Götterdämmerung in the Whitehall swamp?
First the good news: we’re only hours away from the expiration of the deadline at which we need to beg the EU for an extension. David Frost is in Brussels, negotiating with Barnier face-to-face, so far without any leaks.
Now the ‘bad’ news: ‘Our MSM’, especially RemainCentral, are overflowing with opinion pieces on yesterday’s “Sedwill Ousting”. There are also the obligatory articles on CV-19, for example that Leicester, having experienced a ‘spike’, might get a local Lockdown.
Across the Western world ‘science’ editors in the international MSM seem to be determined to keep nations behind bars and never mind the increasing danger of an economic catastrophe. They seem to have become addicted to ‘Fear and Hysteria’. The ‘hour of the experts’ isn’t over yet, as far as they’re concerned. As said ‘experts’ fight their rearguard actions we can observe the politicalisation of anything to do with CV-19.
In the USA for example the CV-19 panjandrum Mr Fauci has jumped in with both feet, smearing those who are against a forced CV-19 vaccination as ‘anti-science’ (link, paywalled). Meanwhile ‘Our MSM’ are still publishing puff pieces on weddings and summer holidays here in the UK, or about how CV-19 will ‘set back female careers and earnings by decades’ (link). So now we know: CV-19 is both racist and misogynist!
And so to the Sedwill ‘saga’. Yesterday we had the inevitable ‘senior Whitehall sources’ telling everybody that poor Sedwill left because of the many ‘vicious, anonymous’ briefings against him. Today there are articles full of vicious briefings by ‘sources’, some even named, against David Frost. That’s perfectly acceptable, apparently.
There’s of course the inevitable praise for Sedwill. What one of his defenders wrote is extremely interesting. Step forward William Hague (remember him?) He informs us:
“Sir Mark has been a pretty good example of the risk-taking and expertise – on national security – that Michael Gove correctly wants to encourage. I first met him when he was Ambassador to Afghanistan – not exactly a cushy number with a full-scale war going on and the embassy itself often under attack. When he returned, I gave him a senior role in the Foreign Office, only for Theresa May to decide she had to have him help her sort out the Home Office. I said she could only take him if the Prime Minister himself, David Cameron, called me and insisted on it, which he duly did.” (paywalled link)
Hague seemingly thinks that ‘risk’ as in physical risk, being ambassador in an embassy often under attack, is the same as taking risks by making political decisions. Note also that having been an ambassador was no obstacle to Sedwill’s further career.
Next, see the following, quite extraordinary negative briefings collected in an article in The Times. Under the headline “David Frost to have ‘problems’ gaining trust as national security adviser” RemainCentral dedicates a whole article to them:
“Lord Ricketts, the first person to serve as national security adviser, questioned whether Mr Frost could win the trust of the agencies. “David Frost doesn’t have a national security background, he hasn’t worked in defence or security or intelligence,” Lord Ricketts said. “But even if he had, the fact that he’s a political appointee will worry people because they won’t know exactly what role he is playing. He will have problems creating trust.” (link, paywalled)
Note that last remark: it doesn’t matter if Mr Frost does or doesn’t have a national security background – it’s about the first of the mandarins (ret’d) setting the tone for undermining Mr Frost by declaring that the civil serpents won’t trust him, even before Mr Frost got his feet under the table. Next:
“Others still working in Whitehall were more blunt. “It’s a joke,” one defence official said. “He is totally unqualified. They must be sick of experts.” A former diplomat said Mr Frost’s appointment was not well received by colleagues still working on security and intelligence briefs. The former envoy said: “They say he does not have the background to have the job.” (link, paywalled)
Ooh – do we detect a whiff of sour grapes? And given the historical track record of all those ‘experts’, why shouldn’t we be sick of them? Then we come to the crux of the matter which so enrages Whitehall:
“A former intelligence official said a political appointment was “completely inappropriate in a job where your sacred duty is to speak truth to power”. Lord O’Donnell, questioned how Mr Frost’s appointment chimed with Michael Gove’s call for more diversity and expertise in government. “His national security background seems to me a little thin,” he told Times Radio.” (link, paywalled)
Note the typical Lefty wail of ‘speaking truth to power’. RemainCentral adds an opinion piece the headline of which takes the proverbial – involuntarily, I hasten to add: “This pin-striped purge is political vandalism – Downing Street’s cull of senior civil servants is more about a ‘one of us’ mentality than about improving ordinary lives” (link, paywalled).
