The Civil Service


Acting as the permanent bureaucracy that forms the basis of the British system of governance, the Civil Service runs in tandem with the ruling party of the day.

Made up of employees of the Crown whose role is to assist in the business of government, the key element of the Civil Service is its political impartiality - vital because of the fact that civil servants retain their jobs when a new government is elected - in fact, various rules and responsibilities that come with the job are in place for the very reason of protecting civil servants from political influence.

Very much seen as a job for life, civil servants carry out much of the minutiae of government so as to free up ministers to deal with larger issues.

The Civil Service's feted impartiality is in stark contrast to the American system of appointment, in the British system only the highest posts are elected and Civil Servants can, and occasionally are, called to account in the Commons.

Having said this, it has been remarked that the Civil Service's neutrality has begun to be compromised of late with a marked increase in appointments of governmental special advisors, some of whose roles would otherwise have been carried out by Civil Servants.

Much reduced under the Tory administration of Margaret Thatcher, the Civil Service has not always been seen as a positive force in British politics and subsequent governments have sought to restrict its powers.