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The heart of power

Downing Street’s iconic facade masks a dysfunctional centre of government. A major refit is needed to ensure the next prime minister can be a 21st-century leader

By Anthony Seldon   May 2010

Rear view of Nos 10, 11 & 12 Downing Street, from a 1949 illustration. Click here for a key

The black door to No 10 is the most renowned portal in Britain. But what goes on behind it? Inside is an improbable office for a prime minister, where the 17th century meets the 21st. In 1997 a member of Tony Blair’s team, used to the open-plan offices at Labour HQ, found No 10 “too genteel and peaceful, the place too compartmentalised” to direct the transformation of Britain. Stephen Carter, brought in by Gordon Brown in 2008 to run No 10,…

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