Evans: CS tensions 'inevitable'

Tensions between civil servants in London and those in Edinburgh are “inevitable” over the next two years as we move towards the planned 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, Alun Evans, director of the Scotland Office, has told Civil Service World.

By Joshua.Chambers

19 Dec 2012

Asked whether there are tensions between civil servants in the two different governments, Evans said: “I’m sure there are tensions. It’s inevitable if people feel really strongly about articulating a particular argument in support of ministers”.

He added that the tensions arise “just on this issue of independence. It’s so high-profile; [and] it’s so fundamental to the future of the United Kingdom that it will be even more high-profile in the next few years.”

Asked whether these tensions could make it more difficult for the two governments to work together, Evans said: “Yes, it could be [more difficult]. Obviously, if you are arguing a case for one minister, and the other minister is arguing a very different case, you become loyal to the argument you are making.”

However, Evans also said that he “firmly believes” civil servants can have “a perfectly good and civil working relationship with civil servants working for the Scottish government, even though we are supporting policies which by definition are diametrically opposed, and in the end there can only be one winner.”

Evans also said that he will be calling on Whitehall departments over the next 18 months to help with communication efforts leading up to the Scottish referendum.

“Something I am thinking about is how we can up our game and numbers over the time to come, and the way to do it is to use other government departments to get our message out,” he said.

See full interview.


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