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A false economy

The coalition’s vow to limit the number of special advisers was a mistake. We need more of them

By Janan Ganesh   March 2011

Before bankers and freeloading MPs took over as Britain’s villains du jour, special advisers were viewed as dimly as any species of public life: shifty puppet-masters who spun to voters and charged them for the service. In the giddy early days of the coalition, the promise to limit the number of these political appointees in government seemed to capture the twin moods of austerity and “new politics” quite neatly.

The decision has been privately cursed by ministers ever since, however, who liken it to unilateral disarmament. Many find themselves isolated in their departments, short of staff who are both able…

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