UK Government Communication: The Cameron years and their ongoing legacy

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper chronicles in detail, analyses and draws conclusions about the development of the UK Government Communication Service (GCS) from the election of the Coalition Government led by David Cameron in May 2010, to his resignation following the referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23rd June 2016. Looking at the radical changes introduced within a historical context, the paper also provides a conceptual model of Government communication from the point where it became a recognisably government-wide service in 1956 to the period under examination. The methodological approach to this paper is qualitative using case study as the main method. A variety of data collection methods were used: ethnographic, including non-participant and participant observation, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with six senior managers in the Government Communication Service (GCS), five senior operational managers and two external experts. This primary research is supplemented by secondary sources including the academic literature and Government papers most of which are in the public domain, but some of which the author had privileged access to. Context is provided through an overview of the challenges facing the UK Government in the recent past and currently, a brief literature review and background on the philosophy and origins of Government Communication in the UK along with changes in the civil service more broadly. Then the structural and operational changes introduced During the Cameron years are presented. These changes, their impact and implications are discussed in context and conclusions drawn. A novel historiological, conceptual model of four chronological stages of UK Government communication presented and this, along with the detailed analysis of the Cameron years, is its original contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number2
Early online date7 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


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