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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One has had to take some time digesting Tuesday's interview with Lord Turnbull, the former head of the Civil Service, published in the Financial Times today..
In it, Lord Turnbull blankly states that Gordon Brown has a 'Stalanist ruthlessness' in his dealings with his colleagues, and that Gordon refuses discussions concerning priorities..
Lord Turnbull continued to say, that Gordon has a 'very cynical view of mankind, and his colleagues'..
Lord Turnbull's comments, unprecedentedly outspoken for such a senior civil servant, came the day before what is expected to be Mr Brown's final Budget before he succeeds Tony Blair as Prime Minister.
The Treasury has refused to comment on the Financial Times interview.
Lord Turnbull also declined to discuss his comments, because he thought he had done "enough damage already.

In fact, Lord Turnbull had expected this interview to be published after the budget had been presented..
Now, nobody suggests that these criticisms are not widely shared.
Lord Turnbull's attack mirrors that of the former Home Secretary Charles Clarke - another who went rather further in print than planned... and that of the anonymous Cabinet minister who said that "Gordon Brown will make an f…ing terrible Prime Minister"...
No one close to Gordon Brown protests that there's no truth in the suggestion that their man exhibits "Stalinist ruthlessness", and has, at times, ignored, belittled or insulted other Ministers.
The debate is about whether Brown's uncompromising style was good or bad for government and whether he needs to, and is capable of, changing his attitude if he gets to Number 10.

The case against Brown is clearly spelt out in Turnbull and Clarke's interviews.
Government, they argue, should be a team sport.. and Gordon is not a team player. He and his clique have fought colleagues rather than working with them; divided government rather than united it; and been dictatorial rather than consultative.
He has, in Tony Blair's phrase, been "a great clunking fist".
Now, the question is, does Gordon need to change if he takes the reins of government?
The answer, at least that shared among those closest to him, is 'yes'..
Prime ministers depend on wooing and cajoling other departments and have few levers themselves to pull.
The debate is between those who think he's capable of such change, and those, who like Lord Turnbull, have... well... their doubts...
Lord Turnbull told a BBC Radio 4 interviewer:
“Was too much policy developed at the centre? Yes, I think it was. The occupants of 10 and 11 have got to be very sensitive to the downside of taking over a piece of policy that could be done in a department. It’s often a short sighted view because if you are constantly taking something over you will not develop the capability and also people won’t develop the sense of pride, they will actually feel belittled.”
He goes on.. “All the time you are leaning in the other direction, to say ‘no, don’t do it that way, take it through a cabinet committee or something, something that may look quite bureaucratic but ultimately gives you a better decision and a better sense of buy in’ …That is the tide that you are always swimming against …. I felt I was swimming against the tide which is quite tiring, but hopefully I wasn’t swept away.”
Not the type of endorsement Gordon really needs, with a Leadership battle upcoming.. there are two who will run against him, but the chances of their actually taking the post away from Gordon are that slim, that there is really no point in even mentioning their names.
But, the point remains, that for any who may have watched the television program 'Yes Prime Minister', that the PM must have a solid working relationship with his Civil Servants, and it would appear that Gordon lacks the tact, and the trust, to develop such a situation...
It will be interesting to watch, while the clock ticks down to the next General Election, as to how many points David Cameron and his Conservatives will score, simply because Gordon, as PM, cannot work with his own bureauocracy.

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