Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is governing marriage between UK’s civil servants & politicians in deep trouble?

Prime Minister of UK David Cameron
BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron’s chief of strategy Steve Hilton, who is currently in America on a sabbatical, whipped up a controversy when he said “bureaucracy masters the politicians”. That’s not all. Hilton who was British PM’s former “blue skies thinker” also told a group of Stanford students that…
Prime Minister Cameron often disagreed with some government policies which he had learnt only from media! “The bureaucracy masters the politicians. I don’t mean that in a hostile way – it’s just a fact,” Hilton was quoted as saying first by London-based Sunday Times, and then other newspapers and BBC. Hilton is currently a lecturer and visiting scholar at Stanford. His last memo at Downing Street advocated severe cuts in the number of civil servants in UK.
This is what Hilton said, as quoted by Sunday Times: “Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the government is doing…And you think, 'Well, hang on a second – it’s not just that we didn't know it was happening, but we don't even agree with it!’ The Government can be doing things... and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?”
Hilton’s comment has already created a debate about uneasy relations that exist between bureaucrats and politicians in UK, and also in other parts of the world. British newspaper The Telegraph quoted constitutional historian Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield as saying: “It’s as bad as I’ve ever known it. The ‘governing marriage’ between the Civil Service and the politicians is in real trouble.”
In fact, a former Home Office minister Nick Herbert embarked on a research project looking at how to improve relations between bureaucrats and ministers. It was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who previously described the civil service as “hopelessly bureaucratic” and “no longer fit for purpose”.

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