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The Westminster Model and the Civil Service

2. Arguments For and Against

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think of the arguments for and against the Westminster model, focusing in particular on: (i) the longevity of the Westminster Model; (ii) the flexibility afforded by an unwritten constitution; (iii) its tendency to produce strong and stable governments; (iv) its efficiency; (v) its accountability; (vi) its (perceived) outdatedness and inability to deal with the circumstances of modern Britain; (vii) the potential confusion associated with an unwritten constitution; and (viii) the problems associated with power being centralised in Westminster.


In this course, Dr Patrick Diamond (Queen Mary, University of London) explores the parliamentary system of government known as the Westminster Model, with a focus in the second half of the course on one of its central pillars: a permanent, independent civil service. In the first module, we think about the central characteristics of the Westminster Model – its core principles, how it operates, how it’s evolved historically, and how it’s currently understood. After that, in the second module, we think about the arguments for and against the Westminster Model. In the third module, we divide the supporters and critics of the Westminster Model into four ‘camps’, each of which has a different view of the merits of the Westminster Model and how (if at all) it should be changed. In the fourth module, we think about one of the central institutions of the Westminster Model, the Civil Service, before turning in the fifth and final module to consider the challenges and criticisms faced by the Civil Service in the past few decades and how it has adapted and continues to adapt as a result.


Patrick Diamond is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in the comparative study of the core executive and civil service, policy advice systems, social democratic ideology in the EU and the British Labour party. Between 2002-10, he held a number of senior posts in British central government between 2000 and 2010, and was formally Head of Policy Planning in 10 Downing Street. His recent publications include The End of Whitehall: Government by Permanent Campaign (2018) and Endgame for the Centre-Left: The Retreat of European Social Democracy (2016).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Diamond, P. (2020, February 21). The Westminster Model and the Civil Service - Arguments For and Against [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Diamond, P. "The Westminster Model and the Civil Service – Arguments For and Against." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Feb 2020,