Archive for March, 2011

Impermanent secretaries

, 31 March 2011

At a time when Whitehall faces unprecedented cuts, and with a new ministerial management team in charge, it could be assumed that there would be a premium on experience and stability among top officials.

Tags: ,
Posted in Leadership for government | Comments Off

A tale of two knights

, 28 March 2011

Manchester boasts the greatest concentration of students west of Moscow.

Tags: ,
Posted in Leadership for government | Comments Off

A tale of two Huttons

, 24 March 2011

“Overpaid public sector workers ripping off the taxpayer with gold plated pensions”. This is the stuff of tabloid headlines but also reflects a perception within government and beyond that the way in which public servants are rewarded cannot continue as before. Hence the two Hutton reviews.

Posted in A more effective Whitehall, Leadership for government | Comments Off

Budget talk: An end to secrecy?

, 23 March 2011

In November 1996, the evening before the Budget, when I was Press Secretary at the Treasury, I had a phone call from No.10.  The Daily Mirror had a leaked copy of the Chancellor’s Budget speech.  They were planning to print. No.10 was trying to get an injunction – but we needed to make a...

Posted in A more effective Whitehall, Better policy making | Comments Off

War Powers

, 22 March 2011

Sending armed forces into military action is one of the heaviest responsibilities faced by a Prime Minister.  But it is one Government can take under prerogative powers without the consent of Parliament.  Ever since the Iraq war there has been a long running debate about how and when MPs should be involved in approving...

Posted in Parliament and the political process | Comments Off

How the most powerful mandarins spend their time

, 17 March 2011

BBC4′s The Secret World of Whitehall last night gave a fascinating glimpse into the secretive world of the incumbent Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell and the interactions between the Cabinet Office and No 10.

Tags: , ,
Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 4 Comments »

Japanese earthquake: tested to the limit

, 14 March 2011

The first quarter of 2011 has seen an unprecedented cluster of natural disasters in developed countries – from floods in Queensland and Victoria, to the Christchurch earthquake, to the devastation of northern Japan, with the added risk of nuclear fallout.

Tags: ,
Posted in Leadership for government | Comments Off

Doncaster, not Leicester, calls the shots in Sheffield

, 11 March 2011

The Full Monty, the 1997 comic hit about a group of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers, leaves outsiders with three misleading long-term impressions about the city – that steelmaking died; that low value jobs were the only replacement; and that the better-off largely fled the city.

Tags: ,
Posted in Leadership for government | 2 Comments »

What do ministers do?

, 10 March 2011

Prime ministers have sought to bolster the numbers by appointing unpaid ministers and platoons of parliamentary private secretaries. Currently, 141 MPs, 22 per cent of the total, hold some sort of position. This seems at odds with David Cameron’s pledge to cut the cost of politics.

Tags: ,
Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 1 Comment »

Shifting the blame

, 8 March 2011

John Reid had a go when he described the Home Office as “not fit for purpose”. Last week the Cabinet Secretary revealed that he had had to write to the Prime Minister asking him to rein in special advisors after personal attacks on a public official. And yesterday the Prime Minister himself was at...

Tags: , ,
Posted in A more effective Whitehall | 3 Comments »