Whitehall goes into meltdown as the cuts kick in

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There’s a blog by an anonymous civil servant running on the Observer site. I believe it is genuine. Today’s headline is reproduced above. The sib is:

Morale is at an all-time low as ministers are forced to bin pet projects and the realities of ruling have to be faced

The whole piece is a classic. I’ll pick highlights:

The saddest sight is senior officials returning from ministerial meetings, faces white and heads bowed. Their projects are being annihilated: for some, their mission of many years has come to an end. They pretend to their staff that all is well, then throw years of labour in the bin.

This rings horribly true:

Ministers are starting to realise just how unpopular they are going to be. Civil servants are surprised at how long it has taken them.

Very tellingly:

The obsession with the deficit has gripped the public imagination. They understand the need to manage it. But there is talk of a fundamental strategic mistake. Was the government too resolute and swift? The coalition failed to build broad support and is looking increasingly isolated. This could have been prevented with more talking, listening and charm. Instead, the government faces a range of opponents whose voices are growing louder by the day. This mistake has broken the link with the previous government. The public no longer wants to hear that Labour caused the deficit. That's history. It is more worried about what will happen now.

If true, the countless hours of criticising the ConDems is beginning to pay off.

And it looks likely the yield will continue because of the fault line in ConDem thinking:

What else is the government planning? The draft conference speeches circulating Whitehall are heavy on rhetoric but light on ideas. There is very little detail about what will be done in practice. Ministers are desperate to move on to something else and talk about positive things that will interest voters. But this hits the ideological fault line. This is a laissez-faire government with a minimalist idea of what governing is all about.

A fault line that the civil servant says will be cruelly exposed:

The paradox is that, to shrink the state successfully, the government will need to micro-manage the process. This will sap ministerial energy and suck up precious political capital. While facing protests, petitions and strikes, ministers across Whitehall will be ticking spreadsheets for the next five years. Successful implementation will be the main measure of the government's success. The awful truth is that this can only be driven from the centre — and there will have to be targets, lots of targets.

I’ll repeat what William Keegan said this morning in summary:

I am seriously worried about what the coalition is — in my opinion unnecessarily — risking with the fabric of British society. Why should the vast majority of people, who were, or are, innocent victims of the crisis, be made to suffer?

The civil servant has realised this. And s/he realises that Keegan is right — and even King is right — in saying it is the ordinary people who will suffer. people who have a vote. people who will use it to sweep away this government and its dogma in a few years time.

That’s why the Labour party will have to believe in government.

Why it will need an industrial strategy.

And a tax strategy.

Why it will need the Green New Deal.

And much more — why it will need to evidence a belief in the people of this country — the need to let them flourish, and the need to let them work, where they are doing things of value to make this country prosper in a way that will repay our deficit and build hope for the future.

That’s what this blog is about. I sincerely hope a new Labour leader embraces those issues. For all our sakes.

Because we’re going in the other direction right now.

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