7, 2015

As an aid to the refining process, here's a quick summary of what was discussed in phase 1. Remember to keep voting on ideas and comments so that idea authors know what the community wants as they work to refine their proposals!

- David Shepherd supports the idea and would like to see it extended to prohibiting the appointment of unelected ministers.

- Tom Austin supports the idea and argues that it should extend to lobbyists and consultants as well, but is not sure how it would be implemented. (1 up)

Andrew Bulovsky Apr 13, 2015

With only one week remaining in the refining stage, the facilitators will draft some language for this idea. We'll do everything we can to redraft the original submission in line with your comments and suggestions. If the original poster would like to take over the idea they are more than welcome to at any point. Please do comment to offer suggestions on specific wording and to guide us on which suggestions should take priority (by voting them up/down).

"To ensure political accountability and transparency, the duties and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and their Cabinet shall be discharged by those individuals alone with the assistance of neutral civil service advisors. Unelected special advisors, brought into the political arena must be publicly named and must not exert an undue influence on the formation, interpretation, or implementation of policy. Furthermore, dates of meetings with individuals, included but not limited to lobbyists and consultants, must be made publicly available."

Ian Smith Apr 13, 2015

Dear Andrew,

Manny thanks.  I think that we should stick with the original idea on no more SPADs.  I have now posted a draft clause above borrowing some of your words.  Many thanks.

Kind regards,


Tom Austin Apr 13, 2015

The duties and responsibilities of all Government Post Holders; Prime Minister, Minister with Portfolio [heads of departments], Minister without portfolio, junior Ministers, PPSs and others - whether Cabinet members or not, shall be discharged by those individuals severally and alone with the assistance of neutral civil service advisors.

Andrew Bulovsky Apr 13, 2015

Happy to help! 

Users tagged:

Daniel Gaunt Apr 16, 2015

I'd caution use of the words 'those individuals alone' as this could suggest that work cannot be delegated to junior ministers etc.

Key points a clause needs pick up are 1) Ministers are responsible and answerable for the activities of their departments, and 2) the actual day-to-day delivery must be by neutral civil servants. How about:

'The Prime Minister and  Cabinet shall direct the work of their departments and shall be answerable to parliament for their activities and performance. 

The Civil Service shall be politically neutral. The government shall implement by legislation a Civil Service Code which shall enshrine the political neutrality of all civil servants in their professional activities.