‘Political vandalism’? This is now ‘a purge’, a ‘cull’? Hyperbole much, Ms Sylvester? How have those ‘culled’ Mandarins improved ‘ordinary lives’ while in office? Here’s more, and it’s heaving with bile while compassionately not mentioning why those mandarins had to go:
“A friend of the country’s most senior civil servant says he will be relieved to leave behind a dysfunctional and divisive Downing Street. “He’s fed up with them,” the ally told me. “There’s only so much you can put up with and the way they operate is appalling.” But Sir Mark’s departure is part of a pattern in which Sir Philip Rutnam has resigned from the Home Office and Sir Simon McDonald has been eased out of the Foreign Office, prompting concerns about the politicisation of the civil service. “What they’re doing with Mark demonstrates that unless you are ‘one of us’ and think the right way they will treat you nastily,” says one Whitehall grandee.” (link, paywalled)
We remember that Sir Philip Rutnam resigned in a huff because he was found out having undermined Ms Priti Patel at every opportunity. Sir Simon McDonald took early retirement, cloaked compassionately with the excuse that the FO and DfID were now merged while in fact he was found out to have ‘mis-spoken’ when stating that government took a political decision not to join the EU ‘ventilator scheme’ at the beginning of Lockdown when there was no such decision. This was interpreted by Our MSM as Johnson putting Brexit before the health of the nation. McDonald subsequently apologised, in typical Mandarin fashion:
“[He] subsequently wrote to the committee chairperson, Tom Tugendhat, stating that he had “inadvertently and wrongly” misadvised the committee “due to a misunderstanding”. (link)
Some ‘cull’, this! Lying as long as it’s against Brexit is fine, isn’t it. Not content with viciously briefing against Frost – never mind Cummings, that’s a given now – the next in the firing line of Remain Mandarins, briefing anonymously and viciously, is Michael Gove, after his long speech on civil service reform – you can read it here, I lost the will to live halfway through. Again, this pure bile comes under ‘getting one’s retaliation in first’:
“The contrast between what Gove says and what they do is unbelievable,” says one former permanent secretary. “He’s against confirmation bias but wants to recruit people who think like him. Cardinal rules are being broken, basic propriety and ethics have gone out the window, and the decision-making is a shambles. The way they operate does not aid good government, demonstrated by the fact we have probably got among the worst records for handling the virus.” (link, paywalled)
And then the Times ‘writer’ of that compilation descends into pure puerility and whataboutism:
“The latest stand-off can be partly explained by the fact that a pandemic blame game is already under way. Downing Street wants to pin responsibility on the civil service but officials know what mistakes have also been made by ministers and political advisers.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear – will those ‘officials’ now drip even more vicious negative briefings into the open ears of the Remain MSM? In the last paragraph the writer of this piece gives the game away:
“A purge of mandarins will not make any difference to schools, hospitals or living standards. The radicals in Downing Street behave like insurgents but they are the establishment now. They will be judged by results. The key test for governments is what they create, not what they destroy.” (link, paywalled)
We’re still living with the consequences of the destruction of our society by the Blair ‘radicals’ – something the crop of civil serpents raised during that period seem to believe is sacrosanct and must not be allowed to change. The Westminster Bubble dwellers now bemoaning that Frost is a political appointment and thus ‘not accountable’ to Parliament forget that Select Committees can and do call anyone on the carpet.
‘Our MSM’ omit to mention the astounding accumulation of power in Sedwill’s hands. He was not just the Cabinet Secretary and the National Security Adviser, he was also head of the Civil Service. How on earth did he have time to do all those jobs properly! The Times in their editorial hints at the underlying problem:
“It is hardly sustainable for any prime minister to view their cabinet secretary as another leader of the opposition, still less one seeking reform of Whitehall. […] Briefings that Mr Johnson favours a Brexiteer for the role, however, are worrying […] his next cabinet secretary should be chosen on merit alone, not ideology.” (link, paywalled)
And finally, since RemainCentral reminds us that ‘ideology’ is bad, and since we Leavers know full well about the Remain ideology so pervasive in Whitehall, may I respectfully suggest that Whitehall better gear up not just for the CV-19 pandemic inquiry but also for the inevitable Brexit inquiry. As Tom Harris observes in his opinion piece in the DT:
“It is up to the electorate, not civil servants, to make the judgment as to whether those policies are right for the country. As well as the structure of government, it is the culture and mindset that needs reforming.” (paywalled link)
Amen to that! Perhaps more mandarins need culling. Meanwhile, let’s hope that no amount of vicious, unfair, negative briefings against Frost will prevent the necessary changes.