Neo-liberalism has been in the news. Colin Crouch’s The strange non-death of neo-liberalism [Cambridge: The Polity Press 2011] provides an interesting analysis of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the challenges it poses. He places the crisis in the context of the history of western political economy with particular attention to the period from the 1970s onwards when the ideas of neo-liberalism came to dominance. Whatever the particularities of our history, we are part of that history; its problems and the response to them, are, in large part, our problems and our responses. His account merits our attention.
In my first post, I outlined the difficulties and incoherencies in the conduct of our politics that contributed to the crisis. In particular, I drew attention to the limitations of the ‘genre’ in which Ministers and civil servants cooperated. The ‘court’ model was, I suggested, no longer working. In this part, I attempt to make good that claim by showing how the quite dramatic changes in our political landscape that became manifest in 1980s have undermined the genre. I do this in two sections. In the first, I outline what the changes have been in terms of the strategy, culture and structure of the state. Having done that, I am in a position to discuss the consequences of the changes for democracy in general and the civil service-political interface in particular.