Friday 14 October 2011

WrinklesInTheMatrix: Oliver Letwin 1

Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, has been caught by the Daily Mirror throwing state secrets in a rubbish bin in the park:
David Cameron's right-hand man Oliver Letwin has been caught dumping secret papers in park waste bins.

The PM's blundering policy adviser was seen on five separate days throwing away sensitive correspondence on terrorism, national security and constituents' private details.
Now here's a wrinkle – four years ago, Mr Letwin said in the Times that:
Cameron Conservatism puts no faith in central direction and control. Instead, it seeks to identify social and environmental responsibilities that participants in the free market are likely to neglect, and then establish frameworks that will lead people and organisations to act of their own volition in ways that will improve society by increasing general wellbeing.
The suggestion then was that Mr Letwin was just the man to establish the framework within which people would behave responsibly. Now it seems perhaps that he isn't.


Psychological note: Everyone including Tony Blair had a good laugh at Mr Letwin's "sociocentric frameworks" and "econocentric paradigms" but his article was actually a bit serious and had something to do with "nudging", i.e. getting people to behave properly without passing laws all the time, an unimpeachable objective which somehow becomes sinister in his hands.

Obituary: his article was also intimately linked with the death of the Conservative party.


Scott Gronmark said...

Okat, DMossEsq - Liam Fox: I read a prepsoterous article somewhere last week that put forward the rproposition that someone should have informed his Permanent Secretary that Werrity was at the MoD more often than the Defence Secretary himself. That perplexed me. Is it conceivable the Permanent Secretary didn't know? In which case, why in the name of God didn't he alert all and sundry to the dangers? Was Fox manoeuvred out because he was sacking people? In which case, should we expect something unpleasant to happen to Eric Pickles before too long? We need to know!

David Moss said...

Normally I would happily join in and say something like:

Quite right, Mr Gronmark. It is Whitehall's duty to bind and truss ministers, to plan their every minute and encounter and Whitehall prides itself on doing just that, no telephone call gets through, no letter, no nothing, unless Whitehall wishes it to, and certainly no visitor.

It is possible that Whitehall, not liking the cut of Dr Fox's jib, deliberately allowed him to break the ministerial code precisely in order to be rid of him. And that is, if you follow that line, why the Telegraph today has been fed stories about Foxy ignoring the warnings he was given. Otherwise, heaven forfend, Whitehall might be seen to be guilty of a dereliction of duty.

Mr Pickles, like Reagan's budget deficit, is big enough to look after himself. But it's public servants lower down the food chain that he is getting rid of. Unlike Michael Gove, who seems to have an admirable ability to dislodge real mandarins from Whitehall. That looks to me like becoming a metric for democracy, how many notches are there in the minister's Colt 45, how many members of Whitehall has he dispensed with? The greater the number, the more the balance of power moves to politicians, away from officials.

But today, no I cannot join in happily. I am crying into my mashed potatoes. Goldman Sachs lost money in the second quarter. Stop the clock, as Auden said.

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