No, don\’t call me cynical here

The head of the civil service has ordered an inquiry into the government\’s localism reforms amid growing concerns that its \”big society\” plans risk eroding the basic democratic principles of transparency and ministerial accountability, the Guardian has learned.

There are fears by those at the top of Whitehall that parliament\’s fundamental right to hold the government to account for its actions is being tested by the scale of the coalition\’s ambitions to devolve power from the centre to local communities and outsource services to charities and the private sector.

Gus O\’Donnell, the head of the civil service, has asked a senior colleague to investigate the democratic impact of the government\’s localism bill, which is intended to end Whitehall\’s domination of the political system and devolve power to local people.

Sir Bob Kerslake, the permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, will investigate the \”accountabilities issues\” being thrown up by the plans. O\’Donnell told MPs this week that the issue was \”absolutely crucial\” to the project\’s success.

No, really, don\’t call me a cynic.

Now, think back to what we know about bureaucracies and bureaucrats, from Parkinson through Peters to Buchanan and Tullock. The motivating aim is not to actually achieve something, reach a goal, other than the continued existence of said bureaucracy.

So if someone comes along and says, well chaps, we\’re simply not going to need you to deal with these issues and problems over here, what will be the instinctive reaction of the chaps?

Quite. But you can\’t not have the bureaucracy: doesn\’t matter the reason why not, you just can\’t.

And a reason will be found.

No, I\’m not a cynic. Rather, a realist.

3 thoughts on “No, don\’t call me cynical here”

  1. If accountability is made so much better by centralisation, why don’t we hand over more power to Brussels? I’m sure the civil servants there will be more than happy to tell the civil servants in whitehall how much beyer this will be.

  2. I think a lengthy period of introspection on the power relationship implicit in the phrase ‘civil servant’ would do ‘Gus’ and ‘Bob’ a power of good (and since when did Sir Humphrey become Humph? Augustine and Robert, please, for fuck’s sake.)

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