Friday, June 08, 2007

Brown Nose

Writing in the Telegraph today, Denis MacShane gave us an article that is beyond satire. The former Home Office minister was dissecting styles of government, so 'Mrs Thatcher bunkered herself away from the Treasury and Foreign Office and brought in acolytes to tell her that Europe was a plot against Britain, that the reunification of Germany should be opposed and that South African apartheid should be supported' and 'John Major lost control of events and his party early on'. Then he moves on to Tony Blair 'who did not know how to make the Civil Service work for him' and 'paid more attention to his Number 10 praetorians or to preferred junior ministers than to most holders of high Cabinet office'. Having trashed the last three Prime Ministers, at least in terms of how they worked with the civil service, we finally get to the point:

By contrast, Mr Brown, down the road in the Treasury, seemed to achieve equal political success in the economic and social field, but by working with civil servants. Mr Brown, the only intellectual in the continental sense of the word in the Cabinet, was as technically clever as they were. He could advise as much as get advice.

Now he is taking a mammoth risk. He is saying to Britain's state service professionals: "I am prepared to trust you. Will you put your talents at the service of the nation to keep economic prosperity and social investment moving steadily forward?"

His press chief will also be a professional civil servant, in contrast to David Cameron's £400,000-a-year appointment of a News of the World editor who had to resign in disgrace after his chief reporter was jailed.
As if David Cameron as Leader of the Opposition could actually employ a 'professional civil servant'. The Conservatives are in opposition, you clown. The civil service works for the government of the day, or to be more accurate for 'Edinburgh's most famous son' as Brown is buttock-clenchingly described. MacShane ignores Margaret Thatcher's commitment to cabinet government and the wide respect in which she was held by the civil service, belittles John Major, who was as collegiate as you can get, weasels about Tony Blair, and then characterises Gordon Brown as the one the civil service comes to for advice. His thesis that Brown is taking some sort of risk by asking the professionals to, you know, do their jobs is laughable. Brown is the the man who ignored officials when they told him his policies would destroy Britain's pensions and was described as having "Stalinist ruthlessness" and a "cynical view of mankind and his colleagues" by the former head of the civil service. Brown isn't taking a risk on the civil service, it is the rest of us who are taking a risk on Brown.

The only thing MacShane's article needed was 'job application' as a title.

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