The decline of patronage in the United Kingdom
The number of quasi-autonomous agencies, boards and commissions within British government has grown markedly in the last three decades, provoking anxiety about the re-emergence of a “patronage state.” In the current issue of Governance, Matthew Flinders challenges the conventional wisdom, arguing that “the recent history of patronage in the UK is a narrative of shrinking reach and diluted permeation.” This is largely because of the expanding role of the Office of the Commissioner of Public Appointments, a post created in 1995,and the subsequent creation of bodies with similar powers in specific policy fields. “The creation of OCPA,” says Flinders, “marked the beginning . . . of a period of rapid reform of patronage in the UK.” Read more: The Politics of Patronage in the United Kingdom: Shrinking Reach and Diluted Permeation, in 22.4 (October 2009).