‘What would have to change for people in 2024 to say that Boris Johnson has delivered his promises?’

Sir Michael Barber, Tony Blair’s ‘guru of deliverology’, has been drafted in by the Conservative government. John Rentoul reports on his class at King’s College London this week

Friday 19 February 2021 15:45 GMT
<p>Sir Michael Barber, ‘guru of deliverology’</p>

Sir Michael Barber, ‘guru of deliverology’

Conservative prime ministers have discovered the hard way that Tony Blair was right. One of Blair’s most successful innovations was the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, which in his second term helped to ensure that higher public spending on the NHS, schools and police resulted in better outcomes for citizens.

Sir Michael Barber, the head of the delivery unit, had a unique approach to the job that was the secret of the unit’s success, and it is no surprise that David Cameron came to regret abolishing the unit – and that Sir Michael is now back in 10 Downing Street advising Boris Johnson, who has asked him to carry out a “rapid review of government delivery to ensure it remains focused, effective and efficient”.

So when Sir Michael this week joined the class on “The Blair Years” that I co-teach at King’s College London with Jon Davis and Michelle Clement, he was bound to be asked about his work for the current prime minister. One of our students asked him if he could say what advice he was giving to the Johnson government.

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