Lesson 2, Topic 6
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Special Advisors and The Civil Service

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Special Advisors

Special Advisors are appointed by The Prime Minister and Secretaries of State to offer political or general advice to the Prime Minister or to the Secretaries of State. They are worth noting because they yield significant power, despite not having any official power according to the law. Their power comes from their ability to influence the direction of government departments, or 10 Downing Street, through the advice that they give. SPADs, as they are often called, are placed under very little scrutinee: they do not have to appear in parliament or appear before Select Committees, and their work is generally hidden from the public eye. Some of the most infamous SPADs include Alistair Campbell and Dominic Cummings.

The Civil Service

The civil service is the administrative arm of the state. All civil servants are strictly impartial and must observe the Civil Service code. Their job is to carry out the practical day to day work that the government requests that they do. There are civil servants working in all government departments, they are led by the Permanent Secretary who is the most senior civil servant in the department. The political direction of the department is determined by the Secretary of State of that department, they are an MP. Secretaries of State are appointed into the position of Secretary of State by the Prime Minister. The civil service is one of the go to career options for those interested in politics.

London, UK – April 23, 2016: Whitehall street sign in London, UK. London is the most populous city in the UK with 13 million people living in its metro area.