The Motivation Of The Ex-Mandarin’s Ministerial Undermining

After finally toppling Boris Johnson, ex-Foreign Office mandarin Sir Simon McDonald has once again risen from dull anonymity to lead the charge against Dominic Raab. On Monday Sir Simon did a whole media round attacking Raab, accusing him without specifics of being intimidating and scaring junior staff members.

It was language, it was tone, he would be very curt with people. And he did this in front of a lot of other people

Doesn’t sound very bad at all. Besides his anti-Tory bias, why else might Sir Simon have chosen this topic to resurface for airtime? Might it have anything to do with his new book, released today?

Guido searched via Google Books for how many references Sir Simon makes to his botched handling of the Harry Dunn affair: Zero.

mdi-timer 16 November 2022 @ 10:56 16 Nov 2022 @ 10:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Anonymous Anti-Raab Briefers Should Put Up or Shut Up

Media headlines continue burbling about Dominic Raab this morning as yet more anonymous allegations are briefed to the press by disgruntled civil servants.

Process stories are running on whether Simon Case was told anything by senior officials; whether Simon McDonald warned Raab about his behaviour during his time as Foreign Secretary; and whether a senior FCDO official suggested junior staff should have their hands held by their seniors in meetings with him. All very interesting to a scalp-hungry Lobby, all very vague. 

Guido observes this is the key difference between Raab and Gavin Williamson. With Williamson there were mounting specific allegations; against Wendy Morton, and against an MP in financial trouble he threatened. The accusations were made by MPs with personal experience, speaking on the record.

With Raab we’ve had just one actual allegation – that he angrily threw a Pret tomato into a paper bag. It was laughable. Many in Westminster sympathetic to Raab suspect his only crime was telling members of the thin-skinned, work-shy blob to pull their fingers out and do their job.

One senior ex-official at the Ministry of Justice, who served under Raab, has offered this alternative briefing to Guido in his defence:

I worked with Dominic Raab at the MoJ as an official. He was an abrasive arse much of the time. But that was and is much better than a lot of people working there deserved.

“The key thing is that he was abrasive. But that was and is exactly what that clusterf**k of a department required.

I’m all in favour of complaints about bullying of whatever scale being properly investigated – as long as complaints about idle, useless civil servants are subjected to the same process.”

Another former government source points out that for all Simon McDonald’s media showboating about Raab, he is nakedly a party political actor with many axes to grind (he is a former perm sec at the Foreign Office). As Harry Cole points out, it’s also distasteful to see McDonald attempt to cast himself as an expert in leadership “when his handling of the Harry Dunn affair was a disaster from start to finish.”

When it comes to Labour’s political point-scoring, they’re going to be amazed to hear how Gordon Brown treated his No. 10 staff…

mdi-timer 15 November 2022 @ 11:15 15 Nov 2022 @ 11:15 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
LISTEN: Simon McDonald Slams No.10 for Lying About Pincher Claims

This morning’s ongoing media round has thrown even more fuel on the Chris Pincher fire. Following ex-Foreign Office Permanent Secretary Sir Simon McDonald’s bombshell letter this morning, Dominic Raab had the task once again of spinning the latest unsustainable No.10 line to the press. Through plenty of coughing and spluttering, Raab insisted on the Today Programme that 

“Aside from the Westminster rumour mill, any allegation that had resulted in formal disciplinary action… whilst there was inappropriate behaviour [from Pincher], it didn’t trip the wire into disciplinary action… the individual who made the complaint did not want formal disciplinary action taken.”

Just minutes later, McDonald appeared on Today himself to once again take a sledgehammer to No.10’s line that Boris wasn’t briefed on Pincher’s behaviour in person in 2019, and Raab’s claims that since no “further disciplinary action” was taken, the matter was resolved:

“I disagree with that, and I dispute the use of the word ‘resolved’… the complaint was upheld… Number 10 have had five full days to get the story correct, and that still has not happened… it’s sort of telling the truth and crossing your fingers at the same time and hoping people aren’t too forensic in their subsequent questioning.”

