An actual Jungle, not from inside Whitehall and the Cabinet Office …
Brexit – you remember Brexit? It’s only four years since we voted to Leave. Now we can count down to another sort-of milestone: three more days to the point of no return, to the day when the PM has to beg Brussels for an extension. While it seems improbable that he’ll do this, Remain will try and squeeze in their watered-down demands in the hope that we’ll stay as close to Brussels and their level playing fields as possible. You might have noticed however that news from the Brexit front have become suspiciously scarce.
We have the general obsession with CV-19 to thank for that, but there’s one aspect to this where the proverbial chickens are slowly coming home to roost. It’s still a very gentle zephyr stirring the leaves in the MSM forests, but it’s there nevertheless: some brave writers have dared to mention the Civil Service, Whitehall, and even Sir Mark Sedwill. We’ll have to wait and see if there will be more of that in future or if, by general consensus in the Westminster Bubble, this will be made to die out, as ‘unsuitable’ for public discourse.
Remember: one of our Leavers’ arguments was that we don’t want to be governed by unelected, unaccountable, faceless men in grey suits. After the shambles that is Lockdown ‘rules’, ‘guidance’, and laws curtailing our civil liberties, proposed and installed by Whitehall Mandarins, we must not stop asking ‘who rules us in our own country’.
It’s also time to recall who was doing their utmost to scupper Brexit: certain Whitehall Mandarins. Let me make it clear that there’s at least one outstanding civil servant doing outstanding work and keeping his team under leak-lockdown: David Frost. I’ve often mentioned that most of the breathless Brexit ‘News’ reported in the MSM are based on gossip their Brussels correspondents are picking up: gossip dropped onto their laptops by ‘senior EU diplomats’ and ‘senior Brussels sources’, if not by That Man, Michel Barnier, himself.
This is the context for Charles Moore’s weekend essay for the DT where he lays out the case for streamlining our civil service (paywalled link). He is hanging his argument mostly on what happened during Lockdown:
“During Covid, it has become more obvious that the nuts of British administration have worked loose. […] on the whole, our civil and public service leaderships have tended to exhibit the confusion and self-protectiveness typical of big bureaucracy. Compare, for instance, the openness of the much less centralised German health services to business and university cooperation with the jealousy with which the NHS and Public Health England have tried to guard their own fiefdoms.” (paywalled link)
Ouch, innit – but ’tis true: ‘Our MSM’ have slapped Germany’s success round our and the government’s heads without ever asking ‘how did they do it’. However, the rest of this essay is about what Michael Gove is going to say in a speech later today, on changes needed in Whitehall in the wake of CV-19.
The interesting point here is that Mr Gove, a most clever political operator who has been remarkable out of the news and has not been criticised in ‘Our MSM’ as Johnson has been. He seems to groom himself as possible Johnson successor. Remember however that Gove and Cummings worked very successfully as team at the Department of education. Here’s more from Moore:
“This week, the media reported Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, as saying in a private meeting that a “hard rain” was going to fall on the Civil Service. This fitted our narrative of endless confrontation. Actually, he was saying something bigger. The hard rain, Mr Cummings thinks, will fall on the Government as a whole, on ministers and officials alike. Covid and the consequent drop in the economy […] has exposed Whitehall weaknesses, including the bloated shape of the Cabinet Office. It should be slimmer and more elite. Change, he believes, is what the most able of the next generation of young officials wants.“(paywalled link)
Now add an article in The Times into this mix. It’s headlined: “Sir Mark Sedwill: Cabinet secretary’s future in doubt after rival’s star rises” (link, paywalled). It is a bit of a muck-stirring report because that ‘rival’ whose star is ‘rising’ has only been in the job for a few weeks. That star, lately private secretary to the Duke of Cambridge, is Simon Case and has allegedly ‘impressed’ Johnson according to ‘insiders’. Since ‘Our MSM’ feel they must create controversy and fabricate gotcha moments the introduction to this article was entirely predictable:
“The future of Britain’s most senior civil servant was called further into question yesterday as Downing Street refused to say that Sir Mark Sedwill would serve as cabinet secretary into next year. Sir Mark has been the target of increasingly hostile briefing as Boris Johnson draws up plans for an overhaul of the Cabinet Office and Number 10 before what is regarded as an inevitable public inquiry into how the government has handled the pandemic.” (link, paywalled)
‘ Hostile briefings’? Dearie me – that’s terrible! But let’s not gloat – gloating is bad form! One needs to dig to find the meat in this article which spends a lot of pixels on journalists repeatedly asking about poor Sir Mark Sedwill’s future while the government spokesman says nothing at all, using standard phraseology about ‘trust’ and ‘working together’. The Times also reminds us that:
“Sir Mark was appointed by Theresa May, having served under her as permanent secretary at the Home Office and then as her national security adviser, a role he controversially kept despite being given the top job.” (link, paywalled)
It’s a little reminder for Remainers not to forget whom to thank for nearly achieving Remain. We remember that Sir Mark Sedwill appointed Oily Robbins, we remember the infamous May Withdrawal act and all that took place during her and their time in office.
