Radomir Tylecote has written an excellent analysis in the Telegraph setting out how the Tories are not, as they like to imagine, the victims of the Blob, but its creators. Here’s an excerpt.
After the fall of Dominic Raab, it was a question of when – not if – the Blob would claim its next scalp. And, in the past week, our Home Secretary and former-Prime Minister (again) have found themselves in the firing line.
This points to a crisis which extends far beyond the fate of Boris Johnson. Working as a special adviser, I worried that some civil servants were treating elected ministers, especially Brexiteers, as just another group of ‘stakeholders’. Actual decision-making power has been moving from elected representatives to so-called experts (or, more exactly, bureaucrats).
This has not happened overnight. It is the result of concession after concession that has allowed the state to rise above elected politicians, some of whom have focused on headlines instead of doing their central task: running the state instead of being run by it. For all the complaints of ‘witch-hunts’, of the ‘Blob’, of a Left-wing ‘economic establishment’, there is no mention of how successive Governments enabled it. The huge increase in labour market regulation, much of which did not come from Brussels, has suffused all areas of the civil service. The inability to approach diversity and inclusion from a sensible, rather than a woke, starting point, has allowed the mantra to permeate public services. ‘Treasury orthodoxy’ is partly a failure of those Conservatives too timid to make the case for growth and a smaller state.
A series of reforms since the Blair years made civil servants effectively un-sackable by ministers and unleashed the sock-puppet state-funding of Left-wing charities, undermining the policies officials are supposed to enact. The British people may elect leaders at the ballot box, but are then left watching as those politicians become little more than performing frontmen, PR agents whose job it is to present policies drawn up in Whitehall as ‘conservative’.
This creates all manner of perverse incentives. Ministers who make it to the top are increasingly those who tacitly accept this. “Taking official advice” is now a virtual philosophy of government – and this is dangerous for our society. It tells the British people their democracy is increasingly unable to deliver what they choose. For Conservatives, the result is stasis: dreary, EU-aligned, woke.
Tylecote proposes radical civil service reform to bring the U.K. in line with other democracies and end the increasingly untenable pretence that the civil service is politically neutral. This includes: “Making senior civil servants properly accountable to ministers, sizeable teams of genuinely expert advisers and, like in other democracies, political appointments in departments.”
Civil service reform sounds dull, there are few votes in it directly and it will be extremely hard to deliver, but it’s essential if democratically elected Governments are to be in control of the country again. It should form a centrepiece of any future Government programme.
Worth reading in full.
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