EDITORIAL: Special advisers undermine GICS

The soap opera in DTLR communications seems to be drawing to a close with Stephen Byers living to fight another day. But the saga highlights a key issue within government PR, that the morale and standing of the Government Information and Communication Service are being constantly undermined by the special adviser community.

There are 1,500 staff in the GICS, and most of them resent being tarred with the same brush as Jo Moore. A major issue of confidence has surfaced that negative briefing by ministerial aides about stuffy or old-fashioned GICS employees only exacerbates.

Calls for a new Civil Service Act, to enshrine in law the line between civil service PROs and special advisers, are a distraction. There is already a code of conduct which, by and large, civil service PROs stick by. The code applies as well to special advisers - who count as temporary civil servants - but is routinely flouted.

Because of this imbalance in standards of behaviour, GICS staff are forced to fight the battle for their own reputation with one hand tied behind their backs.

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