Our woke civil service is frustrating democracy

A "regime of managers" is taking hold

In 1941, an American author called James Burnham wrote a very perceptive book called “The Managerial Revolution”. Basically, he said that “regime of managers” was taking over the world. Meaning, in government, civil servants and, in business, the managers in the classical sense.

They were taking away power from the politicians (the representatives of the people) and from the business owners.

The result is a self-centred short-termism. This is on full display in the examples described by Ian Acheson here. He mentions the scandal of the Tavistock Centre for gender-identity services.

During her time as equalities minister, Badenoch was assured by senior officials that everything was just fine at the clinic and that there was more than a hint of ‘transphobia’ in the many concerning reports that were leaking out. She writes that she was advised ‘repeatedly’ that meeting Keira Bell, one of the victims of this state-funded ideology, would be ‘inappropriate’.

This is a familiar theme from my years as a senior government official. Civil servants will sometimes do everything possible to stop or at least slow the designs of the elected politicians who are supposed to be running their departments.


This Whitehall groupthink will be a problem for the new administration when we get our next prime minister. Many senior public-sector leaders now take their instructions on policy from internal networks of activists. This is not endemic, but it is entrenched. Myriad publicly funded pressure groups, like Stonewall, are now a part of the policymaking machine. But even the current government’s efforts to divest from them will not be enough. Officials that don’t agree are still held in thrall to these groups through fear of career-cancelling allegations of anything ending in ‘phobia’.