Although I agree with others here that it is politicians who are the ultimate deciders and that the Civil Servants their instruments I find the advice given to ministers by Civil Servants to often be the problem. I once thought that the TV series ‘Yes Minister’ was a simple comedy until I sat in meetings and heard ministers being told things like,
“That’s a very brave decision Minister, are you sure ? and “I very much doubt the public will see it that way but it’s your choice”
This is by no means just a UK problem, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy share it. The Germans not so much in my experience.