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At Power's Elbow


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Speaker(s): Dr Andrew Blick, Bernard Donoughue, Professor George Jones
Chair: Professor Tony Travers

Recorded on 13 November 2013 in D202, Clement House.

Discreet, inconspicuous, prudent... the perfect Prime Ministerial aide should always be in the background, a low-profile figure unknown outside the Westminster bubble. When reality falls short of the ideal – as when Cameron’s head of communications Andy Coulson was arrested in connection with the News of the World phone hacking affair – the impact upon the Prime Minister can be drastic. However, for as long as there has been a Prime Minister, he or she has depended on the help of a cast of supporting actors who have courted acclaim and scandal in equal measure. 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. Packed with unusual characters, this is a fascinating peek at the power behind the political throne – the history of the most mysterious and misunderstood job in British politics.

Andrew Blick is Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies, King’s College London. He has worked as an assistant in the Prime Minister’s Office and has written extensively about British Politics.

George Jones has been Emeritus Professor of Government at LSE since 2003 and was Professor of Government between 1976 and 2003. He has written and edited a number of books on British government.

Bernard Donoughue was a senior adviser to the Labour governments of 1974-79. He is a businessman and author and was created a life peer in 1985.

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