ChristmasList: Misfeasance in public office
It was Christmas day in the harem,
The eunuchs were standing round [that's us, the public, we're the eunuchs],
And hundreds of beautiful women [or, at least, £710 billion of our money]
Were stretched out on the ground,
When in strode the bold bad sultan [or mandarin, Sir Gus O'Donnell]
And stared at his marble halls [or Whitehall]:
"What do you want for Christmas, boys?"
And the eunuchs answered tidings of comfort and joy
[viz. charges of misfeasance in public office
being brought against various satraps
e.g. Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS]
Okay, you seem to know what's going on in Whitehall. How come the diplomats who had been preparing the way for last week's EU non-agreement gave Cameron the impression his demands for protection for the UK finance sector would be acceptable to Merkozy? (Not that I'm complaining - the outcome was wonderful!) And, as they got it so spectacularly wrong, and gave such bad advice, what happens to them now? How are civil servants who have failed in their duties dealt with?
Or did they know it wouldn't work, and assumed that Dave would be bounced into agreeing to the Franco-Prussian plan?
In which case, they're guilty of treachery, and of misreading the politician they were supposed to be helping.
Either way, can we expect heads to roll? I mean, surely we pay these people to get these things right.
Dear Mr Reader
Thank you for your comment.
As you say: "surely we pay these people to get these things right". We want, need, deserve and pay for better government than this.
"... can we expect heads to roll?" – in the ordinary course of events, no. That is the point of this blog. Whitehall's misfeasance not only goes unpunished, it is rewarded.
David Cameron's exercise of the veto was not in the ordinary course of events. And France's diplomatic reaction – e.g. French bank wants to downgrade Britain’s credit rating – is utterly unprecedented.
It is only sensible to remain sceptical but the hope is that, perhaps, reality may be starting to re-assert herself and heads might roll.
As to "you seem to know what's going on in Whitehall" – I wish.
A propos, please see Whitehall Post-Its, Ministers' GMail to come under FOIA?, which includes:
Normally civil servants are able to set long-term policy free from scrutiny, while a carousel of ministers rotates, with barely enough time to master the jargon. Ministers who kick back against the permanent government have resorted to using back channels such as private email. The most successful Conservative Minister in terms of implementing his manifesto promises has been Michael Gove - who routed around the bureaucrats by discussing policy on GMail. Angry civil servants leaked the choicest parts to the Times
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