And it’s nice to see that, as usual when some important government personage is perceived to be on his or her way out, ‘critics’ dare to come out of the Whitehall jungle’s undergrowth with observations they didn’t dare to make before, in case of retribution:
“Critics fear that Sir Mark, who served as an envoy in Afghanistan, is too steeped in security and foreign policy concerns and lacks the skills to tackle a complex domestic crisis. “Mark could convene a loya jirga [legal assembly] of Pashtun elders, wire up GCHQ and probably kill a man with his bare hands but Simon’s rather better at solving a series of ticklish problems and making the whole thing ‘tick’,” one said.” (link, paywalled)
Hm. A pity then that Sedwill put his Remain ideology before our, the citizens, Leave instruction and didn’t use those skills to stop Barnier … However, this isn’t just about Sedwill staying or not. The main reason why this issue is now becoming important isn’t even a reform of the Cabinet Office which is run by Sedwill and which has been identified as “too large, unfocused and unresponsive to political pressure as ministers grappled with multiple problems” (link, paywalled). It’s about getting those quacking waterfowl into a row for the inevitable inquiry into the handling of the pandemic and of Lockdown.
To make quite certain that we know this, The Times dedicates a good third of this report to what yon Professor Pantsdown has to say on that, e.g. advising that the inquiry ought to be delayed until the end of this year and that above all it shouldn’t become a ‘blaming exercise’. Yeah right – don’t blame him, don’t blame the models, but we know who will be blamed anyway: the PM.
I leave you with the unattractive news that the Archbishop of Canterbury demands that the Church of England now go on an ‘anti-slavery’ spree because > ‘BLM’. Statues and memorials in churches ‘will have to come down over links with slavery’, reviewing for example over 3,000 memorials in Westminster Abbey alone. His next remark takes the proverbial:
“He also said that it was time the Church reconsidered portraying Jesus as white. Asked if the “way the Western church portrays Jesus needs to be thought about again”, he said: “Yes, of course, this sense that God was white . . . You go into churches [around the world] and you don’t see a white Jesus. You see a black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jesus — which is, of course, the most accurate.” (link, paywalled)
Why the Bish thinks it’s acceptable that Jesus is portrayed as yellow or black but not as white even though Christianity grew in ‘white’ Europe is his secret. His point is that “we” must be historically accurate because not to be so would be racist. Eradicating our history is apparently irrelevant to him and the other virtue signallers.
Is his aim to turn our cathedrals into architectural museums, bereft of all memorials and paintings relating to the people who actually built those cathedrals and churches? The example of the Hagia Sophia comes to mind – only this time it’s our own so-called ‘spiritual leaders’ rather than invaders who are doing the damage. Eradicating our history, already well established in our educational institutions, seems to gather pace.
Is his aim to turn our cathedrals into architectural museums, bereft of all memorials and paintings relating to the people who actually built those cathedrals and churches? The example of the Hagia Sophia comes to mind – only this time it’s our own so-called ‘spiritual leaders’ rather than invaders who are doing the damage. Obliterating our history, already well established in our educational institutions, seems to be well on its way.
Apologies for this gloomy thought on a gloomy weekend. Nevertheless: we’ll
Photo by morberg