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Revolving doors and dogs with rubber teeth
John Bowers

There is now increased porosity in the boundary between the state and business, although some movement between private and public sector is by no means new. This used to be primarily at senior levels: for example, Edward Heath as Prime Minister brought in Derek Rayner from Marks and Spencer to advise on efficiency in the public sector. At the moment, there is an abundance of rules on the employment of those leaving public office, although only for ministers and those in the upper echelons of the civil service, and the rules are not necessarily meaningfully enforced. The system is presided over by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which can only advise and offers little by way of strategy. The Nolan Committee concluded that the system for civil servants after they left public service was tested and could be easily adopted for ministers.

in Downward spiral
PPE
John Bowers

Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) increased exponentially in England from March 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. The Department of Health and Social Care spent more than £13 billion on PPE during the period. The National Audit Office is the institutional hero of the general PPE tale, because it brought it to light by meticulous work over many months. But, as in other scandals, no one in government was really held to account, even though many health and other workers died because PPE was either missing or inadequate. The conduct of various Parliamentarians came under the spotlight. The House of Lords Committee on Standards launched an investigation into Lord Chadlington for breaching financial conduct rules relating to the award of £50 million worth of government contracts: one for £23.9 million for supply of coveralls and another for £26.1 million for hand sanitiser.

in Downward spiral
Ermined disgraces
John Bowers

Consisting of an eclectic mix of nearly 800 Members as of July 2023, the House of Lords is the second largest legislature in the world, after the National People’s Congress of China. The most egregious failure of due diligence in recent times occurred in the case of Lord Lebedev. What is unprecedented here is that Johnson pursued a nomination when the House of Lords Appointments Committee (HoLAC) said ‘no no no’, and the security services apparently had concerns too. HoLAC is an independent, non-statutory, advisory, non-departmental public body with some independents and three members nominated by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. It was established in May 2000 as an interim measure, pending Lords reform, which was envisaged by the then Prime Minister (Tony Blair). Its primary role is to recommend at least two people a year for appointment as non-party-politicals, who sit on the cross-benches.

in Downward spiral
John Bowers

Lying has been an enduring and encompassing theme of Boris Johnson’s career. He also has an anarchist tendency: he is a disruptor who is into breaking things, as can be seen most clearly over Brexit. Johnson represented a new variant of populist politics with a strain of celebrity to it, and in this he resembled Donald Trump. Johnson’s sporadic relationship with the truth was ‘priced in’ when he was selected as Conservative Party leader in 2019 and then elected by the people with an eighty-seat majority. There are two areas that show the extent to which Johnson disrespected standards in public life, the first of which registered with the public quite low on the Richter scale of scandals, but the second of which really burst through and nearly finished him off. Under Johnson, political deceit became not just commonplace but almost, it seemed, an automatic reaction.

in Downward spiral
John Bowers

Corruption has always existed in British politics, and it has never been confined to one party. The eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s government were generally scandal free, leaving John Major with a hard act to follow. He was considered a reliable figure, and pushed a wide-ranging agenda of so-called ‘back to basics’ in an attempt to reassert what some described as ‘Victorian values’. First there was the arms-to-Iraq affair, in which it was revealed that the government had endorsed sales of British-made armaments to the regime of Saddam Hussein. In October 1994, Major called in the senior law lord Lord Nolan to investigate the ‘standards of conduct of all public office-holders’. The first Nolan Report considered standards in the House of Commons, central government (ministers and civil servants) and non-departmental public bodies. Tony Blair seemed to be a new type of politician.

in Downward spiral
Florina Cristiana Matei

This chapter explores the policy and institutional transformations associated with interagency cooperation and coordination among the various components of the Chilean security sector (armed forces, police, intelligence agencies), as well as between these agencies and their foreign counterparts. The chapter argues that Chile’s transition to democracy has brought about considerable changes in civil-military relations, including improving interagency processes within the realm of defence and security – domestically and even more prominently, internationally – yet there is still room for improvement. The current main roles of the Chilean armed forces – which include safeguarding national sovereignty, preserving territorial inviolability, and ensuring the safety of the national population – have been devised with an interagency context in mind, whereby, domestically, the military indirectly supports the Chilean security and public safety institutions, whereas internationally, the Chilean military cooperates with international coalition forces. The chapter concludes that policy instruments, such as the Defence White Book, providing an overview of the defence sector’s legal basis, policies, and capabilities, have set the stage for military support to civilian authorities. Civilian and military leadership remain committed to investing in interagency cooperation in the field of security and defence in the short run, due to the increasingly interconnected and network-centric nature of the security threats and the subsequent call for more network-like security institutions, which the Chilean civil-military elites equally prioritise.

