Instruction to Deliver


Sir Michael Barber

22/05/2008 | Paperback |

ISBN: 9780413776648

About Instruction to Deliver


'An astonishingly good read ... full of telling vignettes'

Independent on Sunday


In Tony Blair's first term (1997–2001) much was promised in reform of public services, but relatively little achieved, except perhaps in education, where Michael Barber was head of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit. For his second term (2001–5) Blair intensified his drive for real change in the public services and appointed Barber to head his Delivery Unit, to drive progress on specific targets such as reducing waiting times in health, cutting crime and improving school test and exam results.


Despite the great tension, pressures and crises, a new working philosophy was created to unite the PM, the Chancellor, the Cabinet and top civil servants behind the mission and to focus the entire government machine on delivering results.


Instruction to Deliver, Michael Barber's enthralling inside account of the time, shows just how much was achieved in this relatively short period. It provides revealing pictures of major players in New Labour, especially Tony Blair, and offers a unique insight into the messy reality of getting things done in government. It also gives a fascinating portrait of Michael Barber's upbringing and background, demonstrating the extraordinary drive and commitment required to bring about such a sea change in government culture.


Sir Michael Barber

Sir Michael Barber has a real record of delivery in the Blair government, first at the Department for Education and Employment (1997–2001), and then as head of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (2001–5), where he was tasked with ensuring the government's public service reforms delivered significant results.


Prior to joining government he was a teacher, union official and professor of education at the University of London. He is the author of several previous books including The Learning Game (1996), which set out his vision of a restructured school system and was a major influence on Blair's education reforms.


Until 2011 Sir Michael worked for a major global consulting firm advising governments around the world on how they can improve their performance. He is now Chief Education Adviser for Pearson.



'Michael Barber provides a unique, and often witty, insight into the inner workings of the Blair government and how it sought to translate its targets for the reform of public services into real improvements. His conclusions about how to streamline the centre of government should be studied by any future Prime Minister'

The Times


'No book has revealed the mindset of the Blair administration so well. It will remain a fundamental source long after the spate of journalistic effusions on the squabbles between Blair and Brown have been forgotten. It is one of the best books written on British government for many years'

Professor Vernon Bogdanor The Financial Times


'An astonishingly good read ... full of telling vignettes'

Independent on Sunday

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