The importance of the Prime Minister in British foreign policy decision-making has long been accepted by historians. However, whilst much attention has been given to high level contacts between leaders and to the roles played by the Premiers themselves, much less is known about the people advising and influencing them. In providing day to day assistance to the Prime Minister, the Private Secretary could wield significant influence in policy outcomes. This book will examine the activities of those who advised Prime Ministers from Winston Churchill (1951–55) to Margaret Thatcher during her first administration (1979–83).

Each individual chapter will consider both British foreign policy and assess the influence of the specific advisers. For each office holder, particular attention will be paid to a number of key themes. First, relations with the Prime Minister will be considered. A strong personal relationship of trust and respect could lead to an official wielding much greater influence. This could be especially relevant when an adviser served under two different leaders, often from different political parties. Second, the attitudes towards the adviser from the Foreign Office will be considered. The FO traditionally enjoyed great autonomy in the making of British foreign policy and was sensitive to encroachments by Downing Street. Finally, each chapter will explore the role of the adviser in the key foreign policy events and discussions of the day.

The analysis of the individual advisers will be book-ended by an introduction and conclusion. The introduction will provide an overview of the day-to-day role of an adviser working in close proximity to the Prime Minister. It is our hope to be able to secure an experienced civil-servant to write this. The conclusion, meanwhile, will summarise the analysis of the contributors and highlight similarities and differences.


Dr. Andrew Holt is the co-editor on this book. Please check out his web site here


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