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The resurgence of the experts? What impact on consultations?

Right in the middle of the current health emergency, many commentators have observed that at a time of national crisis, people tend to cling to the words of people they believe to be ‘experts’. It is worth recalling that a few years ago, a leading politician claimed that we had all had rather too much of ‘experts’ and that the British people were right to disregard much of what they said.

Michael Gove came in for much ridicule for that comment, and he was largely unsuccessful in explaining it away. Indeed, his words garnered support in some circles, particularly in economics, business and planning where conventional wisdom has, on occasions proved, over time to be wrong. The usual examples include the policy switch to favour diesel cars, the privatisation of railways or the consensus that thought that universal credit was a great idea for welfare payments. Also let us remember that recent years have seen an erosion of trust in many of the great institutions of the state, from the church to the media and even Parliament. Scepticism reigns!


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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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