Influence of Politics on UK Public Management Reform

Over the last 70 years, politics, to a large degree, has influenced UK public management reform. Critically Discuss.

Public Management can be simply described as performing

When a country has a democratic government, the process of implementing a law is extremely tedious compared to a monarchy. In a monarchy, the ruler’s word is law, and that law is enacted precisely when the ruler says it is, saving a great deal of time and work. However, the trade-off is necessary, especially in complex policy issues, such as foreign policy, that relate to war.

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When entering conflict with a foreign nation, it’s crucial for the survival of a nation. War is an extremely costly operation, one that can cause substantial financial damage to a nation. A democratic political system, such as in the USA, specifically prevents a nation from entering wars for any defensive or offensive purpose that is not publicly approved, because a mistake in such decision will impact the survival of a nation. Even though there is a loss of efficiency, it ensures the survival of a nation.

However, the main reason why extensive checks on policy is necessary, is because we humans suffer from our own psychological bias. In the book The Nudge, the author describes “we human can be manipulated by savvy architects of choice “. Referencing that we human, and politicians of course, will sometimes makes incorrect decision or irrational decision based on psychological manipulation. A check and balance system extensively prevents that from happening in our government. By making single sided and quick decisions virtually impossible from our policy making process.

Despite the obvious loss of efficiency, this trade-off of speed for balance is essential. The framers of the American constitution knew well the results of absolute rule and structured the nation they founded very specifically to avoid such tyranny. A somewhat clunky government is the unavoidable price of a multi-faceted government. In turn, public participation is encouraged under such a system, as people are made to feel that their efforts can make a difference, as opposed to the sense that a distant and unconcerned monarch will simply do as he or she likes regardless of public opinion and action.

Using the United States as an example, the president, head of the executive branch of government and holder of the ostensive title of “head of state,” has virtually no power to draft new legislation. In fact, his (or her) authority in this matter is entirely limited to effectively asking nicely for Congress (which constitutes the legislative branch) to introduce the desired law. Political allies in the House of Representatives will certainly comply, but their opponents are sure to question and criticize the new law to within an inch of its life, insisting on amendments and modifications if they allow it to move forward at all. Assuming some agreement – often taking a long time to reach and achieved only after the requisite rounds of political scheming and posturing – can be reached, essentially the entire process must be repeated in the Senate, where the unique balance of senators may bring the bill’s future into question yet again.

We can see that by allowing discussion and exchange between the Senate and House, the public participation in the political matter increases as well. As each citizen recognizes that we elected our own policy makers, every citizen makes a difference, as opposed to a monarch, who often distances him or herself from the public when making public policy, thus discouraging public participation.

One way to allow the public participation is allowing public to form special interest group to maintain their position in the government by lobbying to influence other people to support the organization’s position. These interest groups often testify in legislative hearings, donate to political candidates (, and donate money to candidate or organization to lobby    politicians.

When special interest effects certain elite groups, the candidate of the elite group can spread their ideas to the public at large, which results in a change in public opinion, thus ensuring their ideas and objective are in place in the society. Special interest group are formed by groups of individuals, and the group’s ability to drawn in large numbers of citizens directly impacts the quality of policy, because when implementing a policy, to satisfy its members, the policy drafting procedure must ensure a common understanding of the law, must be readable (not overly complex), and it must achieve the group’s social, political, and legal objectives, which are the criteria of a good-quality policy. Reading) (

Think tanks are a wide range of institution that provides public policy research, advice,and analysis, while operating independently. They are non-profit and operate independently from political partiesand government. Their main goal is to help government officials understand and make rational decisions on different issues. They support policy developments by conducting research on complex issues with their expertise and present their extensive findings to government officials, such as congress and other officials. Think tanks act as an intermediary between knowledge and politicians.

However, think tanks approach different issues differently. A scientific approach requires extensive testing of theories about the policy effects. A professional approach requires analysis of the opportunity cost of different alternatives. And lastly a political approach requires support of the left or right-wing party.

Although the description above summarizes different approaches for different think tanks, the underlying simultaneous approach requires think tanks to understand complex issues and to provide research and advice to funders or political leaders and together draft a quality policy that can reach different objective.

