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Governance in the UK is based on 2 principles: Weberian bureaucracy and new public management. Before we proceed to discover how the UK is governed, be aware that bureaucracy refers to an administration by non-elected officials. If you ‘Google’ bureaucracy, you’ll come across many negative connotations similar to ‘inefficient’; this is not what bureaucracy means for the purposes of this page.

Historically, much of the UK was bureaucratic. Max Weber is credited as a theorist who aptly described bureaucratic administration as being an effective organisation model in a complex society. Bureaucracy, or ‘Weberian bureaucracy’ involves a clear hierarchical order underpinned by regional authorities. This type of administration must of course by controlled by democratic institutions.

Abolishing bad bureaucracy

It is however true that bureaucratic governance in the UK acquired negative connotations over time, particularly with regards to the civil service. A civil servant is:

A servant of the Crown, other than the holders of political or judicial offices who is employed in a civil capacity and whose remuneration is paid wholly and directly out of monies voted by Parliament.

Before 1854, civil servants were appointed by ministers with no selection criteria, with significant consequences. In 1854, the Northcote-Trevelyn Report abolished corruption, amateurism and a number of other negative adjectives which were used to describe the running of and the people in the civil service with the introduction of a civil service code. Today, courtesy of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, much of the civil service is now formed under statute rather than prerogative power...

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