'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.