in Governing the military
A few issues of decline and a few insidious features
John Bowers

The Civil Service Commission’s primary job is to safeguard an impartial and effective civil service and to ensure appointments are made on merit. The Commission’s existence and role were enshrined in legislation in 2010. The spadocracy is an important element in the civil service’s ‘loss of mojo’, also known as the loss of the sense of being trusted by ministers. The relations between ministers and senior officials are often tense but may turn toxic (as was the case with Sir Philip Rutnam and Priti Patel at the Home Office). But past sporadic fallings-out are nothing compared with the wholesale warehouse clearance that took place in the early stages of the Johnson government. Another indicative feature of poor relationships is the increasing use of Ministerial Directions to direct civil servants. This use indicates that the politicians are not accepting the advice of civil servants.

in Downward spiral
Harold Trinkunas

This chapter discusses the obstacles to progress in democratic civilian control of the military in Latin America. It examine the challenges and opportunities facing democratic civil-military relations in three tiers of countries: consolidated democracies with attention deficits; struggling democracies at risk of being overwhelmed by criminality; and populist regimes sliding into authoritarianism. It argues that even in the most stable and prosperous democracies, civilian ‘attention deficits’ persist despite both normative and policy reasons to overcome them. In the upper-middle income consolidated democracies of the region, such as Chile, the problem remains mostly one of civilian inattention. In the second tier are largely smaller countries close to the main routes of international drug trafficking from the northern Andes through Central America and the Caribbean into the United States and Europe, which experience much more immediate security threats from organised crime and drug trafficking. Finally, there is a third set of states in the region in which the rise of elected populist leaders has led in some cases to the erosion of democracy, and where a combination of weak checks and balances and military quiescence created permissive conditions under which nascent authoritarian regimes consolidated their authority. The chapter’s conclusion considers the past and future of democratic civil-military relations, considering the findings from contemporary Latin America.

in Governing the military
Two success stories
John Bowers

There is a cluster of independent offices on the ground floor of 1 Horse Guards Road. The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) resides there, along with the Civil Service Commission, the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. The CSPL is generally a story of success, and it is enjoying a particularly strong period at present. Arguably the Committee’s most valuable role in the last decade is that of a long-term public institutional memory for handling standards issues across all areas of public life. The National Audit Office (NAO) is an independent Parliamentary body that is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies. In 2020, the NAO’s work led to a positive financial impact through reduced costs, improved service delivery or other benefits to citizens, to the tune of £926 million.

in Downward spiral
Abstract only
Advancing the governance of the military
Carlos Solar

This concluding chapter summarises the critical aspects of the governance of the military under democracy covered in the book. It provides final explanations to how governing the military is influenced and shaped by issues of democracy, governance, and policymaking. The chapter sheds light on the most relevant explanatory outcomes identified in the book that were considered critical, but suggests that improvements are necessary: directing attention to civil-military relations; expanding subordination to civilians; defining missions and roles; augmenting control and effectiveness; controlling expenditure; enhancing interagency collaboration; finding a purpose for international engagements; and generating transparency and integrity. The chapter concludes three main points to advance the governance of the armed forces. Firstly, because the Chilean military was so crucial in dealing with the external threats of the Cold War, turning the page to the new security scenario after democratisation posited more relevant questions stressing the governance efforts to politically manage the military. Secondly, there is uncertainty towards what roles the military should take under foreign and domestic missions, on the one hand, and whether civilians have enough expertise and independence to lead the military when societal pressures seem most intense. Finally, a convergence of views between civilians and the military show that there is willingness, maybe not uniformly across the board, to agree on proposals that a decade-and-a-half ago would have found considerable opposition (i.e., autonomy over military affairs, transparency on operations and internal governance, among others). Chilean elected authorities have tightened their grip, making the transition to democracy substantially more successful through hindering, whenever possible, military prerogatives to strengthen democratic practices.

in Governing the military