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Just now, littleyellowbirdie said:

John Major is the best PM we've had in my lifetime in my view.

I was neither a great admirer, nor critic of Major, but his undisguised disdain, even disgust for Johnson cranked the dial round for me. He knew exactly what Johnson was about.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, littleyellowbirdie said:

The civil service is very much part of the problem. David Blunkett articulated the extent to which civil servants would all agree among themselves what to present to ministers, somewhat taking away the agency of ministers to make decisions. While he frowned on referring to it as 'the blob', arguing quite fairly that it's not constructive, he did nevertheless acknowledge that it's very real;  He also highlighted the value of bringing in outsiders to departments on a long-term basis as a supplement to the civil servants.

And, it has to be said, there's very little doubt that our negotiations with the EU will have been severely hampered by the very obvious resistance in the civil service, to the country's overall detriment.

Yes I've heard this said and read about it. The Yes Prime Minister syndrome. Maybe there is an old boys network still about. Sunak has dismissed the 'blob' quite recently though and alluded to many officials being exceptionally hard working, neutral and diligent. I trust his word actually more than the populist kinds of Tory MPs like Jenkyns (who is underwhelming and that's being polite). I have a young relative too who works there and whilst she may be loyal and of course is strictly confidential, she speaks very well on the hours people work. Whilst anecdotal, I trust her implicitly. I suppose every department is very different though. Some are leaner and meaner than others. Isn't that like most organisations?

I can't really comment with much confidence on Brexit, but it appeared to my eyes and reading that we were unprepared for a Yes vote and David Davis was far less prepared than Barnier, a fact which was well trailed in the postmortem. Barnier was shocked how blasé the UK negotiators were with very little of the detail to hand. I'm not sure one can blame the civil service for such a bad deal. Unless they poorly briefed ministers. Surely the deal struck was on Johnson. He championed it as if it was a triumph. It can't have been poorly negotiated if we take his words for it. Unless, he lied.

 

Edited by sonyc
Not forgetting Frost

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13 minutes ago, littleyellowbirdie said:

John Major is the best PM we've had in my lifetime in my view. And I agree with the comparison to Starmer.

There are similarities now you speak of it. Even to the degree of a slight adenoidal voice.

Wonder if Starmer is as keen on his peas?

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1 hour ago, sonyc said:

There are similarities now you speak of it. Even to the degree of a slight adenoidal voice.

Wonder if Starmer is as keen on his peas?

He likes a good Curry during lockdowns. So they have that in common.

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2 minutes ago, sonyc said:

Wonder if Starmer is as keen on his peas?

Or Curry?

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1 minute ago, KiwiScot said:

He likes a good Curry during lockdowns. So they have that in common.

Ah.. beat me to it Kiwi.

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1 minute ago, KiwiScot said:

howzat!

Indeed, there are some sharpshooters about today!

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12 minutes ago, sonyc said:

Sunak has dismissed the 'blob' quite recently though and alluded to many officials being exceptionally hard working, neutral and diligent. I trust his word actually more than the populist kinds of Tory MPs like Jenkyns (who is underwhelming and that's being polite).

 

A lot of it is vicious circles. David Blunkett described the Home office as a basket case, which had been like that for decades. He put it down to a vicious circle of poor reputation meaning any talent in the civil service avoid it like the plague.

That sounds like soundbites from Sunak differentiating himself from those who complain about 'the blob'. Like I said, Blunkett described behaviours in the civil service that completely fit with 'the blob' argument that basically ensures politicians have no real access to the levers to make things happen. While 'the blob' might upset some for its somewhat low-brow populist tone, what it refers to is clearly a real phenomenon. You can't even call it a conspiracy really; it's more just natural corporate-style politics.

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1 hour ago, Fen Canary said:

Ah ok, I misunderstood. I agree that I wish politicians would be more honest about the choices we face and the trade offs needed, however I don’t think you can blame the confrontational nature of the Commons for that. I don’t know of any politician the world over who is ever honest about the potential downsides of any of their proposed policies, that usually comes from the opposition trying to pick holes in it 

That sounds wonderful but I'm afraid if either of the two main parties was honest about what is needed they would lose. We're in a mess. We could possibly have coped with Covid and Brexit on their own but not one after the other. 

What is needed before politicians can start being honest is for a generation of very backward looking people to die so we rejoin the EU. We can't move forwards and rebuild our economy without that. 

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, littleyellowbirdie said:

A lot of it is vicious circles. David Blunkett described the Home office as a basket case, which had been like that for decades. He put it down to a vicious circle of poor reputation meaning any talent in the civil service avoid it like the plague.

That sounds like soundbites from Sunak differentiating himself from those who complain about 'the blob'. Like I said, Blunkett described behaviours in the civil service that completely fit with 'the blob' argument that basically ensures politicians have no real access to the levers to make things happen. While 'the blob' might upset some for its somewhat low-brow populist tone, what it refers to is clearly a real phenomenon. You can't even call it a conspiracy really; it's more just natural corporate-style politics.

