Archive for May, 2012

Civil service reform: meltdown or business as usual?

, 31 May 2012

Veterans of relations between Number 10, the Cabinet Office, advisers and ministers would find nothing new in the noisy process of producing the plan. Sir Jeremy Heywood was characteristically sanguine at the Public Accounts Committee recently as he acknowledged the ‘frustration’ experienced by those trying to drive change in the Civil Service. Rather than...

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U-turns — better late than never

, 29 May 2012

U-turn is among the most over-used terms in political debate along with ‘the most disastrous week ever’; ‘it’s not brain surgery/rocket science’; ‘UKplc’. It is part of gotcha journalism and politics, when a government weakness and policy change is highlighted — as is happening now with the withdrawal of Budget proposal on hot takeaway...

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U-turns on pasty and caravan tax are a bad omen for the spending round

, 29 May 2012

If Defra gave a subsidy of £105m a year to bakers who put their pasties in an oven and then leave them on a shelf or the Department of Transport spent £35m every year subsidising the owners of static caravans we would laugh at them. The Treasury would be first in line demanding these...

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Implementation, implementation, implementation

, 24 May 2012

Last week I participated in a panel at a Green Alliance event on the Green Deal. Someone from Chiswick complained that he had asked some local builders for quotes to renovate his newly acquired house – they had all offered to install solar panels – but none had offered him ‘Green Deal’ improvements. That...

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Irresistible government targets

, 22 May 2012

Today, the phrase “community trigger” was coined, as Home Secretary Theresa May proposed that the police would have to respond when a certain number of families complained about antisocial behaviour. Doesn’t this look rather like a target demanding 100% compliance backed up by legislation? Also today, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that he...

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Bad reviews? Lessons from the Beecroft report

, 22 May 2012

‘Celebrity reviews’ got a bad name in Whitehall under Gordon Brown. The accepted modus operandus was for a big name to be hauled in to do a review under the close supervision of the Treasury – and come up with recommendations in line with the thinking of the Chancellor’s key advisers and provide cover for...

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Doing GOD?: Gus O’Donnell and better policy making

, 11 May 2012

The ten policy making commandments: 1. Thou shalt be clear about the outcomes that you want to achieve Agreed. Policy fundamental number one is to be clear about your objectives. 2. Thou shalt evaluate policy as objectively as possible Agreed. Fundamental no. 7. Evaluation important – but still an area of weakness when Gus...

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A legislative scorecard for the coalition government

, 10 May 2012

Yesterday, the Queen opened the second session of the current parliament. This follows the unusually long 2010-12 session that began after the May 2010 election; each session begins after the monarch’s speech and divides up the ‘parliament’ that lasts from one election to the next. The coalition government has been perceived as having front-loaded...

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1, where next? Relaunching the coalition government

, 8 May 2012

The government’s intention is clear: to turn a page on the difficulties of the past few months and recapture the political agenda from its opponents, including those within the governing parties. But government renewal, as a forthcoming Institute for Government report will argue, is a tough task made more complex still by the pressures...

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A spad for all seasons: the reality for special advisers

, 2 May 2012

Special advisers are subject to their own strict code of conduct and the ministerial code states clearly that ministers are responsible for the management and conduct of their spads and are also ‘accountable to the Prime Minister, Parliament and the public for their actions and decisions in respect of their special advisers.’ The lines...

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