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Anyone for re-politicising the civil service?

For all that the civil service has a certain organisational culture (it is not very keen on change, for example...), by and large it would seem to be staffed by men and women of good will seeking to serve the nation and who also are at the very least dimly aware of the dividing line between working for the administration and being party hacks.

This, however, would not seem to be good enough for sundry minister and ex ministers:

Straw: "For sure you shouldn’t turf people out as you come in, you should take those who are there, but as they change you should have a high level of discretion over them”.

Charles Clarke, another former home secretary, also expressed frustration with the fact that ministers were unable to swiftly get rid of unwanted permanent secretaries.

..David Blunkett said politicians were confronted with a system where they couldn’t appoint, promote or sack those working under them.

He said secretaries of state should be directly responsible for the appointment, from a shortlist, of their permanent secretaries and the next three highest ranks.

“How can you have a situation where in the end the permanent secretary isn’t answerable to the secretary of state, but is answerable to the secretary to the cabinet?” he asked".

I do not think that one would have to be up to an Olympic standard of cynicism to recognise that this would set place us on the express train to wholesale politicisation of the civil service, with advancement dependent on sucking up to ministers rather than ability to perform a task. Not good.
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Blogger Newmania said... 12:45 pm

Interesting C but how is this different to the pressurre that politicians have always and are , more or less, duty bound , to put on the Civil,Service ?

It is always said that after a long period of the same Party in Power the Servants go native and its pretty inevitable I would have thought.

I do not entirely share your sweetly trusting nature about the motives of the Mandarins as it is .

Good one , interssting subject  

Anonymous Benedict White said... 3:45 pm

Croydonian, I agree to some extent, but the problem remains, what do you do with a useless civil servent, or one who will not do what they are told to do?

I, having never been in government can't say what it is like, but you have to wonder?

The home office is a prime example. Alright Reid may well be an incompetent jerk, but his staff make even him look good!  

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