To explain the difference between political vs economic model we can look at democracy vs communism. To begin with, democracy is entirely a political model.

In the American sense, democracy is no economic model. It is a system in which the people at large vote upon voluntary candidates who have asked to serve as representatives in a variety of capacities, and once winning election, to decide policy as they see fit. As this structure the administration of the country, with no necessary commentary upon economics, it is a political model.

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By contrast, communism is an economic model, though its nature does tend to favour a political structure. Communism is an extreme flavour of socialism that emphasizes the dignity of the common worker, who is credited with building and maintaining all human societies. As such, communism purports to establish an economy free of financial inequality, in which the workers – constituting most of the population – are all equal social partners. It is in this manner that communism can be mistaken for a political model, as such tight controls on societal resources all but require a strong centralized government to oversee distribution. But this is a consequence of communism’s economic ideal, rather than a prescription. Communism is an economic model.

Again, an economic model as rigid as communism tends to demand a powerful government, but ultimately it is a nation’s political model – not its economic model – that determines the selection of policies. This is only sensible, as policy should be set by a nation’s leaders – even if, as in the U.S.A example above, those leaders are none but the people themselves – and not by directly by economic factors.

I believe economic model should dictate policy making, because economic model is a much effective and less costly way to drive changes in the country. When we look at the example of increase alcohol tax led to decrease in alcohol purchase. We can see that economic policy clearly influences human behaviour. Not only it decreases drunk driving accidents, it increases productivity and health gains. In the past we have seen example of political models in place to ban alcohol (18th amendment), not only it did not decrease incentive to purchase alcohol, it increase power, corruption within a nation which cause more social damage to a nation. Economic model has proven itself as the best model to drive changes in a country and human behaviour.


Keilman, John. “Higher Booze Tax a Lifesaver?” Chicago Tribune. Web. 1 Oct. 2014.

“Top Donor Profiles.” Center for Responsive Politics. 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Oct. 2014. <>.Thaler, Richard H., and Cass R. Sunstein. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 2008. Print.


certain tasks related to policy implementation in publicly supported programs (Jone

Would you say that the success of far-right parties has an impact on the positions of mainstream parties? In your essay, consider at least two countries to make your argument.

The influence of far-right parties on mainstream parties has remained a relatively undeveloped area in political literature with many instead writing explanatory pieces on the emergence of such parties (Williams, 2006). This is because far-right parties have been largely successful across a great deal of Europe in recent years. To highlight this, in Britain there was the brief, but meaningful rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), in Germany the Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD), in Austria the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and in France the Front Nationale to name but a few. This essay will argue that the success of these far-right parties has brought around changes in the more mainstream, centre-ground parties in two ways; both in regards to ideological position, and in reference to their position in government. This essay will also argue that the size of this impact on ideology depends greatly on the original position of the mainstream party on the political spectrum. There is a great distinction between a rightward leaning party’s reactions to a far-right party’s success and a leftward leaning party’s reaction. However, this essay ultimately concludes that it is impossible to state that the mainstream parties’ reactions are as a direct result of far-right parties. This is because there are a great deal of political influences that could impact the positions of mainstream parties. Moreover, the terms “mainstream parties” and “far-right parties” must be defined to effectively argue the magnitude of any impact. The phrase mainstream parties refers to the more traditional, often relatively centre, parties that do not hold extremist views. On the other hand, far-right parties are essentially political parties characterised by being on the right of mainstream parties ideologically, or those who promote xenophobia and the social exclusion of non-nationals (Williams, 2006).

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Academics argue that far-right parties certainly influence the ideological position of mainstream parties for several reasons which will be explained shortly. Moreover, mainstream parties that align themselves on the right side of the political spectrum undergo greater changes. Right-wing parties are evidently more open to ideological change as a result of far-right emergence, whereas left-wing parties are a great deal more resilient for reasons that shall be explained. The following two paragraphs detail the differences between the ideological reactions of originally left leaning mainstream parties and originally right leaning mainstream parties towards far-right parties.

