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Mandarin intellectuals

Stuffed full of Locke-quoting philosophers and particle physicists, the civil service elite is the last refuge of the British intellectual. But given recent examples of Whitehall maladministration, is this to be celebrated?

By Emran Mian   July 2006

It happened for the first time a fortnight after I joined. I was sitting at my desk reading when a colleague leaned over and asked: “What was your topic?” “Excuse me?” I replied. “I have a PhD too,” he said. “What was the title of your thesis?” I was surprised, as I had kept quiet about my doctorate; the colleague must have spoken to my manager, who had seen my personnel file. I had thought that my postgraduate past was something I should hide, that it might identify me as impractical, stuffy, cerebral. But then I had a series of…

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