Review of ‘Special Advisers: Who they are, what they do and why they matter’ by Ben Yong and Robert Hazell (Hart). Originally published in The Political Quarterly, Vol. 86, №4, Oct-Dec 2015. The definitive version is available at More on special advisers on the Institute for Government website.

‘Spad’ is one of the punctuation marks of anti-politics polemic, near onomatopoeic in the way it is spat out. This abbreviation for special advisers — temporary civil servants appointed directly by ministers — breaks up many a sentence about the decline of trust and increase in incompetence that supposedly define our…

Gavin Freeguard

Programme director leading on data and digital government at the Institute for Government. Also

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