Election reflections

This is one of perhaps several posts looking back at the election. There is no point in this post going over the fine detail of the election win as umpteen media reports have done just that. Here we focus on other things, we might call it the back story. First the fact that the 2016 Brexit referendum changed so much of UK politics but so few people could face up to this. The referendum was direct democracy, the voter thus had the power. This upset the likes of Ken Clarke who was arrogant enough to declare the result, 'a mere opinion poll'. Thus began the period 2017 to 2019 when the so called rebels did all they could to overturn the 2016 referendum result. This was the period when the then PM, Theresa May, used the civil service to replace cabinet government. She may have thought this would be a benefit to the UK, however, it showed up many a weakness in their abilities. Remember the referendum was the largest political event in the UK since WW2. Cameron was forced to offer the referendum as the deal his civil servants had brought back from Brussels was so universally mocked and rejected for being inadequate. He went ahead with a referendum only because he was sure he could win it for Remain. With him all the way on this was the civil service. Respected journalist Charles Moore has said -

'I suppose I know several scores of existing and former civil servants and diplomats quite well, some very well. Among them, I have come across three or four who are pro-Brexit, quite a large minority whose views are genuinely unidentifiable, and dozens and dozens who are anti-Brexit, some passionately so. One told me, with burning anger and as if this were the knock-down argument, that if we Brexited, there would be fewer dinner invitations in Washington DC for British diplomats. Pro-EU views are natural among the senior official classes, because the EU form of government is bureaucratic rather than democratic, and therefore seems more rational to the official mind; but in such volume they undoubtedly add up to a bias.'

Suella Braverman MP for Fareham and prominent member of the ERG has said of civil servants -

'the failure of accountability to politicians was astonishing. Civil Servants would routinely return from Brussels with the fruits of their endeavours, often having strayed beyond Cabinet mandates or setting policy decisions in legally binding text before Ministers had even discussed them. I argued with officials about including a ‘conditionality clause’- which would make the payment of the £39bn contingent on a binding future trade agreement and which would give us some security in the event of a failure of talks in the future. But no insurance policy was forthcoming. The general approach always seemed to be: Don’t upset Brussels.'

Now we can see why, on the very long list of things to do, our PM has reform of the civil service. This is essential if the public is to see what it has voted for becoming law rather than ignored.