This is being shared on WhatsApp by former (and I think current DfID) staff.
But is it a tribute to or mickey take of the new combined FCDO? pic.twitter.com/C5e4iYqcBj
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) September 2, 2020
HuffPo’s Paul Waugh has shared an absolute gem this morning doing the rounds on civil service WhatsApp groups. Apparently produced by a creative former DFID civil servant to celebrate this morning’s birth of the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office. F.C.D.O. becomes the new Y.M.C.A…
Offline celebrations include a new plaque being officially put up on the FCDO building, replacing the original sign’s classic typeface with civil-service-standard Arial.
Yesterday the usual suspects could be found railing against the news of a merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office. Ian Blackford in particular treated us to one of his typical never-ending faux-pompous outrage performances in the Commons, saying
“In a time when we should be standing with the world’s poorest, acting as a beacon of hope, the Prime Minister is playing politics… This is shameful and is not in our name Mr Speaker”
If Blackford had done his reading, however, he would know the Whitehall shakeup is being done explicitly in the name of the SNP. The party’s 2013 “Guide to an Independent Scotland” details the party’s proposed Government structure post-independence, in which:
“The Cabinet Secretary for International Relations will have responsibility for relations with the rest of the UK and Ireland, the EU, and the wider international community, and will be supported by a Minister for International Development.”
“Scotland’s international development programme will be delivered as part of an integrated approach to international relations.”
Precisely the structure and goals Boris wants to see from the new merged FCO-DfID department…
Blair also kicked back against the move, saying via his institute he is “utterly dismayed by the decision to abolish DFID. We created DFID in 1997 to play a strong, important role in projecting British soft power. It has done so to general global acclaim.” Again, his own words come back to haunt him. In his 2010 autobiography, Blair wrote that after creating DfID:
“It was not popular with the Foreign Office, who thereby lost control of the largest slice of their budget, and some of their objections gained my sympathy over time… it resembled an NGO inside government and this caused significant problems”
The changes will not end the 0.7% GDP target, and are designed to enhance UK aid abroad. Opposition for opposition’s sake is obvious and soon creates a boy-who-cried-wolf situation…
It looks like the decade-long rivalry between David Cameron and Boris Johnson has ignited once again over the Government’s plan to scrap DfID. Something Cameron sees as one of his proudest legacies…
Publicly disagreeing with a PM’s policy for the first time since leaving office, Cameron tweeted that the “decision to merge the departments is a mistake… the end of @DFID_UK will mean less expertise, less voice for development at the top table and ultimately less respect for the UK overseas.”
Thanks to Emma Hardy sitting on her phone in the Chamber, Cameron’s opposition was immediately put to Boris, who – predictably – rejected his predecessor’s criticisms.
Dave cherished DfID and the generosity of the 0.7% of GDP for foreign aid guarantee. It has long been unpopular with voters…
Another raft of allegations against Priti Patel came out last night from the Sun and Newsnight, including from her time at the Department for International Development; with the Times claiming successive permanent secretaries at the department were aware of allegations. So why did they sit on the allegations for three years?…
These anonymous briefings from disgruntled civil servants came after Patel tried restoring harmony at the Home Office with an email, calling on the department to “come together as one team” and she “deeply cared” about the “well being” of her civil servants. It seems a small concerted group don’t want harmony…
It took a while for Patel’s allies to finally fight back – also anonymously of course. Speaking to Nicholas Watt, a Tory Party source said:
“What we are seeing is a concerted effort by certain sections of the civil service to undermine a home secretary trying to deliver what people want on crime and immigration. It is deeply disturbing that dark forces are trying to influence the findings of a Cabinet Office inquiry.”
The string also unravelled for one of the anti-Patel allegations of bullying, as it emerged one of those claiming to have been bullied out of the DWP when Priti was Employment Minister was already in the process of quitting when she took over, and the accusations of bullying were made against the department – not the minister.
Sebastian Payne reports the ally – presumably from the DWP – making the point:
“It’s actually very serious that a civil servant had mental health issues and attempted to take her own life because of the way she was treated at work by her Civil Service colleagues. And it’s childish and stupid for anonymous friends of Philip Rutnam to push around false stories about Civil Service mistakes which she had nothing to do with.”
Will anybody besides Liam Fox be brave enough to go on the record at some point?
The Department for International Development has delivered a scathing assessment of Baroness Scotland, labelling her Commonwealth Secretariat one of the “poorest performers” when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. A new DfID report out today has found “the Commonwealth Secretariat continues to underperform” and that “improvement is essential if DFID is to continue to fund the organisation”. The report warns “the Secretariat requires urgent organisational reform” in terms of “transparency” and “human resource management”, slamming Scotland’s department for its poor “financial management and budget discipline”. The Commonwealth Secretariat scored a mark of 2 out of 5 on transparency, accountability and value. This could not be a more damning indictment of Baroness Scotland’s exorbitant spending and lack of accountability…