August 1st, 2012

Civil Service Reforms Could See Sir Humphrey Sacked for Failing

Francis Maude was much maligned by right-wing Tories during the opposition years as a wet moderniser, suspiciously tie-less and the éminence grise behind the Cameroon Policy Exchange think-tank.

In office he now wears a tie and has moved from policy wonkery to policy execution; bearing down on spending, battling the civil service bureaucracy, shining sunlight on government data to drive the transparency agenda. Maude is playing  hardball with the unions on unaffordable public sector pensions and full-time taxpayer-funded pilgrims. It is enough to gladden the heart of Margaret Thatcher herself – whom he once served as a Minister – it has also led to a grudging re-evaluation of him by many on the Conservative Party’s right-wing.

Now he is taking on the enemy within, the Civil Service permanent government, or in the case of Michael Gove’s Department for Education, the permanent opposition. The ability of the mandarinate to frustrate radical policies is legendary and their talent for generating inertia defies the laws of physics. In the ideological heart of many Thatcherites and Orange Bookers is a belief that the bureaucracy could be reduced, the government re-engineered and  improved. Quietly the Coalition will by 2015 have reduced the size of the Civil Service by 23% from the bloated days of Gordon Brown. The first step on the path to a post-bureaucratic government is making bureaucrats accountable and sackable when they fail to deliver.

Big Business has used the internet to strip out costs and whole layers of management, Big Government has barely started to do the same. Sir Humphrey and the rest of the mandarins have decades of experience in fighting Civil Service reform, they will fight these reforms every step of the way with cunning and subtlety rather than head on. They even have their own privately funded think-tank, the Institute for Government, possibly the most dangerous political force in Britain since the heyday of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The long-term gain from reforming and shrinking the Civil Service is immense, it was the area where the Blairite’s self-acknowledged failure was total. The prize is worth having at any cost.


  1. 1
    Kebab Time says:

    Turkeys will never vote for Christmas.

  2. 2
    Call me Dave says:

    You cannot possibly read the article before posting you huhne

  3. 3
    DZ says:

    I think I have just seen Prescott circling Hull in a holding pattern

  4. 4
    Nullbymouth says:

    Probably just a blimp over a car dealer

  5. 5
    Pickled Wizard says:

    Hes still looking for his new bride

  6. 6
    Fuct says:

    “Big Business has used the internet to strip out costs and whole layers of management”

    Big Business will use any excuse to rip off people and [sack] large groups of workers.

    There, fixed that for you.

  7. 7
    Nonjob says:

    I like it.

    Next stop, local government. Some serious re-engineering desperately needs to take place here. Then drastically reduce council extortion bills, keeping a larger amount of peoples wages in their own pockets to spend in the real world.

  8. 8
    Circling? Distended? says:

    Too many baked beans for breakfast! – try puncturing the fucker with an arrow

  9. 9
    The Curse of Cameron says:

    Shall I wish Francis Good Luck?

  10. 10
    bergen says:

    Sad to say, I think it would take at least three terms to turn Whitehall around .

  11. 11
    Owain says:

    I’d like to see them using free and open source software to cut costs too, as well as the internet. How much do we waste on software that has free alternatives? MS Windows and Office for instance.

  12. 12
    Dobbie says:

    Am I really awake…. Hospitals getting cleaned, Mandarins getting the boot? Is this real? Gold medal?

  13. 13
    Your neighbourhood Coven of Jobsworths, Equaltitty, Compliance, PC Ofsa's and that - wailing, says:

    This is terrible!! We’re short staffed as it is!

    How will we keep providing all the Mandatory Attendance Lectures and Study Days?

    How will we ensure all the new regulations are in place?

    How will we enforce Protocol Regimes?

    How will we check all procedure packs?

    How will we prepare all our free broad sheets for putting through every door 4 times a year in 30,000 different langwidges?

    Tell us that!!!

    Oh Gordo – when will you return? When will your beaming face light up our lives?

