The most distinctive and internationally famous feature of British politics and Parliament is Prime Minister’s questions which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. The raucousness, noise, and adversarial point-scoring have often been deplored, not least by successive Speakers of the Commons. It is inconceivable, however, that it could ever cease.
As the scandal surrounding News International unfolds on a daily if not hourly basis, one issue which the Opposition and the media are likely to continue to press is the appointment of Andy Coulson to the Director of Communications role at No.10.
John Major nowadays rarely ventures into public debate. But in a Ditchley Foundation lecture delivered to a large part of the political and civil service establishment on Saturday, he set out not one but two bold ideas for today’s politicians to ponder.
“This is the new era of open government”. These words were not spoken yesterday by David Cameron at the launch of the Open Public Services White Paper, but by Jim Hacker MP, the fictional Minister of Administrative Affairs, in the first episode of Yes Prime Minister in 1980.
There has been much speculation about the forthcoming Open Public Services White Paper. Will it ever be published? How radical and useful will it be? Will it be a post-event rationalisation of existing reforms or a will it set the direction for future public service reforms?