By Civil Service World

24 Oct 2012

A selection of comments on which hindsight offers a new perspective

Louise Casey
30 March 2004

In WWW’s fourth edition Louise Casey, then head of the government’s Anti-social Behaviour Unit, observed that she “is not very career-minded”; her contracted five years in the civil service “seems like a long time”, she added. b Casey insisted that she was unlikely to see her days out within Whitehall: “I enjoy the fact I am working in the civil service. But even if they wanted me, I don’t necessarily see myself as a long-term career civil servant.”

More than eight years on, Louise Casey is now head of the troubled families programme at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

George Osborne
8 February 2005

A fresh-faced Osborne, then working as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury during Michael Howard’s tenure as Tory leader, offered WWW his views on his party’s prospects at the looming general election: “Speaking as someone who was very close to William Hague, the advantage that Michael Howard has over his two immediate predecessors is that, as far as the public is concerned, he looks like a potential prime minister,” he said.

“Obviously, the battle in the election is about persuading voters he is the right person to be prime minister, but at least people can imagine him in Downing Street. Both Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague struggled with this at the time.”

George Osborne is now chancellor of the Exchequer. His cabinet colleagues include William Hague as foreign secretary, and Iain Duncan Smith as secretary of state at the Department of Work and Pensions. Michael Howard retired as an MP in 2010, and entered the upper house as Lord Howard of Lympne.

Ursula Brennan
12 September 2006

Brennan, then head of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, based in the Home Office, argued against the idea of breaking the department up.

“Some people want to see a Ministry for Justice, but the point about the criminal justice system is that it stretches all the way from community-based policing and Asbos right the way up to [tackling] terrorists,” she said. “You can’t envisage a single organisation that is ever going to cope with all of that. And for the protection of our rights and liberties and for the protection of the rights and liberties of offenders, you have to have people who have different responsibilities.”

Ursula Brennan is now permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

The Conservative Party
12 September 2006

When the Tories’ Public Services Improvement Policy Group published its initial findings, nearly a year after David Cameron’s election as leader of the Opposition, the party promised an “unambiguous commitment to growth” in the public services. The party had belittled public sector workers in the past, it said, and exaggerated what could be learned from the private sector. The report even appeared to criticise the Labour government for undermining public workers: “A private corporation which publicly shamed its employees in the way that government has done in recent years, would not long survive,” it said. Policy chief Oliver Letwin announced: “I think this marks a decisive turning point in the national debate on the future of our public services and a decisive turning point for the Conservative Party.”

Last year, the prime minister attacked civil servants as “enemies of enterprise”; last month, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude alleged that “permanent secretaries have blocked agreed government policy”. Meanwhile, the government has imposed a pay freeze, effectively capped public sector pay, raised pension contributions, cut redundancy and pension payments, announced plans to cut 114,000 civil service jobs, and squeezed terms & conditions and union facility time.

Lord Lang
24 February 2010

Interviewed by CSW in his new job as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments – charged with policing the ‘revolving door’ between departments and private contractors – Lord Lang argued that ACOBA’s failure to scrutinise arms firms’ appointments of former Ministry of Defence officials between 2007 and 2009 wasn’t unduly concerning because most would have “self-scrutinised” before taking up jobs. “These are people of distinction who have had honourable and successful careers,” he said.

Asked whether people might have said the same about MPs before the expenses scandal, he replied: “I don’t think it is a fair parallel. The kind of people that come before us are sought after because of their successful and distinguished careers. MPs are elected from a wide range of sources. Some are very able; some probably less so.”

Last weekend, the Sunday Times exposed several former top-ranking military officers offering to lobby on behalf of arms manufacturers, in breach of ACOBA rules. An ACOBA spokesperson called the allegations “serious” and called for an urgent investigation.

All reporting by Matt Ross, Tim Fish, Jess Bowie and Joshua Chambers

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