Books of the Year: Upfront with Blair and power presentation

It might be a bit nerdy. So fretted Tony Blair about the suggestion that Michael Barber, head of his Delivery Unit, give the press a PowerPoint presentation on the Government's progress towards its domestic policy targets. It was - but it was a success. Barber's avalanche of stats in July 2002 was an antidote to Blair's perceived spin.

by Richard Reeves

In his book Instruction to Deliver: Tony Blair, the public services and the challenge of achieving targets, Barber says: 'It was agreed that I would present it in a low-key way.' It's hard to imagine him doing it any other way: Barber is a softly spoken, modest man.

His book is a defence of 'deliverology', the view that public services could be reformed only if they were set clear, public targets for which they would be accountable. Blair set up the Unit in 2001 to give Whitehall a kick up the backside. Barber says its role was to 'simplify, keep bringing people back to the fundamentals'.

The Unit's five killer questions would serve any manager well: 'What are you trying to do? How are you trying to do it? How do you know you are succeeding? If you're not succeeding, how will you change things? How can we help you?'

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