Darling’s Treasury Rebuttal Breaks Civil Service Code

Alastair Darling had a reputation as a safe pair of hands, but the more you see of him under pressure, the less safe he seems.

At the start of the Northern Rock crisis he at first claimed all was well, then dithered, waffled and eventually promised the government would guarantee everything. A promise he has now gone back on – as Northern Rock shares fell even more today.

Unsettled by the finesse of Osborne’s tax policy announcements he seems to have completely lost the plot yesterday, claiming the Tory figures don’t add up whilst simultaneously acknowledging they don’t know how many non-doms there are or what income they have. But the Labour party press release is even more extraordinary:

“Today George Osborne made a £3.5 billion tax commitment. Treasury analysis shows it is impossible for him to raise the money he needs to pay for this commitment from his proposals on residence and domicile. Initial costings by the Treasury show that George Osborne’s proposal would raise a maximum of £650m, leaving George Osborne at least £2.9 billion short.”

It is a sacking offence for civil servants to engage in party political work. Darling has just press released a confession to a fundamental breach of the Civil Service Code. In reality politicians often pressure civil servants to cross the partisan line, discretely behind closed doors where they would be unlikely to be caught, certainly not with the work press released during the opposition’s party conference. Gus O’Donnell, who heads the Civil Service, will not be impressed with this at all.

In more honourable times, a Minister would have been expected to resign if he was found to have pushed Civil Servants to break the rules. New Labour are increasingly unable to separate their private party interest from the interests of the state…

Hat-tip : Benedict Brogan




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