In regards to right-wing, traditional, mainstream parties, the far-right parties essentially drain the further right, more extreme section, of their voter base. These individual voters previously had no viable alternative beforehand, and therefore aligned with the closest party to their view which had a chance of success to avoid a wasted vote. With the emergence of a far-right party, the individual voter has a party closer to their own political belief and thus supports the far-right party instead, sapping the original mainstream party of votes. To counteract this effect, the mainstream parties must appeal to these lost voters by shifting their ideology rightwards, even if it be by a single policy. This is since, according to the single-issue party thesis, many far-right parties are essentially single policy pressure groups in regards to immigration with many political commentators referring to them as the anti-immigration parties (Mudde, 1999). For example, it was said by Wright and Cooper, that the United Kingdom Independence Party was draining the Conservative party’s more fringe supporters by offering a manifesto pledge of a Brexit referendum. Thus, the more centre-ground party, the Conservatives in this case, had to second that promise to stop their support from leaving them for UKIP. Hence, this is the reason why we saw a 2015 general election manifesto promise of a Brexit referendum from the Conservatives. As Wright and Cooper (2016) put it, in 2015 “for Tory MPs facing re-election this [UKIP’s success in polling] looked ominous. They were worried, not that Ukip [sic] would take their seats but they would take enough of their votes to hand victory to Labour.” Therefore, to ensure victory the Conservatives had to lurch rightward on the political scale. Han argued that this outcome showcased the fact that far-right parties could benefit by pulling mainstream parties towards their own ideological positions (Han, 2014).

The emergence and success of far-right parties can arguably cause centre ground, mainstream parties to lurch to the right on single policy issues to stop them losing specific voting blocks. Han rightfully states that “the electoral success of RRPs [Radical right-wing parties] is believed to have applied pressure… to mainstream parties (MPs) on both sides of the political spectrum” (Han, 2014) and therefore we must speak not only of right-wing mainstream parties, but also those who are more leftward leaning. Left leaning mainstream parties are much less likely to have ideological waverings since many members of those parties have fundamentally different political beliefs, which are at ends with the policies of far-right parties. Moreover, left leaning parties are aware that they cannot simply politically “flip-flop” or “U-turn” on key policies as Kollman, Miller and Page rightfully state that “voters may be wary of a party that moves across the ideological spectrum in search of votes” (Kollman, Miller & Page, 1998, p141). This opinion of how parties making gross changes in stance can ruin party legitimacy is furthered in Tavits’ work (Tavits, 2007). “Adhering to certain values serves the purpose of defining a party’s identity and helping to build a reputation of commitment, consistency, and probity. Ideological movement devalues these reputations.” In short, left-leaning mainstream parties are simply not influenced to the same extent as right leaning mainstream parties by far-right parties, because of “historical ideological commitments” (Bale et al, 2010).

However, when looking at these sources critically it is possible to see that the impact of far-right parties on mainstream parties is limited. This limitation is a key argument of this essay. When comparing Han’s, Bale’s and Tavits’ articles, with Akkerman’s we see this disparity between academics’ beliefs on the topic. Akkerman used a different data set, which analysed a total of 176 manifestos and concluded that “the impact of radical right parties on mainstream policy agendas tends to be overestimated” (Akkerman, 2015). The fact that different data yielded such different results would suggest that far-right party’s influence is impossible to see isolated from other political influences. While Akkerman still concurs that mainstream parties are indeed influenced, he states the extent to which they are influenced is debatable. This essay argues that correlation is not necessarily causation; just because select data sets show a correlation between the far-right’s rise and manifesto changes does not mean one caused the other. There are a great deal of political agents that can influence a party’s manifesto, and therefore to state a change in a mainstream party’s manifesto is as a result of a far-right party is a statement that fails to look at the wider political picture. In this case there are several academics that link these manifesto changes to other causes. For example, “Jeanette Money makes a convincing case that the move towards restriction in Britain and France long pre-dated the emergence of the extreme-right, and was linked to electoral dynamics” (Money, cited in Schain, 1999). Therefore, whilst the claims of Han, Bale et al and Tavits are duly noted, Akkerman’s criticism of the claims being overstated carries with it a weight too large to ignore. The fact that another data set produced such different results, in tandem with bringing to mind all the possible influences on mainstream parties’ manifestos, showcases how the possible influence of far-right parties is difficult to determine.

