Many moons ago, my boss chirruped that an old mucker of his had become the Prime Minister’s press secretary. Plain old Gus O’Donnell was a bright chap well versed in finance and had spent the preceding year in a similar role for the Chancellor: given the holder of those two great offices of State shared numerical identity in the form of John Major, that’s not so surprising.
Weaving himself through the highest echelons of power, his tenure as Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to the end of 2011 was not to be the end of his political prowess and he now sits in the Lords as a Cross-bencher.
To say he knows a thing or two about how Westminster functions would be uncontroversial.
On the radio this week in the context of Brexit’s impasse, Baron O’Donnell said “What the Civil Service is after is direction”. [BBC R4 PM 12.iii.19 @ 17.24]
And there we have it.
While you may also have steam of frustration and tears of exhaustion pouring out of you, maybe you also wondered how a once finely-ordered set of isles had imploded into a cess-pool of its own creation?
Seemingly, it lies in virtue of the Government and Civil Service being in a tug-of-war. [After Brexeat, what next?]
Where does one even begin with this vacuous void? Perhaps with a spot of emotional intelligence-gathering?
© The Guardian photo credited to Bettman/Corbis Taken in 1942 after relentless bombing which, miraculously, missed St Paul’s
It’s hard to explain to European friends the how and why of division cleaving asunder convention. Sober reflection our parent of parliaments traditionally promotes appears to have evaporated in the heat of wild anxiety. (Julian of Norwich was quoted on the radio earlier: she who tends to be wheeled out, alas, when hopelessness hoves over the horizon.)
This evening’s Parliamentary vote on the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, designed to protect the Irish border, has the potential to explode the Referendum’s result.
Who knew the bloated tedium that would result from David Cameron’s attempt to make his mark? Who appreciated the fickleness of an ill-informed electorate? The vacuity of detail in the run-up to that June 2016 decision now appears so frantically obvious it’s hard to grasp how we didn’t ask more pertinent questions.
Tiens: hindsight, huh?
Setting aside the partisan nature of war, it would be interesting to listen to those who experienced the Blitz comment on the politics [poliblitz seems more accurate] of these self-immolating days. Would they see beyond the rats-in-a-sack spectacle or sit in expectation of the monumental fall-out?