Peter Hoskin

The slowdown in government

The slowdown in government
Text settings

It's no secret around Westminster that civil servants are giving up on the Labour government and are wait-wait-waiting for the Tories to shuffle into power.  But few articles have captured that process so well as Rachel Sylvester's column in the Times today, which contains this striking passage about the suspended animation along Whitehall:

"It is said that the Civil Service has the engine of a lawn mower and the brakes of a Rolls-Royce. And slowly but surely the government machine is coming to a halt. Contracts are delayed, decisions deferred, reviews welcomed. When Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, announced a U-turn on ID cards recently, he was only catching up with his civil servants. The Home Office had already delayed the contract to print the cards until October 2010, well after the election. At the Ministry of Defence, big procurement projects, including Trident, are on hold. Only departments that know their policies are likely to be adopted by the Tories, such as welfare and transport, press ahead at the normal speed."

A year or so ago, much of the political talk was about whether the Dear Leader could pull off another "Brown bounce," which would put Labour back within touching distance of Cameron & Co.  But as Brown's ability to control and implement policy dwindles, very few political types pay even lip service to the idea today.