Another debatable aspect of the question comes with the term “position”. Hitherto, position has been discussed in the sense of ideological position on the political spectrum. However, the position of a party can also be seen in reference to their position in the political system. More simply the mainstream parties’ potential position in government, such as majority or minority party or the opposition party. Similarly, in regards to position in governance, the original ideological position of the party makes a difference as to how they react; leftist parties experience greater opposition whereas right-wing parties experience this whilst also losing potential voters and therefore power. The following two paragraphs highlight the ways that the potential governmental position of a mainstream party is impacted by the success of a far-right party.

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When there are more far-right parties being “successful”, consequently mainstream parties, as well as the far-left parties, must inherently be less successful. The mainstream parties are more likely to be influenced by this as it is unlikely for an individual voter to take such a great leap from the far-left to the far-right. When one considers that many European countries utilise proportional representation the truthfulness of that statement is laid bare, for each percentage point of a far-right party’s success is directly proportional to the amount any other mainstream party loses. Thus, any success of a far-right party is detrimental to a mainstream party’s position in governance. As a result, mainstream parties will find it harder to gain a position of power due to potential voters, voting for these populist, far-right parties.  In many cases this will mean far-right parties will be members of the opposition in government. This is in part due to the proportional representation systems used across consensus democracies in Europe. However, in some cases, such as in Austria, it can also mean they may form the actual government. The Austrian People’s Party (OVP) will likely form a coalition with the FPO (a far-right party) to have a total of 104 seats, following provisional exit poll results, when 92 is a majority. Whilst a minority OVP government is still an alternative (Oltermann, 2017), the FPO’s success has still influenced the governmental position of the OVP. This means the OVP’s position and power in governance is highly influenced by the success of this far-right party.

Moreover, the success of far-right parties can also impact the position of a party in government as it impacts the mainstream party’s reputation. The rise of a far-right party during the tenure of a specific leader can be detrimental to that leader’s reputation, which in turn is often detrimental to the mandate of the party in power. Take for example Angela Merkel, who has been chancellor for Germany since 2005, it has been said that she “has secured a fourth term as German chancellor but with her authority diminished, after… [she] failed to halt the march of rightwing populists” (Connolly, 2017). The rise, rather than the emergence of AfD, under Merkel has threatened the Christian Democratic Union of Germany’s approval and authority in the German political sphere. Alternative für Deutschland achieved a historic third place success, holding 13% of the vote according to exit polls, which marked the first time in almost six decades that an openly nationalist party will enter the Bundestag (Connolly, 2017). The rise of an anti-establishment party under a well cemented member of the establishment, would suggest that Merkel is leading the electorate to become disenchanted with standard democratic institutions.  This obviously reflects poorly on Merkel’s governance and tenure, and overall reduces her authority. Therefore, it is relatively apparent how the rise of any far-right parties under a political agent’s leadership is seen as detrimental to their mandate and character.

To conclude, there are a great deal of theories as to what extent the far-right influences mainstream parties, as explained in this essay with reference to Han, Bale et al and Tavits. However, these theories do not consistently hold true when using other data sets, and fail to look at all the other possible influences that could cause mainstream parties to change. Several academics state the success of far-right parties indubitably impacts both the ideological position (Han, 2015) and position in government of mainstream parties. Ideologically, far-right parties are able to drag right-wing mainstream parties towards the right, but are less effective at pulling left-wing mainstream parties rightwards (Han, 2015) due to historical ideological commitments (Bale et al, 2010). In reference to government, far-right parties are able to influence the position of mainstream parties by taking potential voters reducing their majority, by influencing their position in a coalition and by weakening the authority and perception of their leader. However, as Akkerman states, it is easy to overstate the influence of far-right parties on mainstream parties (Akkerman, 2015). Moreover, to quantify the exact influence that far-right parties have on mainstream parties is impossible; for example it is simply not feasible to state all manifesto changes are as a direct result of their growing influence.