  14. 14
    Ed Balls says:

    This is outrageous.

    These cuts are too far and too fast.

    Bring back the Quangos !

  15. 15

    What about a culling of quangos? 10% of them should be simply shut down.

    Every month.

    Good guide to priorities:

    The ones with the biggest budgets first.

    That’s all. carry on.

  16. 16 says:

    Is that why the private sector (and mainly big business) has taken on 500,000 workers since 2010? And they would take on a lot more from the bloated unproductive public sector but for big government that wants to squeeze the life out of businesses and so force many more ordinary workers into unemployment.

    If business is so easy why don’t the dickheads who keep complaining about it start up their own? Or are they just what many think – ignorant, lazy, greedy, huhnes.

  17. 17
    Capitalist Pig says:

    Businesses are there to make money, not employ ‘workers’.

  18. 18
    Y25 pounder + 10 Ton Grand Slam as backup says:

    Never! Just let me loose and they’ll turn themselves!

  19. 19

    Sorry old chap.
    Still on the beach government conference on wave power generation in Hawaii.

  20. 20
    Ludvig says:

    “Socialism would gather all power to the supreme party and party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of civil servants no longer servants, no longer civil.”

    Sir Winston Churchill. (1946 HC speech!)

  21. 21
    Old Style Matron says:



    I left my Hospital clean and well run.

    What happened ?

  22. 22

    Ignore that beach bit.
    Its very hard work here. Hours of guest wafflers and the leafles are unusually heavy

  23. 23

    Sorry old boy! Better not read any further down if I were you.

    G&T, is it? Large one?

  24. 24
    Anonymous says:

    Sack the useless ones, yes. But not, not, not political appointees at the top. You will get people who have no idea of anything, but who happen to be pals of ministers.

    If we had had political appointees a dozen years ago, Gordon Brown would have made Ed Balls permanent secretary at the Treasury.

  25. 25
    Danny Boy says:

    Not according to me

  26. 26
    Where's Gordon? says:

  27. 27
    Eric Pickles says:

    If I cared I would do as you say

  28. 28
    Dave says:

    Institute for Government – what an effing shower. Most of them know nothing about government or governance. It looks more like a twilight home for hopeless ex-mandarins and what the old Labour Exchange used to call “difficult prospects to place”.

  29. 29

    Indeed. Quite agree.

    But…is this the right time minister? What about at a more appropriate juncture? In the fullness of time?

  30. 30
    Anonymous says:

    Is this a CCHQ press release? Francis Maude? Being effective? Give over, I’m still waiting for that Bonfire of the Quangoes we were promised.

    Another day, another promise – typical useless fucking Tories!

  31. 31
    Twatter says:

    I thought Dave said Twitter was for Twats?

  32. 32
    Gordoom McBraun says:

    “leh’ me ‘een, yer ijeets. Dinnae ye ken, ah’m the Praem Mineister so I arm.
    Nar leet me in or i’ll bash yer brains in wi’ ma phone.”

  33. 33
    Tay King-dePisse says:

    Something about “Burntisland” and “oil platform” doesn’t sound right when juxtaposed:

  34. 34
    Andy Coulson's monkey says:

    Reduction in size of civil service is spin. They are just privatizing bits and claiming a reduction.

  35. 35
    SP4BS says:

    probably claiming a bonus too.

  36. 36
    Peter Hitchens the voice of reason and dementia says:

    So it wouldnt have been signed if that clucking funt hadnt turned up as a witness?

  37. 37

    Don’t worry, Bill. When the debt is entirely eliminated, we can look at resurrecting yours. Should not take too long – if we stick to our guns. Why not extend your stay in Hawaii by a couple of decades? There are compensations as I am sure you are aware…

  38. 38
    Raving Loon says:

    For that I read: PM stands still and just watches business people doing their job. Government will collect tax revenue for doing absolutely nothing.

