1st Edition

‘Just Like Us’?: The Politics of Ministerial Promotion in UK Government

By Bill Jones Copyright 2024
    314 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    314 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Informed by interviews with key political figures and commentators, this entertaining and enlightening book exposes the influences, processes and motivations behind ministerial promotion in British government.

    It identifies and analyses the political sinews that have influenced the selection and upward progression of our rulers since the middle of the last century. Given that politics is fuelled by ambition, it provides commentary on how this often-criticised emotional drive can work positively in practice, motivating politicians to strive constantly for advancement in their quest for power and achievement. Drawing upon many biographies, it explains how politics is essentially about the strengths and frailties of the people who occupy positions of power. It illustrates that climbing up that greasy pole is dependent upon a number of key character traits of politicians: their strength of desire; their abilities/skills as communicators, managers and administrators; the ways in which fate throws up opportunities; and the raw courage of politicians in confronting these challenges. Ultimately, the book illuminates the abiding obsessions of that tiny but potent minority in democratic societies who dare to dream they can rule over us.

    This book will be of key interest to scholars, students and anyone interested in British political history, biography and the politics of executive government.


    1. Becoming a Professional Politician

    2. Negotiating Promotion

    3. The Recruitment Pool and the Role of the Whips’ Office

    4. Reshuffling the Pack

    5. The Role of the Media

    6. Special Advisers: The New ‘Apprentice Ministers’?

    7. Opposition Parties and Promotion

    8. How to be an Effective Minister

    9. Dreaming of Downing St: Churchill, Lord Home and Liz Truss

    10. Promotion of Gender, LGBTQ+ and Ethnicity Ministers in British Government

    11. ‘Promotion Velocity’ and the ‘Boris Problem’

    12. Concluding Comments


    Bill Jones is Honorary Professor of Political Studies at Liverpool Hope University, UK.

    “This highly original, readable and illuminating book explains with crystal clarity what exactly has gone wrong with our ministerial leaders.”

    Sir Anthony Seldon, University of Buckingham, UK

    “Bill Jones draws upon a wealth of knowledge and evidence to produce a truly fascinating book. He addresses some key questions which are rarely satisfactorily answered. Why do some people want to become politicians? What do they hope to achieve? How do they negotiate (or fail to) a game of political promotions akin to snakes and ladders? Is the old adage that all political careers end in failure really true? Avoiding lazy cynicism or unsupported assertions, Jones draws upon numerous astute political observations and examples spanning several decades to explain what makes politicians tick and whether they really do make a difference. This is a must-read book for anyone interested in politics.”

    Jon Tonge, Professor of Politics, University of Liverpool, UK