Newsnight’s Unbalanced Report on Vetting Civil Service Advisers

Guido is glad to see his successful campaign to get the civil service to re-consider the merits of inviting witches and wack-jobs in to speak to civil service networks is getting attention. Last night, Newsnight revealed internal government emails showing academic Kate Devlin had been blocked from speaking on the grounds she was a “fairly outspoken, left-wing academic“. The email makes specific reference to our story on the number of radical activists who’d previously shown up in Whitehall to give hostile tirades against their own government under the nose of Simon Case and the PM. Devlin claims she was uninvited because she had been critical of the Online Harms Bill (as has Guido), and she retweeted a parody Liz Truss account. Even a quick browse through her profile shows that’s not quite the full picture…

Maybe, as Devlin protests, she had no plans to even hint at her politics in her speech, and this is overblown. If you watch the above video you can see she wasn’t telling the entire truth on Newsnight. It wasn’t just that she re-tweeted a Liz Truss parody, she calls the government bigoted and regularly tweets disapprovingly about the Tories. Of course, Guido would have been happy to discuss this on the show for the sake of balance – after all, our own story is right there in the internal email shown on-screen – yet for some reason, there was no invitation to Guido.

It is common sense to bring in advisers who seek to aid, not hinder the government in advancing policy goals. Why have people who want to thwart government policy been brought in to advise the Civil Service? Their job is to implement the elected government’s agenda, not slap each other on the back for hating Priti Patel. Of course, that doesn’t preclude those who’ve ever voted Labour, or have different views on the merits of policies from speaking, it just means some due diligence is reasonable to stop the likes of sorcerers and obsessives with a clear political agenda from trying to influence policy.

mdi-tag-outline Civil Service Newsnight Whitehall
mdi-account-multiple-outline Kate Devlin
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