FRANKIE SAYS SACKED
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.

Why The Cuts Are Needed

Guidance On Guidance Cabinet Office

Found deep in a cupboard in Whitehall…

Voters Should Be the Outside Regulator

No PublicNot a single voter had the opportunity to mandate Gordon Brown to be Prime Minister – his thugs even scared off internal party rivals – now the Prime Minister without a mandate wants a quango without a mandate, with placemen appointed by politicians.  Where do the voters and taxpayers come in to this equation?  We have been here before, the Commissioner for Standards was a political appointment to watch over the integrity and honesty of politicians.  When Elizabeth Filkin naively took her job seriously she was hounded out of office.  Not exactly a good precedent for “independent” regulation.

We need reforms that make politicians more directly and immediately accountable to voters.  Douglas Carswell is on the money, we want the power of voter recall for underperforming politicians, we need to be involved in the open selection of candidates before every election.   We need to empower voters, not the party machines.  Too many constituencies are the permanent property of lazy, sleazy politicians.  The worst expenses abusers were in the safest seats.

Political Class Starting to Fear the Public’s Anger

Not often that Polly Toynbee, Tim Montgomerie and Guido agree: popular anger with the political class is rising.  Something that Polly wants Labour to adjust to by moving policy to the left as well as limiting public-sector fat-cat pay. Tim Montgomerie agrees on the latter but wants the Tories to wake up to popular anger by putting on hair-shirts and getting their own snoughts out of the trough.  Guido welcomes both pundits to the anti-politics banner.

Democracy is broken, the political media elite distant from the people with the two main parties offering no choice and no change.  Osborne is promising no change and blaming the economic crisis.  Taxation will remain penal, spending will remain prolific, there will be some reforms of a failed state bureaucracy but no rollback and no radicalism.  Hannan is at least making the case for a radical shift of power from the centralised state bureaucracy to people at local level.

The Cameroons can’t seal the deal with the people with pragmatism,  “Triangulation Now!” is not the banner that will get people marching.  Voters are angry with Brown and disenchanted with politicians offering more of the same.  Bedazzled during the Blair years, Cameron, Osborne and Hilton have yet to show that they realise the times have fundamentally changed.  Taking strategic advice from the wrong Danny* has left the Tories outflanked on their USP – the LibDems are now the only party promising to reduce the tax burden on the low paid.  Hannan told Newsnight last night that people are fed up of being, “ripped off, lied to and ignored” by politicians.  Disenchantment with politicians has never been higher, most think they are overpaid and dishonest.  Hannan gets it.  This crisis is an opportunity to radically change the plan.

*Finkelstein.  Nice guy, but wrong.  Danny has been consistently one political zeitgeist behind the times all his life.

Johnson : We Have Only Wasted 1/4 of the Money

The Tories have announced they plan a spending cap on IT projects in view of the NHS super-computer disaster, where the budget has gone from £2 billion to £13 billion. Which is a complete joke considering that is more than Google will spend on research and development. The charge of waste must be hitting home, if this report from a co-conspirator is anything to go by:
I shared a train carriage today with Alan Johnson. He was having a loud telephone conversation overheard by the whole carriage telling everyone how worried he was the Tories would attack them over the lack of progress and tax payers money spent on the new computer system for the NHS. “We have only actually spent £3 billion, rather than the £12 billion we planned, so taxpayers are actually getting value for money….” were his very words.

On that basis the last charge of the light brigade was not a complete military failure, since some of the calvarymen survived.

"Hello is That the FSA?"

If Lloyds Bank’s Victor Blank was talking to Gordon Brown about take-over plans for HBOS at a cocktail party wasn’t he breaking the takeover code’s strict rules on secrecy? Shouldn’t somebody report them?
Yesterday the headlines said “Gordon Brown orders Lloyds takeover of HBOS”. Does Brown think he can order Lloyds shareholders to vote for the deal? This is a Class 1 transaction, shareholders will decide, not Gordon.

The FT agrees with Guido, is it now official government policy to have the regulators lie to the markets via the media? If the FSA itself is now lying and breaking the laws it is supposed to enforce, is there any point reporting law breakers?

Perils of Tripartite Regulation

A co-conspirator points out just how brilliantly the tripartite authorities (HM Treasury, Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority) are doing joint up regulation.
Commenting on the soundness of HBOS the FSA yesterday morning said it was:

“a well-capitalised bank that continues to fund its business in a satisfactory way”

Alistair Darling this morning:

Alistair Darling added that without the deal the outlook was “very bleak indeed…We were onto their (HBOS’s) problem for several weeks. It didn’t just suddenly happen…”

So who was lying?

The architecture of City regulation is a mess. The FSA is despised and nobody in the City respects it. The Bank of England has been undermined deliberately by Gordon because it was a threat to his authority. The FSA should change remit and look after exclusively retail customer’s interests and the Bank should keep an eye on the City and re-take control of the Debt Management Office. The Treasury and the Bank should swap staff regularly and be on friendly terms, with the Treasury executing political influence through the Bank. The Bank is closer to the markets than the Treasury and so it should be to inspire confidence in the City…

Open Government in Practice

The Register tried to interview a senior Civil Servant about another IT related fiasco, a Home Office press officer called soon after to say that “I’m not impressed by that… you [The Register] do not do that, you come through us. If you do you will not get any response [at all to your queries]”.

They asked if it was Home office policy to threaten journalists with excommunication if they try talking to senior civil servants. “No,” she said. “It’s just the way it is.” They really have forgotten who pays their wages…



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Quote of the Day

Liam Fox shreds Cameron’s Calais scaremongering:

“Sad and disappointed to see our Prime Minister stoop to this level of scaremongering, especially as he knows the Calais agreement is nothing to do with the EU and agreed between the two govts”

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