  • Akkerman, T. (2015). “Immigration policy and electoral competition in Western Europe; A fine-grained analysis of party positions over the past two decades”. Party Politics, 21(1), pp.54-67.
  • Bale, T., Green-Pedersen, C., Krouwel, A., Luther, K. and Sitter, N. (2010). “If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them? Explaining Social Democratic Responses to the Challenge from the Populist Radical Right in Western Europe”. Political Studies, 58(3), pp.410-426.
  • Connolly, K. (2017). “German election: Merkel wins fourth term but far-right AfD surges to third”. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  • Han, K. (2014). “The Impact of Radical Right-Wing Parties on the Positions of Mainstream Parties Regarding Multiculturalism”. West European Politics, [online] 38(3), pp.557-576. Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2017].
  • Kollman, K., Miller, J. and Page, S. (1998). “Political Parties and Electoral Landscapes”. British Journal of Political Science, 28(1), pp.139-158.
  • Mudde, C. (1999). The single‐issue party thesis: Extreme right parties and the immigration issue. West European Politics, 22(3), pp.182-197.
  • Oltermann, P. (2017). “Austria’s far-right Freedom party invited to enter coalition talks. The Guardian”. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].
  • Schain, M. (2006). “The extreme-right and immigration policy-making: Measuring direct and indirect effects”. West European Politics, 29(2), pp.270-289.
  • Tavits, M. (2007). “Principle vs. Pragmatism: Policy Shifts and Political Competition”. American Journal of Political Science, 51(1), pp.151-165.
  • Williams, M. (2006). “The impact of radical right-wing parties in West European democracies”. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.12-53.
  • Wright, O. and Cooper, C. (2016). “Brexit: What is it and why are we having an EU referendum?”. The Independent. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Oct. 2017].


s, et al., 2011). Similarly, Bresser-Pereira, 2004, outlines that the main idea of Public Management is that activities that use government or state power should be within the control of the government; the government should mainly finance social, cultural, and scientific activities involving externalities and dealing with basic human rights, while a public non-government service should execute them. Whereas public management reform is concerned with the political character of government officials’ decisions (Bresser-Pereira, 2004). There are three common areas associated public management which are Principal Agent problem, described as a main ‘Principal’ choosing an incentive scheme to maximise expected utility subject to the agent’s utility being at one singular point (Grossman and Hart, 1983). However, in the case of politics and the public sector it is argued that the government set the rules and incentives for the public managers to implement (Blaug, et al., 2006). New Public Management theory is the next area associated, this theory takes commonly used practices from Private Sector management and applies it to the public sector. As described by Larbi, 2009, NPM reforms shift the emphasis from traditional public administration to public management. Key elements include decentralizing management within public services, increasing the use of competition in the provision of public services, and increasing emphasis on performance, outputs and customer orientation (Larbi, 2009). Lastly, Public Value theory,described as a technical idea that can be used to measure and guide government performance; it asks what ‘value’ is added by any given policy or programme, beyond simple monetary costs and benefits (Moore, 2017). Each of these theories and problems were introduced and faced by different governments, who were in charge, in the UK at different times which inevitably effected public management reform in different ways. In this essay I will run through a timeline of a series of events starting with the creation of the NHS, a brief run through of a period of stability in public reform, leading onto then the Thatcher reign and the implications of her more extreme approaches on public reform. This then leads into ‘Labour’s private paid partnership disaster’ (Benjamin and Jones, 2017) and again I will highlight the implications this then had on the public sector and therefore then, public management reforms. Next, I will run through the Great Financial Crash and how the Government’s recovery methods influenced public management reform. Finally, I will conclude with whether I believe politics has influenced public management reform in the past 70 years or not.