Yes, have heard it about the Home Office. I expect there is a truth somewhere, probably in the middle...and Blunkett is always worth a listen. I have never believed in it being a conspiracy either but just won't accept (very easily) simple labels for whole institutions (especially complex ones*).

Edited by sonyc
* like blaming a football manager for everything that goes wrong

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, sonyc said:

Yes, have heard it about the Home Office. I expect there is a truth somewhere, probably in the middle...and Blunkett is always worth a listen. I have never believed in it being a conspiracy either but just won't accept (very easily) simple labels for whole institutions (especially complex ones*).

If politicians are blaming Civil Servants for their failure it's because they're not very good politicians. 

To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Blair and Thatcher had very few problems with them. 

Edited by dylanisabaddog
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2 minutes ago, dylanisabaddog said:

If politicians are blaming Civil Servants for their failure it's because they're not very good politicians. 

To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Blair and Thatcher had very few problems with them. 

If you can't get a policy implemented it's not because of civil servants scuppering it, it's normally because the policy is utter nonsense and unworkable. See brexit for example. 

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7 minutes ago, dylanisabaddog said:

If politicians are blaming Civil Servants for their failure it's because they're not very good politicians. 

To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Blair and Thatcher had very few problems with them. 

I think it's such an easy label to throw around and shows a lack of statesmanship in any politician. Look at yourself first before you cast blame. 

I'm quite sure civil servants frustrate at times but there will be reasons for that!

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, dylanisabaddog said:

If politicians are blaming Civil Servants for their failure it's because they're not very good politicians. 

To suggest otherwise is nonsense. Blair and Thatcher had very few problems with them. 

What simplistic bombastic nonsense. And I'll remind you that, for all the issues with the civil service, there has not been an episode as bad as that with John Kelly; an unparalleled example of a government throwing an out of favour civil servant to the dogs .

Edited by littleyellowbirdie

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, sonyc said:

I think it's such an easy label to throw around and shows a lack of statesmanship in any politician. Look at yourself first before you cast blame. 

I'm quite sure civil servants frustrate at times but there will be reasons for that!

Sorry, but I don't agree at all. I'll refer to Blunkett's comments again: In a democracy, the civil service is supposed to take its signals from elected politicians. If government changes, the civil service should be changing with it according to policy changes. It's not acceptable for the civil service to 'manage' elected politicians.

It'll be interesting to see if this unconditional and unquestioning support of civil servants over elected politicians continues as the next government evolves.

Edited by littleyellowbirdie

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Civil Servants do their job by stopping idiots doing stupid things, they've been very busy dealing with Raab, Badenoch, Braverman, Patel etc.

The next government will seem like a holiday in comparison.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, A Load of Squit said:

Civil Servants do their job by stopping idiots doing stupid things

That's not their job.

Edited by littleyellowbirdie
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1 hour ago, A Load of Squit said:

The EU deal was sh!t because they sent a clever person and we sent a succession of idiots who believed they were clever.

Crikey. Why didn't you tell us you were our Brexit negotiator before now?

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Just now, littleyellowbirdie said:

Crikey. Why didn't you tell us you were our Brexit negotiator before now?

The above response is from an idiot who thinks he's clever.

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2 hours ago, littleyellowbirdie said:

John Major is the best PM we've had in my lifetime in my view. And I agree with the comparison to Starmer.

You’re easily pleased YB. He liked peas and loved a Curry but that’s all I can remember about his reign. 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Midlands Yellow said:

You’re easily pleased YB. He liked peas and loved a Curry but that’s all I can remember about his reign. 

Exactly. Whereas Thatcher’s remembered for privatisation and closing coal mines, Blair’s remembered for taking us into a war that irreparably damaged the UN, Brown is remembered for a whole host of sleaze and the economy crashing, compounded by the bank mergers Brown pushed through as chancellor. Im assuming you’re not going to argue anyone after Brown was better.

Edited by littleyellowbirdie

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43 minutes ago, dylanisabaddog said:

He's thinking about Ange😍

Who isn't,  eh?

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5 hours ago, Midlands Yellow said:

You’re easily pleased YB. He liked peas and loved a Curry but that’s all I can remember about his reign. 

Edwina Curry

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6 hours ago, A Load of Squit said:

Yes it is.

No it isn’t. The civil service can offer advice, but it’s supposed to follow the wishes of the democratically elected MP.

If they’re not happy with the direction that MP wants to go then they should stand for election themselves. You shouldn’t be allowed to have the power to set policy with the accountability to the electorate that comes with it 

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5 hours ago, Midlands Yellow said:

You’re easily pleased YB. He liked peas and loved a Curry but that’s all I can remember about his reign. 

Started off a lot of the work to resolve the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Blair should get a lot of credit for that as a high point of his reign, but Major laid the foundations. Some would say Maastricht was a weakness, some a strength, but he had to fight extremely hard to get that one over the line.

That "back to basics" campaign was unfortunate as the Tories were beginning to hit one of their spells where all the cats in their tent started caterwauling all at once and whizzing off in different directions.

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