Martin Vander Weyer

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Shadow State: Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain


Oneworld 298pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Outsourcing is everywhere these days. The contracting out of public services to private-sector companies is a familiar mechanism that’s broadly understood to be in the interests of cost-saving, administrative efficiency and innovation. Yet it is also one that often leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Even those who argue – as I have certainly done elsewhere – that no form of service provision is wholly unsuitable for private enterprise might find that the word ‘outsourcing’ provokes negative associations from daily life. I have to admit it immediately makes even me think, in caricature, of minimum-waged workers provided by cunning suppliers – perhaps former public servants – exploiting ill-written contracts. I also confess that I find it mildly offensive when entering a public building to be confronted by a disagreeable security guard in an ill-fitting uniform who lacks any air of authority because he does not really belong to the institution concerned.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,