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“The NHS remains a tax funded service, that provides comprehensive, universal health care that is free at the point of delivery. The values that inspired the founding fathers and shaped the NHS in the first place, still drive the service and command support from across the whole political spectrum,” (Klein, 2006). The NHS was launched on the 5th of July 1948. It was introduced by, the then, Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevin of the Labour Party. The current Prime minister at this time was Clement Attlee of the Labour Party, also. Attlee was keen to try and reduce post war austerity as much as possible; he nationalised major industries, like coal and steel and public services like the railways, while also starting to build a welfare state which included free healthcare for everyone in the UK through the NHS. The NHS was the biggest change that Attlee brought about to challenge the post war austerity, at the time of its creation it was a unique example of healthcare in a market society (Klein, 2006). The introduction of the NHS and nationalisation of the previously mentioned services, described as the greatest socialist achievement of the labour party (Klein, 2006), led to huge implications to public management. Firstly, the public management’s measurement of success would have completely changed. Before the NHS there was private healthcare which you either paid for or paid for health insurance to cover these expenses. If you could not afford this, you would have to use ‘voluntary hospitals’; these were for the ‘sick poor’ and made inequal and biased decisions on which patients should get which medicine and/or treatment. Health care managers previous to the introduction of the NHS would have been measured off efficiency and their ability to cut costs and therefore meaning their profitability. With the introduction of the NHS, health care management was reformed, and success measurements would be based off variables closer to customer satisfaction and maintaining a strong and reliable reputation in the public eye. Healthcare success was previously measured off the number of patients treated daily, with the introduction of the NHS success is measured by patient experience, short and long term performance, capability for change and the number of patients successfully treated (Howells, 2015). Another major reform to public management in public health care would be transparency, especially concerning the voluntary hospitals from before the NHS. It’s believed that if patients are made aware of all healthcare possibly available they will make more informed decisions and drive a higher level of healthcare in the long run (Spivey and McDonald, 2007); highlighting how Atlee’s Labour Party led to public management reforms especially in the health care sector through the forms of transparency, but mainly performance measurement, which resulted in public managers’ to completely change their management strategies from profitability to a more ethical standpoint in order to meet their new goals of success in the NHS.

Moving on from Attlee’s reign there was a period, from 1951 – 1964, of fairly stable public management reform. Following on from Attlee, Sir Winston Churchill, of the Conservative Party, again, came to power from 1951 – 1955. After Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden was next in charge from 1955 – 1957, also of the Conservative Party. Eden’s successor was Harold Macmillan; he was Prime Minister from 1957 -1963, again from the Conservative Party. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, also from the Conservative Party, followed on from Macmillan as Prime Minster from October 1963 to October 1964. The next four successors of Attlee were of the Conservative Party and had all criticised Attlee and his ‘socialistic’ reforms. In a speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Churchill described Socialism as having its own formulas and aims. Stating that Socialism would pull down wealth, destroy private interests, kill enterprise and attack capital (Churchill, 1908). However, no matter what criticisms the Conservative successors had for Attlee’s ‘socialistic’ reforms they still didn’t implement any new, major public policies themselves which resulted in the stable period of public management reforms. Although, nothing massive happened in these years it can be said that no political influence, like public policy changes, can also lead to no reforms in public management, possibly highlighting how political influence is a key variable in order to drive change in public management.

Margaret Thatcher was appointed as the Chief Education officer by, then, Prime minister Edward Heath; one of her unpopular suggestions while in this role was the return of selective secondary schooling and the drive for further privatisation of education services (Griffin, 2002). These reforms were a brief insight into the changes she would soon make as Prime Minister; one of the most key areas of public management reform of the last seventy years coincides with Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister. Thatcher was the Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990; in her time in charge she managed to privatise industries, like the energy industries, and privatised services, such as the railways; she believed that privatisation was key for the UK to economically thrive. Previous to Thatcher, the main political parties, Labour and The Conservatives, had encouraged Keynesian themes, the growth of the Welfare State, nationalising industries and services and keeping taxes high. Although, Thatcher has never rejected wartime foundations of the welfare state (Moore, 2013), through Thatcherism she had systematically and decisively overhauled the post war consensus established by Attlee and this would lead to major public management reforms (Moore, 2013). Through Thatcherism, Thatcher was able to drive the theory of ‘New Public Management’, Kajimbwa, 2013, describes it as having multiple different levels. First level being the deregulation of management structures and financial management, secondly the conversion of government departments into privatised agencies; managers are now assessed on their performance through the evaluation of outputs rather than inputs. Thirdly, the introduction of competition within monopolised markets (Kajimbwa, 2013). Thatcher had believed that markets such as the railways and energy had become monopolies with very little competition. No competition meant that managers were able to get away with providing lazy and inadequate services and since their performance was not measured on outputs nothing was being flagged as there was nothing to go against.

