Whilst recent discussion has noted special adviserswho have risen to the pinnacle of British politics, this ismostly characterisedby selectionbias as itdoesnot examine the entire cohort of special advisers nor the subsetwho have been parliamentary candi- dates. This article examines the background and success (in terms of being elected and ministerial progression) of special advisers from 1979 to 2010. It concludes that whilst having similar backgrounds to the entire cohort of special advisers, those who stand for Parliament have radically different backgrounds from ‘typical’ candidates. Thosewho enter Parliament experience extremely rapid career progres- sion, even more than other MPs with ‘instrumental’ political experience. 1.
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