Thursday 10 November 2011

Oborneiana – Theresa May and Brodie Clark

Peter Oborne had an article published on the Daily Telegraph website dated 9 November 2011, 'Theresa May’s attempts to pass the buck make for a distressing spectacle'. The article provoked a strong desire to help him.

Not to help him just once:
You really couldn't be more wrong about Whitehall, Mr Oborne, if you tried.

Whitehall has become a law unto itself, unelected, unaccountable, out of political control, wasting public money by the lorryload, operating in secret, to an unknown agenda. (, see Ev W7)

Look at FiReControl, the project to establish regional centres for 999 calls to the fire brigade. The National Audit Office estimate that a minimum of £469 million of public money has been wasted. Do you seriously believe that that is all John Prescott's fault? (

Look at NPfIT, the NHS computerisation plan that is costing us £11 billion. Even the intervention of the Prime Minister can't turn Sir David Nicholson's head. (

Never heard of Sir David Nicholson? That's the problem. Massive openness needed. More reporting of Whitehall needed, in the nationals, by Peter Oborne and others.

Ministers do what their officials tell them. Otherwise they get spat out, like Liam Fox.

Theresa May is trussed up by her officials. The question isn't why she didn't follow the sensible plan Mr Oborne advances. It's why Whitehall didn't. And there, Mr Oborne, we have to look to you to investigate and report. (
Not just twice:
Mr Oborne

As you must know, senior officials don't get booted out of Whitehall just for incompetence. That's one of the recruitment criteria. And they don't get booted out for disobeying ministers. That's the job. So why was Brodie Clark suspended/fired/"resigned"?

It's a rare event and there's only ever one explanation -- vested interests are threatened.

What vested interests?

Perhaps Mr Clark will tell us on Tuesday. Or perhaps you will start doing some investigating and reporting. I've made a start for you -- Look out for the connections between Mr Clark, Raytheon, IBM, Morpho, CSC, VFS Global, ...
But three times:
Mr Oborne

As you must know, Whitehall doesn't like a public fuss. They don't want Theresa May and Yvette Cooper talking nonsense about biometrics in the House. It makes Whitehall look incompetent. Horror.

Think what happened the last time. Sir David Normington and Sir Gus O'Donnell called in the police to find Chris Galley, the Tory mole in the Home Office. Damian Green ended up in the nick for nine hours and the House of Commons was invaded by the police for the first time since the Civil War.

So the Home Office won't have wound up poor Theresa May and pointed her at the microphones unless there was a serious requirement to take the risk of making a fuss.

Brodie Clark must have been about to say something. Or John Vine must have been about to reveal something. That's what Mr Vine is paid to do and he's good at it.

Whatever the threatened revelation, it was enough for O'Donnell, Normington, Ghosh and maybe others to press the panic button.

Don't waste our time, Mr Oborne, talking nonsense about ministerial responsibility and an inviolably perfect Whitehall. Get on with finding out what rattled Sir Gus O'Donnell's cage and Sir David Normington's and Dame Helen Ghosh's -- especially hers, as she's likely to be appointed by O'Donnell and Normington as our next head of the home civil service.

You have a job to do, Sir. In the national interest. Get to it.


SDG said...

Your last two posts concerning the Theresa May-Brodie Clarke furore are both fascinating and highly informative so thank you. I can't quite make up my mind about Peter Oborne [his documentaries for Channel 4 are quite dire], but he writes sense usually and he knows a lot about cricket which indicates that his heart is in the right place.

David Moss said...

I share your ambivalence, as President Clinton almost said.

There's more to read I'm afraid.

Torygraph Reader said...

Oborne's odd. The two books of his I've read - The Triumph of the Political Class and The Rise of Political Lying were both excellent. When he started writing for the Telgraph, I looked forward to reading his stuff as an antidote to all the Polly Filla crap silting up the rest of the paper. But he seems to have decided that, because the creeps who run the politico-media show are a bunch of lying spivs (correct) that the traditional, "men in grey suits" section of the establishment - in other words, St James's clubmen - is all that stands between us and disaster. The trouble is, as you keep pointing out, DMossEsq, they're part of the problem - maybe the major part. I suspect theirs is a milieu Oborne feels at home in - but he really needs to get over that and start laying into them, and Torygraph readers like me might actually look forward to reading his stuff, rather than doing it as a sort of duty.

Torygraph Reader said...

Also, I have to tell you that the last thing anyone paid to commentate on politics for TV, radio or the Press actually does is find stuff out. They have servants (i.e. real real reporters) to do that for them. These rather grand chaps feel that their role is simply to interpret what's already in the public domain. They don't do what you do - i.e. dig.

David Moss said...

I take the point, Mr Reader. There are many classes of journalist. Some detectives. Some polemicists. And some mouthpieces.

Rachel Sylvester in this morning's Times reproduces many of the points made on this blog, e.g. "The civil servants may answer to politicians, but they also have an extraordinary power over them. Officials do not have to hang their ministers out to dry, they just let them hang themselves by not giving them all the support they need".

But then she does her mouthpiece bit: "She [Theresa May] took the decision to do this [dump on Brodie Clark], I am told, against the advice of Home Office civil servants, who thought it would be wiser to hold a swift internal inquiry and establish the full facts before suspending a senior member of staff".

"I am told"?

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