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Shaped by several high-profile instances where the adviser became the story, the public image of spads is largely negative. But have a few notable characters distorted the reality of those who work behind the scenes? Sebastian Whale investigates
Planning inspectors may be small in number, but they have a crucial say in our country’s development. Head of profession Rynd Smith tells Matthew O’Toole what qualities they need
Having left the Sustainable Development Commission, veteran environment activist Jonathon Porritt can now speak freely on sustainability policy. Matthew O’Toole hears complaints that Whitehall has resisted change
In the first of a series of interviews with think-tank leaders, Matt Ross meets Andrew Haldenby: the plain-speaking director of influential, right-leaning think-tank Reform – and an ascerbic critic of the civil service
Without a coordinated approach to intervention in conflicts, both nations and departments can end up working at cross-purposes. Matt Ross meets Richard Teuten, who fosters over-arching UK strategies on armed struggles
In a week when the weather has disrupted travel and brought a surreal dimension to life, Edward Garnier still manages to be amazed by the latest abortive coup against the prime minister.
This week’s interviewee works with young people leaving residential care, and is based in the social work department of a deprived, inner-city local authority in England.
This week’s public servant is a part-time postman at a Royal Mail sub-post office, with experience in a major sorting office.
Former information commissioner Richard Thomas has a new job: overseeing the government’s systems of administrative justice. He talks to Matt Ross about the challenges, potential and importance of both roles
Special advisers occupy a twilight zone between elected politicians and the formal structures of the civil service. In a special report, we profile these ‘spads’ – the group Clare Short called “the people who live in the dark."
Social entrepreneur Andrew Mawson has spent 25 years developing community projects, several of which have been adopted by government. But the public sector often kills the golden goose, he tells Matt Ross; to understand why, the civil service must recognise that “the way into the macro is through the micro”.
Paddy Ashdown, former Lib Dem leader and co-chair of the IPPR’s Commission on National Security, tells Matt Ross that we are ill-prepared for the challenges of a new era of globalised, decentralised power
The Homes and Communities Agency has its formal launch on 1 December, charged with fostering housebuilding and regeneration. The economic climate could barely be more daunting – but Matt Ross finds its new head, Sir Bob Kerslake, characteristically relaxed
As the top lawyer for two large Whitehall departments, Richard Heaton operates at the heart of the delivery environment. Here, he tells Matt Mercer about the role of government lawyers, and running his departmental law firm.