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Only nuts and bolts reform will make us better governed in this new world - by Charles Moore

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Here is yet another excellent and "right on the button" article by the seasoned Charles Moore for the Telegraph dated 26th June 2020. The highlights of the article are these paragraphs:

"During Covid, it has become more obvious that the nuts of British administration have worked loose. There have been some under-reported triumphs – the quicker than expected payments of Universal Credit, Rishi Sunak’s successful underwriting of furlough via HMRC – but 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. Germany’s organisation against the virus has been correspondingly more successful.

Deep knowledge is rarely rewarded in the Civil Service. Almost as much as ministers, permanent officials are promoted from one disparate subject to another, without time to learn much or to have to face their own mistakes.

Cynics will object that attempts to streamline bureaucracy are as old as government itself. A new administration’s zeal for reform, they predict, is nothing that a couple of Civil Service “multi-agency working parties” cannot put to sleep. Cynics may well be proved right. But it is a false presentation to see what is happening as merely a ministers-versus-mandarins spat.

We all tend to denigrate civil servants. Sometimes they may deserve it. But, reasonably enough, they watch each new government to see if it means what it says. It is only when they are convinced that it really does, that they start trying to help. So far, that battle to convince them has neither been won nor lost. At least it is being fought."

In order to read the full article, please go to the Telegraph website if you are a subscriber or read the article in the attached pdf file:

Article by Charles Moore for the Telegra
Download • 43KB

This subject was again raised in the Telegraph on the 3rd October 2020. See the article by clicking on this link:

Article by Edward Malnick and Tony Diver
Download • 42KB

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