» Thursday, December 9, 2004

Lord Butler

Asked what the Prime Minister thought of Lord Butler’s comments that the Prime Minister had a very bad style of Government that was only interested in central control of headlines and that had produced a lot of extremely bad Bills the PMOS said that he did not do book reviews or magazine reviews or assist in magazine sales. He would leave other people to do that. He would point out however that following the Sir Peter Gershwin Review in 2004 Spending Review there was a very clear efficiency programme being carried out within the Civil Service. Civil Service numbers were actually lower than they were 10 years ago. The Prime Minister firmly stood by decisions such as making the Bank of England independent. Equally he stood by the movement of more staff within the civil service to the frontline. In terms of the Prime Minister’s style of government what the Prime Minister and Government should be judged on was the results it had achieved across a wide range of subjects. Asked what had happened in the Prime Minister’s Office since the Butler Report’s complaint about the so called "sofa" style of Government and insufficient note taking the PMOS said that in terms of the way in which meetings were recorded Lord Butler’s recommendations had been taken on board.

Asked further about the style of Government and in response to the suggestion that the nature of Cabinet increasingly was to report back and to get the background to decisions and whether decisions were actually taken by Cabinet the PMOS said that it depended on the issue. In terms of important issues where there was a clear debate they were discussed and a consensus was reached. But it depended on the nature of the subject. You could not in Government take every decision in Cabinet. That just was not realistic. It was demeaning to the policy process to suggest that the discussion had to take place at the point of decision. That demeaned the importance of discussions early on in the process. You saw that week in week out in Cabinet on a whole series of subjects. We could not have had the 5-year plans programme without having had really good discussions at Cabinet about relative priorities and how Government moved things forward. Therefore what you in fact had was a much deeper process of discussion, rather than just facing people with decisions at the last minute and as such that lead to better Government.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Well now we have another person who agrees that TB hasn’t got the reasoning skills to manage a piss up in a brewery let alone run a Country.

    How long can this stupid evil man survive this type of criticism?

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 9 Dec 2004 on 4:42 pm | Link
  2. Well forever – he just "won’t accept" the criticism. As always.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 10 Dec 2004 on 12:30 am | Link
  3. Government ministers who steal, fiddle their expenses, defraud the public purse etc should pay the money back AND BE SACKED AND BE PROSECUTED – just like ordinary people are.


    Comment by Mr Pooter — 11 Dec 2004 on 4:06 pm | Link
  4. Goodness me. Politicians are stupid, evil, liars, thieves and crooks, eh? Doesn’t say much for the voters that elected them.


    Tired of windy rhetoric

    Comment by Marek Ostrowski — 13 Dec 2004 on 12:15 pm | Link
  5. I was not aware that more than one unmarried politician had made a claim for travel expenses for another person’s spouse by confusing the adulterous partner as their own spouse. Perhaps you might enlighten us as to who else has made such ‘honest mistakes’.

    You might also like to advise us as to how claiming expenses to which one is patently NOT entitled is anything other than ..
    a) dishonest
    b) intentional, not a mistake and
    c) not theft. (appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving them of it).

    The point is, surely, that one bad apple spoils the box. If it is now to be generally accepted that one can claim expenses willy nilly as long as one is not caught out – and if one is all one has to do is to repay the money – then a whole lot of others might well follow the same practice. In that case your own windy rhetoric would be right – why vote for people who tolerate such practices.

    One of the Guiness defendants produced the same excuse – and got 5 years for his honest mistake. Many others have been jailed and lost their jobs for tha same offence. Why is the bunny boiler any different?

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 13 Dec 2004 on 5:56 pm | Link
  6. I’m afraid we’ve taken the very rare step of taking down a comment here. It isn’t really a legal thing, so much as a desire to keep people from turning this useful little site into a raging torrent of anger. We know you feel passionately about these issues, but please try to express yourself in a way which you’d be happy with other people directing at you, if they disagreed with your opinions or actions.

    Comment by mySociety — 14 Dec 2004 on 10:39 am | Link
  7. MySociety; I don’t really see the issue. What exactly is it you are complaining about?

    Surely the whole idea of sites like this is so that people can have their say – if their mode of expression differs from your own then that’s life. Personally I can’t see anything which is necessarily offensive; if however there is something offensive, it still pales into insignificance compared to the smells coming from the higher echelons of government in recent times.

    If it is Mr Pooters "bunny boiler" you are referring to, I’m sure Blunkett would prefer that to lying hypocritical bigot – which is what he actually is.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 14 Dec 2004 on 1:28 pm | Link
  8. As my last post is still there one can only hope and imagine that the offending item came later.

    However, I should not have muddled the issue of the expenses with the private, personal traumas which are peripheral to the serious matters of governance and nothing to do with me. I apologise and withdraw the comment.

    My concern remains: that the expenses issue is properly and independently investigated as it would be if the person involved were any other citizen in a similar situation.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 14 Dec 2004 on 3:55 pm | Link
  9. Speaking unofficially, and not for mySociety: we were warned that an allegation made in the comment was likely to be defamatory; and had we left it up we could be have been liable should legal action have been taken. This is not casual censorship of opinions we do not like, but rather forced on us by the nature of English law. We can’t fight others’ battles for them, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 14 Dec 2004 on 5:32 pm | Link

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