Transitions: Lessons Learned

Last night David Laws MP, Nick Boles MP and former Permanent Secretary, Matt Tee joined an invited audience and the authors of Transitions:Lessons Learned to discuss its findings.

Report co-author and IfG Director-designate, Peter Riddell opened the session referring to the “five days in May”, saying that the transition of power extended well beyond the initial negotiations.

Nick Boles agreed and recollected the work that took place in the Conservative Party before the Election, adding that where the transition was most successful, there was continuity between shadow ministers and those who eventually worked as ministers in the new government.

David Laws reflected observations in the Transitions report, saying that the Lib Dems didn’t do enough to prepare for government and that the Civil Service didn’t do sufficient work to prepare for the possibility of Lib Dem involvement. He went on to comment on the report’s consideration of the role of the Civil Service.

Matt Tee, who was Permanent Secretary for Government Communications at the time of the transition, recollected efforts taken to focus on the aspirations of the in-coming government. He noted that civil service communicators tended to be younger than others at equivalent grades and had less experience of a change of administration. This created specific challenges.

Transitions co-author, Cath Haddon said that there were still questions about whether a less hurried transition might have given opportunities to consider the “unpredictable” elements of government and that, in looking ahead to 2015, all the key players have the opportunity to take a longer view and prepare for all the eventualities.

A session of questions and answers followed the event, which will be available soon on our website.