In a matter of hours, the line has gone from “it’s not true” to “the PM didn’t know of any formal complaints”. Chaos.

mdi-timer 5 July 2022 @ 09:02 5 Jul 2022 @ 09:02 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Foreign Office Chief Threatens Clive of India Statue

Foreign Office chief Sir Steven McDonald has privately told civil servants that the grand century old Clive of India statue – currently standing between the Foreign Office and the Treasury – “may have to go” in light of the Black Lives Matter pressure building over the last fortnight. Robert Clive secured 200 years of British-Indian rule, in addition to footing the blame for the Bengal Famine that killed ten million Indians…

Confusingly, however, civil service social justice warrior Sir Simon also confirmed ‘offensive’ statues and paintings housed inside the gilded FCO won’t receive the same destructive treatment, and will be staying put. There’s more than a whiff of virtue signalling in his controversial plans…

The confession came last Monday during a Zoom call with civil servants at BEIS, who themselves have been getting into the ‘progressive’ swing of things; with emails to employees being signed off with Black Lives Matter graphics.

BEIS is yet to catch up with the Department for Education, however, who recently gave employees a Black Lives Matter ‘educational playlist’ that included the track “f*ck tha police”…

mdi-timer 15 June 2020 @ 14:00 15 Jun 2020 @ 14:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU’s PPE Scheme Fails to Deliver

Late yesterday afternoon was mired in political farce when the FCO boss Simon McDonald suggested that Britain’s decision not to take part in the EU’s PPE procurement scheme was a “political” one, in direct contradiction to the Government’s given explanation of an email communications failure. Hancock immediately denied the claim by McDonald and hours later the top mandarin issued a correction stating he was wrong and it was, after all, not a political decision. The writers of Yes Minister would have rejected such a scenario…

Further confusion lies in Matt Hancock’s claim at yesterday’s press briefing that “We did receive an invitation in the Department of Health and it was put up to me to be asked and we joined so we are now members of that scheme”, however an EU Commission spokesman soon after said the UK is not currently involved in any of the EU’s efforts to buy PPE, though we are “most welcome to participate in future rounds”.

Regardless of the merits of UK non-participation at first in a scheme being run by a foreign political body we are no longer members of, it is on form for the media to portray theoretical participation in the scheme as a land of milk and honey, when weeks on from the start of the crisis, the EU scheme has not delivered a single piece of PPE equipment to a single member state.

Not only are countries like Italy and Spain reaching the end stages of their Coronavirus pandemic having not seen PPE help from the EU, according to the Irish Medical Timeson the 24th March an EU Commission spokesman said, “The equipment should be available two weeks after the Member States sign the contracts with the bidders, which they should do very rapidly,”. If the UK Government missed a deadline this badly, you can be sure the media would be canning them…

mdi-timer 22 April 2020 @ 09:00 22 Apr 2020 @ 09:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
FCO “Crisis No Deal Response”: Go On Holiday

Yesterday’s story about the penny dropping at the FCO that Brexit was really going to happen on October 31 triggered the FCO press office into claiming that they had, of course, been training people on trade policy since 2016.  Unfortunately for the junior press office spinner trying to sell the line that this was just an expansion, Guido’s FCO sources suggest otherwise…

It’s all getting a bit hairy over at the FCO, departments are now being told that more and more staff will have to be deployed – unexpectedly – for Brexit related duties. Many unhappy senior staff are having to decide what they will have to stop doing to compensate for redeployed staff and resources…

Simon McDonald, the FCO’s Permanent-Under-Secretary, has written to staff telling them; “Preparing for a no deal response will become the FCO’s main effort… our EU exit work has to intensify across the FCO.” He goes on to tell them that the FCO Crisis Centre will be coordinating the effort – which tells you all need to know about the FCO’s attitude towards Brexit. Peter Jones, the FCO’s Chief Operating Officer, is coordinating the change in priorities with directors. As if it should not have been the priority since June 2016…

McDonald concludes “Preparing for October is the professional challenge of our lives” before going on to finish his missive “I hope, like me, you manage to take some leave over the summer in preparation for a busy autumn.” No sense of urgency even though a no deal Brexit has belatedly “become the FCO’s main effort”…

mdi-timer 16 August 2019 @ 15:08 16 Aug 2019 @ 15:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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