UK Government Special Advisers

From Powerbase
(Redirected from Special Adviser)
Jump to: navigation, search

Special advisers are temporary civil servants, exempted from normal civil service impartiality requirements in order to allow them to give political advice to Ministers.[1] Since 1997 there have been a number of moves to increase their ability to direct permanent civil servants.[2]

Whilst there had been Special Advisers employed by Governments in the past, their numbers increased by a huge amount under Tony Blair, rising to a total of 80 in November 2001. Tony Blair had 29, mainly in the new Downing Street Policy Directorate and his Strategic Communications Unit.

The bill for these Advisers was £4.4 million in 2001, making the average salary nearly £60,000. The total salary bill for Tony Blair's private office was £10.8 million in 1999. The pay of most Advisers is kept secret, but it is known that both Alastair Campbell, Blair's Press Secretary and Jonathan Powell, Downing Street Chief of Staff, were paid more than £120,000.

Although such Advisers hold a huge amount of power, none of them are elected and very few of their jobs are advertised - they are all political appointees.

Many former advisers to the Labour Party have moved on to very well-paid jobs with lobbying and PR companies.[3] Tim Allan, a former Downing Street Adviser, became Director of Corporate Communications for Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB. Anji Hunter, Tony Blair's former 'Gatekeeper' private secretary, took over as director of dommunications at BP on a salary of £200,000,[4] and now works as a consultant to the lobbying firm Edelman.

Like the majority of the Labour Government, most of the Special Advisers have been to Oxford or Cambridge Universities. Several Advisers have been friends with senior Labour Party figures for many years, others are partners of millionaires or bosses and all come from a self-perpetuating middle class elite that thrives on patronage, using it to by-pass the grubby world of democracy and slip into positions of power and influence. When the 2001 election was called, most of the Government's Special Advisers resigned, mainly to work in the election campaign. Most returned to their jobs, although some lost their patron Minister in the June 2001 reshuffle and moved into the private sector. For full details, check out the Former Advisers section.

Some advisers have now moved on to safe Labour seats, vacated by long-standing MPs who were given peerages to get them out of the way, including David Miliband, James Purnell and Andy Burnham, all former members of the Downing Street Policy Unit.

See the Resources section for internal links to the relevant pages of the special advisers in each government.


Special Advisers by government

Special Advisers by year

External resources


  1. Code of Conduct for Special Advisors, Cabinet Office, accessed 21 July 2009.
  2. Special Advisers - What are they?,, accessed 21 July 2009.
  3. Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government, briefing for GMB, April 2006, p.4.
  4. Where are they now? The 1997/1998 Special Advisers to the Labour Government, briefing for GMB, April 2006, p.5.