Legislation, Thatcher had imposed, on Trade Unions meant that they would have less powers (Griffin, 2002); meaning that managers’ subordinates had less bargaining power when it came to wages as they would have limited support from the Trade Unions now. This legislation implemented, onto the trade Unions, reformed public management in the fact that managers were able to cut costs allowing them to make more efficient decisions, which was crucial as their performance was now being assessed on outputs like profit and revenue turnover meaning public management performance was now based a lot closer to the, previously mentioned, Public Value Theory. The Thatcher era was a period of substantial, long-term changes to public financial management and accounting procedures (Barzelay 2001); Thatcher also wanted to distance the government as far as possible from these new privatised branches; the implementation of non-departmental public bodies in which public services now had to go through for funding, meant that the government now had little say as to how funding was spent. These financial bodies, again, reformed the way managers now had to acquire funding. “Among other things, gentle administration was changing to hardnosed management, budgets had to be justified, and costs were becoming a real part of the equation. This led to strained relationships between managers seeking greater productivity and doctors feeling they were doing all that could be done with the available resources,” (Ham, 2002) different departments would have pitched against each other as to why one should get more of a share over another, this would have required the manager to be able to highlight the importance of their department being able to turnover a profit while also being able to adequately provide a service to the public in order to receive the desired funding. Also, having the non-departmental public bodies meant that the Principal Agent theory comes into play; if there are any mistakes made by a public service the non-government bodies, or in this instance the ‘principals’, would be held accountable, due to insufficient and asymmetric information the government now had, by the public or ‘agents’ (Walsh, 1995). This again is another public management reform as public managers will now be more accountable for their actions rather than the government taking the majority of the blame from the public; this meant managers had to be more cautious in their decision making but also had to be sure the decision they made would align with their output performance goals. Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister has notably had a huge influence on public management reforms through the forms of privatisation, implementation of ‘NPM’ strategies and the introduction of legislation on Trade Unions; this is another reason as to why politics over the past 70 years has had a huge influence on public management reforms.

Another milestone in public management reform in the UK was Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ policies. Blair introduced ‘New Labour’ as a sign to show the public that Labour have started to tear away from their more traditional, socialistic policies. One way to do this was through the use of ‘Private Public Partnerships’; this was at the centre of Blair’s attempt to revive the UK public services and make the best use of the taxpayers’ money. Any collaboration between public services or the central government, with private firms is what can be described as a Private Public Partnership (BBC, 2003), whereas the UK government describes Private Public Partnerships to cover a range of business structures and partnerships, to the Private Finance Initiatives to joint ventures, to outsourcing and to the sale of stakes in state-owned businesses (Treasury, 2000). Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’s’ reliance on PPP’s in an attempt to add value through greater cooperation between private and public sectors (Steijn, et al., 2011), led to public management reforms in the UK; The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants describe PPPs to be the fourth most influential factor on public management reforms (ACCA, 2016). Public managers now have responsibilities split between themselves and the managers of the contracted, private firms in these partnerships (Verweij, Teisman and Gerrits, 2016), this can create conflicts of interest between public managers and private managers, one is looking to provide a complete, adequate service for the public while the other is looking for efficiency and increased profit margins. In order for public managers to compete with PPPs it has been said that they would have to improve efficiency as it’s believed private firms are generally more efficient; however, this is not the case, studies show private operators are no more efficient, and often create inefficiencies (Hall, 2015). PPP’s also challenge public managers’ forecasting abilities, unforeseen circumstances can come from physical sources, like unstable ground conditions. They can also originate from social sources, such as dissatisfied stakeholders, like taxpayers or the government, or changing laws and policies (Verweij, Teisman and Gerrits, 2016). Private firms are mostly concerned with profit, driving efficiency and cutting costs, this would have led to some questionable decisions when it comes to some of the private firms’ decisions. Conflicts of interest and ‘dodgy’ decisions made in a PPP between Northern Ireland’s Events Company and, private contractor, Joe Cockburn, resulted in a company getting a contract due to personal relationships and resulted in the company building a Motocross track that was used once then dismantled as it was built on cheap land not fit for purpose. This highlights how, Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ and their PPPs have reformed how public management in the fact that public and private managers would now have greater conflicts of interest and public managers would now need to deal with this ethically. While forecasting and damage control abilities, if something goes wrong, are now also key.

