This chapter is not an example of comparative politics but of area studies, a field that is descriptive, cultural, historical, and contextual, seeking to analyse a country or region. The chosen area is the dominion countries of the British Commonwealth. The chosen method is the textual analysis of primary sources: speeches, writings, evidence to inquiries, and interviews by heads of the public services. This chapter analyses how the heads of the public services articulate the traditions of ‘constitutional bureaucracy’ found in Westminster systems of parliamentary government and selectively draw on past understandings to understand present-day changes. It describes traditions under challenge that reshape reforms as reforms reshape them. In each case, it is not a question of ‘in with the new, out with the old’, but of ‘in with the new alongside key components of the old’. The myths and legends of yore remain germane to the modern public service.
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