Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Reader’s comment: May’s a frustrated civil servant


In response to Bruce Newsome: Britain is now ruled by civil servants,

Robert wrote:

I am reminded of something David Cameron’s former adviser Steve Hilton said when recounting some advice he got from Tony Blair.

Tony Blair said of Whitehall civil servants: ‘You cannot underestimate how much they believe it’s their job to actually run the country
and to resist the changes put forward by people they dismiss as “here today, gone tomorrow” politicians. They genuinely see themselves as the true guardians of the national interest and think that their job is simply to wear you down and wait you out.’

I think it is fair to say that May is on the side of these bureaucrats rather than the electorate who pay their wages and hers. It’s not difficult to imagine that, with her autocratic, negative, pettifogging, secretive and EU-worshipping outlook, she possibly wishes she’d entered the civil service instead of politics. She is simply not an inspirational leader of people in the manner a political leader has to be. Great political leaders seek approval first and foremost from the people they serve, not from the civil servants who serve them.

As a great leader – a leader who had the measure of the general mediocrity and negativity of the civil servants serving her – Margaret Thatcher once said:

‘I was never accused of thinking like a civil servant. They had to think like me. I was sometimes amused to detect ill-concealed expressions of disapproval on the faces of civil servants under the veneer of official politeness.’ (The Downing Street Years)

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