There were some in and around the Tory Party who had their doubts about the reliability of the Maily Telegraph when they “outed” David Laws, following on all that expenses business, but normal service has been resumed as the Government requires a suitable conduit through which to transmit the information to the Civil Service that they are to blame for the Coalition’s ills.
Horse Guards' Parade, with Government buildings behind
“Worst civil servants to be sacked” is the headline, for which the Tel has, er, no actual evidence at all. But what of the sub-heading? “Under-performing civil servants will be identified and fired under plans to rank all government officials in order of ability, The Daily Telegraph can disclose”. What indeed. Apart from a “Downing Street source”, and talk of what Steve Hilton said, there’s only one name.
And that name is – don’t laugh – Francis Maude. Oh dear. Maude is the buffoon who swallowed whole the “Taxpayer funded Trade Unionism” rubbish from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA). Taking on trust, and without a second opinion, a dodgy dossier from an Astroturf lobby group that knows sweet jack about the workings of any of the Government bodies it attacks is not a clever move.
But Maude knows the secret: ranking. If only all those Civil Servants could be ranked in order of their performance, then those at the bottom could all be sacked. This is a remarkably simple solution, so simple, in fact, that the thought enters that it could be a little too simple, to the extent of being another wheeze from the likes of the TPA, or another like minded group who sit on the sidelines and heckle.
Sadly, though, the Telegraph attack founders on the rocky outcrop of reality: the assertion that “4,000 mandarins could run the whole [British] empire” (and that they could all fit into Somerset House) is complete drivel. The number of “non-industrial” Civil Servants – in other words, administrative staff – in 1902, when that empire was at its zenith, was around 50,000 (you can see the figures HERE).
And by 1939 – before the retreat from Empire that came after World War 2 – this number had risen to 163,000. The chronology of recent reductions in headcount is equally shaky: the assertion that this level was “more than 500,000” at the last General Election is wrong. That number had fallen to 487,000 by the election. The so-called “efficiency drive” is merely continuing that reduction.
The blame game – the fuel crisis, as cited, was down to politicians’ decisions, not their Civil Servants – does not wash. Neither does the guff about ministers “with a background in business”. That’s just another lame appeal to authority. This “story” is no more than an attempt to put the frighteners on yet more public sector workers, and is revealed as a sham by the plainly fraudulent figures quoted.
But it does the Tories’ bidding, so that’s all right, then.