Tag Archives: Boris

Elective dictatorship

You may hope – with Trump on his way out – that his UK protégé may have given up the tricks of the Trump playbook. However, take a look behind the Brexit and Covid headlines this week, and you will get a glimpse of some devious destruction of our constitutional conventions.

In his Dimbleby Lecture of October 1976 former Lord Chancellor Viscount Hailsham – a true Tory if ever there was one – warned against Britain’s slide towards “elective dictatorship”.

With the recent publication of a draft Bill to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, his illustration of the power which then …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Scots need hope for a progressive United Kingdom

Boris Johnson has clearly demonstrated this week that he is a severe threat to Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom. Liberal Democrats need to consider any strategy which can give Scots a vision of a progressive United Kingdom freed from Boris Johnson’s “leadership”.

This is a speech I intended to deliver at Scottish conference last month, and I dearly hope this course can be seriously considered and deployed in good time to positively affect our performance in elections next May.

“I am deeply worried about Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. I see polls showing support for Independence at 58%. I see within those polls that younger generations support Independence at a rate close to 4 to 1.

Posted in Op-eds and Speeches | Also tagged , , and | 34 Comments

The ethos of the service

My late father was at the opposite end of the Civil Service hierarchy to Sir Mark Sedwell. He never rose above the humble rank of Clerical Officer. However, one of his claims to fame was being (as a “Paper Keeper”) one of a small team of a dozen or so in 1940s Newcastle, who in the early stages of the implementation of the Beveridge Report started the Central Office of what became the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance – always known on Tyneside simply as “the Ministry”. This went through various mutations (DHSS, etc.).

A phrase which my father explained to me at a tender age was “the ethos of the service”. It affected the way he did his job in the office including, for example, how you dealt fairly with members of the public however difficult they might be, or how much effort was required to ensure that traveller family got their payments despite unpredictable movements. It also occasionally found its way home. If there were amendments to regulations that needed inserting (a laborious scissors and paste job), or if there was a fraud case (literally tied up with red tape!) that needed to be dealt with very urgently, he was liable to stuff the papers into his saddlebag before cycling home for tea. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments
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