  39. 39
    Only 11 days 09 hours 04 minutes until the Olympics are over! Yay! says:

    I used to think that, back in the 90s, but to be fair Office 2010 is lightyears ahead of OpenOffice3, and as good a Ubuntu Linux may be, if it doesn’t run the applications you need to run (see Office 2010, above), your PC ceases to be a productivity tool and simply becomes the lump of circuits that says “no”.

  40. 40
    Raving Loon says:

    How about cuttting entire departments? International development, Sport and Media? Leave the EU? Bring the troops home from overseas? If the government really wanted to, the could cut spending, they just don’t want to.

  41. 41
    Cambazola says:

    Prescott is setting up an online HelpDesk targeted at individuals who have difficulties choosing breakfast items in buffet situations

    Prescott has identified that during the 5 item selection process it is often the fifth item choice that causes severe mental stress

    Prescott normally advises the “Purdey” approach where the chooser double barrels the breakfast increasing capacity to 10 items

    The Purdey

    2 fried eggs
    3 sausage
    2 bacon
    1 beans
    1 fried bread
    1 black pudding

  42. 42
    Zoro says:

    “How will we prepare all our free broad sheets for putting through every door 4 times a year in 30,000 different langwidges?”

    We get our local council socialist propaganda broadsheet weekly, along with all the deluge of other local kebab hose and subcontinent restaurant printed crap, delivered by those crucial foreign workers.

  43. 43
    Only 11 days 08 hours 59 minutes until the Olympics are over! Yay! says:

    I was thinking that. Is it “burnt island” or “burntis land”?

  44. 44
    Blusea socialist says:

    People only get ripped off if they allow others to do it to them

  45. 45
    Rat's arse says:

    Whatever anonymong, whatever!

  46. 46
    lolathebeautiful says:

    And what about all the effing unaccounatbel quangos? They’re the real problem.

  47. 47
    Mr Brown NUT says:

    Burntisland is just down the road from Gordon, He can see it from his front room window. Dave was risking life and Limb by going there.

    But as Gordon failed to turn up to the Olympics with Sarah perhaps he’s left the country and is teaching in an African school.

  48. 48
    Only 11 days 08 hours 52 minutes until the Olympics are over! Yay! says:

    He was there to wish them well.

    And it next week’s news, “350 jobs were lost today when EU Environmental and Health and Safety regulations forced the closure an oil platform in Fife. In a statement to the press, David Cameron said, “Bum.” “

  49. 49
    Polly Pot says:

    Holiday shrill list.
    Over exaggeration bedwetting special edition
    {Filed from the sun lounger.}

    Mon. Tories have 100% privatised the NHS, police,army, schools and border controls
    Tue. Labour would end poverty by 2013 says .. Sally Bercow
    Wed. Fat cat bankers only paid 1p income tax in 2000-2012
    Thur. Benefits of £39,000 are not enough to feed family of 3
    Fri. 100% starvation in Tory run council areas by 2015

    Fill in Saturday’s yourselves from any of the words in Monday-Fridays

  50. 50
    Alan Johnson says:

    My 5 items are :

    2 sausages
    1 bacon
    34 toast
    6 eggs
    75% jam
    3,000,000 pints of milk.

  51. 51
    Handycock Capo di Capo Soviet Republic of Portsmouth says:

    I hope these reforms and accountability don’t apply to Local Government or there will be no one left in Portsmouth. Boaz.

  52. 52
    Another Engineer says:

    It is light years ahead, if you use all the features.

    For most goverment office users, it wouldn’t make any difference. The document content would still be rubbish.

    Anyone seen using Excel for anything other than an actual spreadsheet should be taken out a shot.

  53. 53
    Piss-pot says:

    You don’t live in St*ke do you Zoro?
    Every other shop in the entire City is either Kebabs or P*ki nosh.

    They do have the odd Poundland & Charity shop though.

    The place stinks!

  54. 54
    Gordoom McBraun says:

    Ah’ am.

    listen tae me yer wee pygmies.

