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.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : 'Gracefully meditative...a Chatterton-esque literary discovery of old, albeit with references to Bob Geldof and Alk… ,
    • Still time to win tickets to Lady Windermere's Fan at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. To enter simply email marke… ,
    • In need of last minute christmas gifts for children? Philip Womack reviews the latest children's books from Jessica… ,
    • "An artist had to be a chemist – and he had to have a strong stomach. He would have known, writes Jelley, 'the usef… ,
    • Good spelling, us! ,
    • This Christmas, why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions… ,
    • Philip Henscher on Thom Gunn's 'Selected Poems' ,