Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood is very upset with Francis Maude for speaking the truth about the civil service. In a speech last night (which is well worth your time), Maude warned that Whitehall is “deeply flawed”, not up to scratch to make a success of Brexit, guilty of promoting sub-par employees, covering up failure and lying to ministers. Any Secretary of State who has ever tried to do anything approaching a radical reform will tell you the same. If a politician ever wants to do something which might improve the country, the civil service blob stands in their way.
Heywood has launched a personal attack on Maude in response: “It is a pity that Lord Maude has chosen to attack the organisation and its dedicated staff with a wholly inaccurate portrayal of what is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective and efficient civil services”. This isn’t a fair critique of the Maude speech – he went to great effort to stress he wasn’t attacking individuals. And the claim that it was an “inaccurate portrayal” is guff. It is very unusual for a civil servant to go on the record to the press attacking a politician like this. The civil service code clearly states mandarins must “ensure you have Ministerial authorisation for any contact with the media”. Which minister authorised Heywood’s attack on Maude? Or has he breached his own code?