Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We Are Being Poorly Governed

Simon Heffer in the Telegraph is no friend to David Cameron, and he uses his column today to note the growing unrest amongst Conservative backbenchers at Cameron's leadership. In this, he echoes other right-wing commentators such as James Kirkup, Tim Montgomerie and James Forsyth (see earlier posts). However, he has a fresh take on one aspect of the problem that the Coalition government is facing, and that is the very quality of governance.

Heffer cites the recent Forest Furore as an example of idiotic presentation of a policy, and goes on to examine the Defence Department. He has harsh words about the quality of the all important civil service:

One of the greatest difficulties the Government has is with the quality of the Civil Service, diminished and emasculated after 13 years of politicisation by the Labour administration. A reader wrote to me last week about how a letter to her husband from the Ministry of Defence began "Dear Lt Cdr (Ret'd) Smith", something that one hopes would make the First Sea Lord weep. At the top level, inexperienced and compromised permanent public servants are shaping and supporting decisions made by inexperienced and not especially bright politicians. The Cameron loyalist to whom I spoke, having praised much else that was happening, conceded that the defence review had been a "shambles". Given the quality of those who had to put it together, that can hardly be wondered at.

Attacks on Mr. Cameron's leadership have more than a whiff of the political partisan about them of course, and should be sifted accordingly, but the civil service, the once reliable, ultra professional, neutral, impeccable, Rolls Royce engine of the civil service - well, if that's failing us, can it be long before the ravens start to leave the Tower of London?

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