Do you remember Sir Humphrey Appleby? If so – do you think this was a very funny, over-the-top portrayal? Think again! Mrs Thatcher thought it was more fact than fiction, and she knew a bit about the inner workings of Whitehall. Do you remember a certain Tony Blair? In his resignation speech he darkly said that he could have achieved much more if Whitehall hadn’t blocked him. So what is this walk down Memory Lane about?
It’s about the fact that our politicians, especially our Ministers in the four big offices of State (Home, Foreign, Defence, Treasury) have been and still are being domesticated, if not dominated, by the Mandarins of Whitehall, the Sir Humphreys.
That’s why we suddenly get to hear news such as this latest proclamation of the “Brexit Minister”, David Davis*), that yes, we would “consider making payments to the EU after it leaves the bloc to secure the best possible access to the EU single market”, (BBC News), or these ‘private’ mutterings from Boris Johnson to his ambassadors that he actually backs ‘free movement’.
That’s why it feels as if we’re still in the middle of a vicious campaign for Brexit. It feels as if June 23rd never happened, as if 17.4 million voters had never voted, as if we need to be told again to stay within the embrace of Brussels.
While our disdain for the politicians is growing daily by leaps and bounds, we must however be fair: it’s not all the fault of our Ministers and MPs! There are others who are not in the limelight, who are much more deserving of our ire: the Mandarins of Whitehall.
Haven’t we heard over the years Ministers telling the Commons that there is nothing they can do when it comes to EU directives and laws affecting our lives? How do these Ministers know that? Because the civil servants, the Mandarins of Whitehall, tell them so!
Haven’t we all wondered how come the French agree to EU Laws but don’t apply them, whereas we always comply, to the detriment of our country? Wonder no longer: our Mandarins have decreed that the EU is good for us, and that’s that.
Any politics nerd who has read the memoirs or diaries of past ministers knows that it’s the Mandarins of Whitehall who give them the advice, the arguments and the data on which to base their decisions, which they then ‘recommend’ to the House. This has not changed in seventy years. In fact, thanks to the EUrification of our country, it has become worse.
Any politics nerd who has followed debates in the HoC will have noticed how politicians, once they become a Minister or secretary of State, slowlly lose their previous attitudes to issues they have campaigned on, and even lose their fiery language. They are being domesticated by the Mandarins in their departments. The best “domesticators” must sit in the Foreign Office: the examples of William Hague and Boris Johnson before and after they became Foreign Secretary are striking!
Any politics nerd who has followed the news after June 23rd knows that the Mandarins had not prepared a ‘Plan B for Brexit’, just in case us peasants happened to actually vote to Leave. They never once thought that maybe their predictions might be wrong. They never doubted that we peasants would of course do as we were told – by them.
One of our arguments for Leave was that we did not want to be governed by faceless, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
Well, I have got news for you: we are governed by faceless, unelected bureaucrats, the Mandarins of Whitehall!
We don’t know who they are – unless we’re moving in highly elevated circles, and I don’t mean the Islington Dinner Club. Those who scan the Honours lists will get a glimpse of their faces and names – after they have been pensioned off and given their gong.
Over the decades, these Mandarins have developed extremely cosy relationships with their counterparts in Brussels. The systems of administration and the bureaucracies on the Continent are hugely different from ours. The bureaucrats on the continent can move seamlessly from the executive to the legislative and back. The administration of the EU, from its inception, is based on the French and German models, with the French one being the most impressive, the model which all other wish they could adopt. It was, naturally, created by that lover of democracy, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
The top French Mandarins get their education at the world-renowned school, the “Ecole Nationale d’Administration” (ENA). Alumni of that school, the ‘Enarques’, move from administration into politics and back as a matter of course – M Hollande being the latest example, and it’s these Mandarins who have influenced the way the EU is run.
Of course our Mandarins love this system! Formerly just ‘civil servants’, they have now become the unelected holders of power in our country. They direct policies, not our elected politicians whom they despise. They are the secret ‘elite’. They speak the language the bureaucrats speak in Brussels, Paris and Berlin. They have more in common with their counterparts in those countries’ administrations than they have with us and our representatives, the MPs.
The continuing befuddlement about Brexit, hard Brexit, soft Brexit, no Brexit, or a little bit of Brexit, but not really – that is what they are working on so hard, feeding their friends in the MSM. Obviously they are not at all working on real Brexit, the Brexit we voted for!
What we really need is a concerted action to shine bright lights into these secretive corridors of power.
We must insist that the Mandarins become our “civil servants” again. After all, we pay for them, as we pay for the Ministers and MPs.
We the people are the sovereign, not Parliament and especially not the faceless, unelected Mandarins of Whitehall.
It’s time we reminded them all of that fact!
*) It is of course entirely possible that David Davis is using obfuscation to confuse the Remoaner enemies at home and in Brussels …