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At Power's Elbow: aides to the prime minister from Robert Walpole to David Cameron

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Andrew Blick and George Jones
Biteback Publishing (5 September 2013)

Discreet, inconspicuous, prudent… The perfect prime-ministerial aide is always in the background, a low-profile figure unknown outside the Westminster bubble. Unfortunately, reality often falls short of the ideal; for as long as the office of Prime Minister has existed, its occupants have been supported by a range of colourful individuals who have garnered public interest, controversy and criticism.

At Power’s Elbow tells their story for the first time, uncovering the truth behind three centuries’ worth of prime ministers and their aides. Its subjects range from the early media-managers and election-fixers of Sir Robert Walpole, to the teams supporting the wartime premierships of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, to the semi-official ‘Department of the Prime Minister’ established under Tony Blair.

Along the way, Andrew Blick and George Jones demonstrate how these essential advisers can be a source of both solace and strife to their chiefs, solving and causing problems in almost equal measure. Above all, they reveal how a Prime Minister’s approach to his staff can define his premiership, for better or for worse.

  • George Jones has been Emeritus Professor of Government at LSE since 2003 and was Professor of Government between 1976 and 2003.

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Reviews

"There are no more effective shiners of flashlights to hidden back rooms than Blick and Jones and there is no more important back room than the Prime Minister’s in 10 Downing Street. From Walpole to Cameron the authors anatomise in meticulous detail the development of what might well now be described as a Prime Minister’s department that dare not speak its name."
Lord Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary, University of London

"It is a major work, impressive in its scope and the depth of its analysis and understanding. Nothing will replace it."
Lord Donoughue, senior policy adviser to Harold Wilson and James Callaghan

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At Power's Elbow