PS: and what’s all that got to do with Whitehall?


Dear PM,

I am writing to you with some concern because of the workload fall-out from last week’s “events”. As you know, we in Whitehall are taking our fair share of the burden in reducing the deficit and there is to be a significant reduction in the number of senior staff in Whitehall departments.

Over at Justice, and the Home Office, a whole new swathe of policy and administrative work has just arisen – Public Inquiries don’t organise themselves you know. Between the task of setting them up, arranging for a suitable Judge and staff, and writing their terms of reference to ensure an efficacious outcome, there is a lot to be done. And then of course the Government has to prepare its own submissions and policy, which it appears will not be easy in the context of the present stage of the Coalition.

The Home Office, in liaison with Justice and the Mayor of London, also has the delicate matter of the investigation into police corruption in the Met, and possibly other forces. This is, as they say colloquially, is a can of worms.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has its own problems – not least the 150,000 submissions to the review of the BSkyB matter to plough through.

And DCMS also has the thorny issue of Press Regulation to cope with – what, if anything, can be done to reform the PCC. Do we go for the ‘Sellafield Option’ and get them to close down and re-open, fundamentally unchanged, under another name? Or do we really have to do something different?

And finally of course there is, ahem, your own position in all this and the subsequent demands it is putting on the Downing St operation. There is a very real danger of overload and of taking our eye of several other important balls.

I should also, I suppose, mention my somewhat tricky position. I did, as you now know, advise your predecessor as PM that it would be a mistake to open an inquiry into these matters just before the last General Election. Some unfair people are saying this compromises my position in all this.

The purpose of this memo is just to alert you to these issues.

Yours, as ever,

G O’D

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About Prof. Colin Talbot

Professor of Government (Emeritus). Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, England.
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