Tories promise Cabinet government

Posted by Richard D North under Dare to be dull / The wisdom of crowds on 18 September 2008

D Cameron and G Brown both promised they would inaugurate a return to Cabinet government. In both cases, that was before they got the job. GB comprehensively dished his promise. DC has yet to be given a chance to come good. But here’s what Francis Maude, one of his most senior lieutenants, promised.

Here is Andrew Grice, political editor at the Independent on Sunday, in a piece entitled Cameron’s First Hundred Days (1 August 2008).

How would Mr Cameron run his government? “The Blair-Brown style is all about central control,” said Mr [Francis] Maude. “There would be a return to something much more like more conventional cabinet government, with a strong prime minister showing leadership and direction at the top.” He added: “To have a strong centre, you don’t need a prime minister’s department. What you need is a strong prime minister who sets direction clearly. David Cameron will be more trusting of his colleagues, with their departments being held accountable but not constantly being second-guessed and interfered with.”

“The Civil Service is extremely demoralised and fed up. It is not being treated with respect,” said Mr Maude. “Civil servants don’t mind if their advice is not taken – decisions are up to ministers. But there is real resentment that advice is not being sought.”

But preparations, however extensive, only get you so far. Mr Maude, a former minister, said: “In my experience, 75 per cent of what you do in government is not implementing your programme but dealing with events.”

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