Sajid Javid has resigned as Chancellor rather than sack his Special Advisers, but who are Special Advisers?

Special Advisers – or SpAds as they known in political circles – are a small number of political advisers appointed by each Secretary of State to serve that Cabinet Minister only for the duration of that minister being in the office.

Some have specialist knowledge of the subject matter of the Government Department headed by their boss, while others have more general acumen in politics and communications. They are supporters of the political party in government and are loyal to the Secretary of State who appointed them – which is why Javid rightly refused to dismiss his own advisers and work with advisers appointed by No. 10.

Special Advisers are usually most effective when they are low profile and do not cause problems in public for their Secretary of State. Dominc Cummings is clearly out of the mould and is behind the current shock resignation of Javid.

I was a Special Adviser in two Departments in the Wilson/Callaghan Governments, while both my son and my daughter-in-law each served in two Departments in the Blair/Brown Governments – all these Departments being different.

The definitive history of Special Advisers was written by Andrew Blick and published as “People Who Live In The Dark”. You can read my review of this work here.


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