Monday, 1 December 2008

The Damian Green Affair: An Ex-Civil Servant Writes

I can honestly say that during my career as a civil servant I never leaked any information. The fact that I had signed the Official Secrets Act (twice actually, one for me and one for my Estabs. file) had nothing to do with it. The reason was that I dealt with Top Boring material that the most desperately-close-to-a-deadline-with-no-copy hack would not even use to wipe bird poo off a car. How I wished in my early days that the six foot tall armour steel safe in the office contained more than a copy of the combination numbers in case the Admin Assistant was sick and couldn't come in to open the safe. I saw minutes about proposals for open government marked confidential and a minute about a road on the Welch Borders replying to one on file 31 years before (not much need for "action this day" in Shropshire) but never anything that would set fire to every front page. Or if I did, I read it, forgot it instantly and made a coffee. Oh, did I tell you I worked for two years on the site of the apartment block where Carol Vorderman and Frank Skinner now own flats? That's about the extent of my Civil Service-related gossip.
I understood, believed and practised the Northcote-Trevelyan (and their successors) philosophy of Civil Service impartiality because it was fair and made sense. The Civil Service was like cricket umpires, there to make government run effectively whichever party was in power for the fun of the game. And just as cricket and sport in general has become more "professional" ie nastier in recent years, so politics and government has also. When once a batsman would walk before waiting for the umpire's finger, today ministers and whips use every trick of the Nixon-Stalin-Macchiavelli manual to stay in (money) power at the expense of the opposition. Special Advisers have mushroomed during the NuLabour years and the Government Information Service has become horrifyingly politicised (eg Campbell's souped-up 45 minute Iraq dossier and Tom Kelly " Dr David Kelly was a Walter Mitty character"). The rules of the game have changed. Play cricket if you pad up and walk out to the crease but politics a la Brown has become seal clubbing. And so when EURefendum writes this Colonel Blimpish tosh I have to say, look the battle being fought in Parliament is too important and too vital for the old, superseded rules to apply. If Brown wins again then the European/Global project will be unstoppable without bloody and protracted civil war which nobody wants. If the Tories form the next government the immediate situation and policies might not be to the purist tastes of Dr Richard North and Peter Hitchens, for example, but they will be a step in the other direction or even just a slowing of the rate of change. And that can be built on. But petulantly saying that because a particular party is not 100% to your taste it is wrong is like refusing to catch a bus because it doesn't drop you at your door. The only form of politics where you get all you want when you want it is dictatorship.
And so in this radically different and dangerous world the certainties of yesteryear no longer apply. I would not encourage any civil servants to break their position of trust and advise the raising of any concerns with management with trade union support to resolve matters but if their consciences preclude alternative actions then, in the present circumstances, leaking material embarrassing to Labour is acceptable. Leaking material prejudicial to national security (national interest has been confused with party interest) is a different matter. Remember, Labour politicised the Civil Service with SpAds and politically acceptable senior civil servants, so they are only getting a bit back of what they dished out. If you take the EUReferendum point of view then you might agree that it was right for police in the Channel Islands to continue to work for the Nazi occupiers as the Germans became the governing authority when the islands were surrendered.
Sometimes desperate measures are needed in a fight for the survival of the independent English way of life and, being too young to have voted for or against membership of the EEC, EC or EU or whatever, we should all begin by renting the DVD of V for Vendetta, reading a biography of Ghandi and shouting "I'm mad as hell and I won't put up with this any more". England can mind its own business once again but the weapons and tactics to fight the peaceful war against those who wish to remove our special identity and turn us into identical global producers and consumers will require stronger stomachs to use them effectively. When the war for freedom is won then Northcote-Trevelyan can come back into the room.


Thud said...

I'm no fan of boy Cameron but would vote for him with enthusiasm....the conservative party may not be what we want it to be, but at least the rate of decline in Britain would be greatly slowed.If only to give us all a breather and time to take stock I would urge people to get rid of Brown and his demented band of 'change is good' unreformed class warriors.

TBRRob said...

Nicely put.

Gallimaufry said...

Many thanks.