Speaking Truth to Power - Introduction

Civil servants are proud of their duty to ‘speak truth to power’ - that is to provide honest, impartial and sensible advice to Ministers. But it is in practice very difficult to do this. We are supposed to be Ministers' critical friends. But we bound to be nervous in front of very powerful people. Some Ministers are none too keen on taking advice from civil servants. And no-one - and certainly no Minister - likes to be told that their plans might be misguided or their beliefs misconceived.

So how does the duty to 'speak truth' arise? What exactly does it mean? How can you be most persuasive? And what should you do when a Minister doesn’t want to listen? These web pages analyse these questions in some detail.

The first set of pages focus on why it can be difficult it can be to speak truth to Ministers, and why it might have become more difficult in recent years:

There are then some hints and tips about:

Last, but not least, we look at

Related Pages

If you want to read further then you might find these pages interesting:


Martin Stanley