David Blackburn

The vanity appointments

The vanity appointments
Text settings

If this is what bespoke PR produces, save your money. The Standard alleges that Number 10 has hired 26 ‘civil servants’. These latter-day Sir Humphreys include: a photographer, a stylist, a PR consultant to run the PM’s personal website, a diary keeper for Sam Cam and another addition to the Behavioural Insight Team at the Cabinet Office.

Now, I like a bit of behavioural insight as much as the next man. But most, if not all, of these recruits have worked together in CCHQ for years: how much more insight can they glean in their new surroundings? Open up the field, many say, which poses another problem because it may transpire that these positions were not advertised.

As Labour points out, this looks like jobs for the boys and girls, whilst experienced civil servants are being forced into early retirement. Number 10 is, as Ben Brogan notes, short-staffed, but DC/NC action shots will not improve industrial relations, boost trade or aid recovery.

The government should be wary of its own hypocrisy in this austere age, because these revelations show politicians indulging their most vacuous foible – petty vanity at your expense. Final accountability lies at the ballot box, and 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is a strong mantra among the disaffected.