    1 x 1 is 4
    4 x 4 is tax credits error of 3 billion.
    3bn x 3bn is vote rigging

  55. 55
    Popeye says:

    I have always considered Maude a complete wet, but, brother, can he really do it, sort out those Sir Humphries?
    My heart felt thanks are on there way, maybe!
    Cameron will probably think you are too dangerous and reshuffle you in the autumn.

  56. 56
    Blusea socialist says:

    The governments primary mandate is to protect the country and maintain law and order. To perform, all that’s needed is Treasury, MOD & Home office. The rest are all b*llox.

  57. 57
    Tiger Tiger says:

    Do it from Hell, where you all belong!

  58. 58
    alexsandr says:

    most users don’t use 910% of the features in office, so open office would suffice.
    I use open office and it does all i need it to do.

    real data should be in a proper database on a secure server, not in mickey mouse spreadsheets anyway.

  59. 59
    Tiger Tiger says:

    The firing squads would have to work hard, but a good beginning could be made by the next election, if they have a good supply of ammunition.

  60. 60
    alexsandr says:

    maybe someone should do a headcount and think if we need a cabinet secretary.

  61. 61
    Another Engineer says:

    Exactly. At one place I worked we had a “amnesty” on Excel and Access applications and we did our best to get rid of them all.

    The Horror, The Horror.

    It might be a good idea giving government departments applications that only do what they need, especially if they are free.

  62. 62
    Tiger Tiger says:

    Of course they don’t want to cut expenditure. Government expenditure, and more borrowing to pay for even more of it, is how they buy support. None of them will dare upset the benefits-junkies, the bureaucrats or the big corporations until the whole financial, political and social system collapses. Then, those at the top will hope to have stolen enough money, and bought enough friends to be able to survive the chaos.

  63. 63
    JH says:

    You’re damn right they are.

    Your employer does not exist for your sake.

  64. 64
    PFI says:

    We have a special offer on Cabinet secretaries all this month.

  65. 65
    JH says:

    95% of Excel use is people making lists of stuff. That’s it.

    If you’re really lucky someone might include a total column and use the filters every now and then.

  66. 66
    I'll have some of that says:

    Frankie made a bonfire of them. Haven’t you heard?
    The guy is useless, the mandarins will piss all over him

  67. 67
    Must get a pseudonym one day says:

    Best plan to reduce the Civil Service would be to tell each department they’re moving to Bradford.

    Faced with that prospect, around 75% of the precious pen-pushers will jump ship without redundancy, the remaining 25% have the right background to blend in with the natives.

    And there’s plenty of room for them in Bradford – it’s still got a bloody great big hole in the middle where the shops used to be.


  68. 68
    Anonymous says:

    What happened? You left Old Matron, & the wards & nursing standards have declined as a result of your departure. That’s what happened.

  69. 69
    Anonymous says:

    “in the case of Michael Gove’s Department for Education, the permanent opposition”

    Obviously because the civil servants are not uneducated, ignorant, thick cυnts systematically lying about facts for the benefit of the rapacious interests of rich foreign plutocrats.

  70. 70
    Quintin McGarel Hogg says:

    Of course, if anyone except the Conservatives did anything like this it would be dictatorship.

  71. 71
    mrjohn says:

    “Big Business has used the internet to strip out costs and whole layers of management, Big Government has barely started to do the same. ”

    debatable, and you might want to use the word intranet instead

  72. 72
    The Golem says:

    Exactly, I’ll believe it when I see it. I don’t think this government has the courage or inclination to take on the entrenched interests of the nation’s permanent government.

  73. 73
    Mike Hunt says:

    How right he was.

  74. 74
    Mike Hunt says:

    Just as they should.

  75. 75
    Jimmy says:

    With a bit of luck he’ll have paved the way for political perm secs just in time for the next election.

  76. 76
    Ken Clarke says:

    What are these wonderful new policies which the wicked Civil Serpents are preventing? Has anyone seen one? If so, could they call Dave (while calling him Dave, natch)?

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