Tackling the rise of the “SPAD-ocracy”

Wednesday 25th June 2014

Letter from Tony Breslin published in The Guardian on Monday 23rd June 2014:

How ironic that in a week when Michael Gove has become the latest politician to disown the outpourings of a (former) Special Adviser, or “SPAD” (Gove forced to disown senior adviser after attack on Cameron, 17 June), the Guardian’s investigations reveal that almost half of Labour’s candidates in key marginals are “ex-special advisers, party workers, researchers, lobbyists or former MPs” (Labour picks Westminster insiders for key seats, 18 June).

The emergence of what might be termed the “SPADocracy” confirms the absence of meritocracy and enshrines an inequality of access and influence at the heart of our politics; it is bad for democracy.

While the rise of the so-called “professional” politician has brought some benefits, the dominance of the SPADocrats across both front benches and beyond leaves Parliament more cut-off and remote than ever, and confines policymaking to a clique of bright young things who know everything and anything except the price of a loaf of bread. Tackling the rise of the “SPAD-ocracy”

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Chief Executive, Royal Society of Arts