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The Great Recession was a period of worldwide economic downturn that started in 2008. At the time Gordon Brown, of the Labour Party, was in the Prime Minister role. Initially, Brown continued to invest money into the public sector, in fact, public sector wages continued to grow, from 2008 – 2010, at a rate very close to the inflation rate of 5% at the time (Milne, 2017). In contrast, private sector workers wages were sticky and rose at 1%, much lower than the inflation rate. The public sector wage structure would have incentivised private sector managers to try and get a job within the public sector in order to receive a better and more secure pay, as many public sector worker’s wages were agreed in a 3-year deal (Milne, 2017). In 2008, a dip in productivity was experienced across the UK as so many people were now out of jobs, especially in the private sector (UKCES, 2014). A new, high quality supply of labour from the private sector now interested in public sector work would have led to small reforms in public management; public managers would now have to improve performance to remain favourable over tough competition form the private sector. Improving performance would mean increasing efficiency, cutting costs and driving a higher revenue turnover, depending on what public sector they were working within and what performance goals were set. In 2010, David Cameron took over as Prime Minister and, in an attempt, to increase the rate of spending in the UK he cut taxes, which freed up some income for the population, but he also cut spending for public departments. Local councils and public services began to struggle a bit more as they didn’t have the same funding as before. To tackle the budget cuts, local councils saw that cracking down on the level of fraud and debts owed to them was key (Hopkins, 2009). These budget cuts, again, would have resulted in public management reforms in the way they would now have to deal with clients and the general public a lot differently. At the time Charlotte Hogg, Managing Director of Experian, stated that it was important for the departments and local councils to understand the specific local challenges and they needed to respond to them in very specific ways (Hopkins, 2009), managers would have to have become more ‘cost-weary’ in order to allow their department to survive; ruthlessness would also have been a strong trait to have when chasing clients for money and when making decisions for where money should be spent and where to make cuts. Again, this highlights how the government and politics during the recession were a major influence in public management reform in the UK.

“Management changes within the public sector cannot be satisfactorily understood as some set of floating phenomena. Instead, they require to be interpreted as one element in a broader shift in the pattern of political problems and responses. In short, public management is always a part of the broader agenda of public governance,” (Pollit and Bouckaert, 2017), similar to Pollit and Bouckaert’s views on the relation of public management and politics, I too believe that politics has a major influence on public management reform. With the Brexit deadline impending on the UK, I believe that politics again will have a massive influence on how public managers reform to the changes it will bring. With negotiations still ongoing, there’s a lot of unknown decisions that will have to be made in the wake of the deal (Walker Morris, 2017), and these decisions then too will result changes to in the public sector, as this is one of the sectors with the highest amount of EU regulations against it (Walker Morris,  2017), which will require public managers to change with them. One of the main issues for the public sector will be funding after Brexit; it is said the membership fee that is paid into the EU from the UK will likely cover any costs that the EU have covered in the UK public sector previously. However, research shows that there is a spending bias towards London (Walker Morris, 2017), and if this continues after Brexit, the public sector outside of London could struggle and may result in managers having to cut down on certain resources and possibly result in the loss of some jobs. A spending bias would result in managers outside of London having to reform due to less budgets, this could result in managers having to become even more strategic and moneywise in order to stretch their funding as far as possible while still delivering a desirable service. Once again, this highlights how politics, and the decision to hold a referendum that has resulted in Brexit, will result in further reforms for public management in the future. To conclude, I believe that, yes, politics has had a huge influence on public management reform over the past 70 years, as Pollit and Bouckaert, 2017, state that public management requires the acquiescence, and more usually, the active support of leading politicians (Pollit and Bouckaert, 2017), and as politicians make reforms in public policies, public mangers then too also have to reform in order to remain successful.


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