The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.


Meet the Professor

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Straight from the "Yes Minister" manual.



In our
quest to find an MP who’ll support the Misrepresentation of the People Act we keep hearing the same old thing… “give us some examples”, “where are the examples ?”

They’re almost daily for Chrissakes !!! Here's one from the weekend's Sunday Times ...

"Gerry Sutcliffe, the prisons minister ordered his civil servants to draw up a secret list of “negative” officials suspected of being opposed to legislation. Sutcliffe also wanted a list of officials who could be trusted to act as “positive champions” for the plans to privatise the probation service and be used to persuade rebellious Labour MPs to change their minds and avert a Commons defeat.

The e-mail was sent by Rachel Howell, Sutcliffe’s private secretary, on February 1 to senior Home Office officials as he faced a backbench rebellion against the government’s Offender Management (OM) Bill. If it was defeated, it could have threatened Sutcliffe’s ministerial career.

Last week Sir Alistair Graham, the watchdog responsible for overseeing standards in public life, identified Tony Blair’s politicisation of the service as one of the seven “mortal sins” that had undermined public trust in government. Tomorrow, the Commons’ public administration committee will call on the government to introduce new laws to protect the impartiality of the civil service.

Critics say that the e-mail breaches the ministerial code of conduct which sets out that ministers “have a duty to uphold the political impartiality of the civil service”.

It states: “Civil servants should not be asked to engage in activities likely to call in question their political impartiality, or to give rise to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes.”

When first asked if Sutcliffe had instructed his private office to draw up a list of chief probation officers who supported and opposed the bill, the Home Office said: “It is utterly untrue that he instructed his office to do this.”

However, when confronted with the text of the leaked e-mail, Sutcliffe altered his position. A spokeswoman later said: “There is no question the minister acted improperly or sought to undermine the political impartiality of his private office . . . It is normal to identify those supporting voices for proposed legislation.”

So, initial response was to deny it ever happened. Then, when confronted with the evidence, they changed their tune to, "this is perfectly acceptable behaviour".
The full article’s here.

"Yes Minister" is available on DVD from the Parliamentary Bookshop at Portcullis House.

8 comments:

  1. Trouble is, is difficult to pinpoint who exactly lied right but I do agree that there has been a cover-up or someone has not told the whole truth... its a kind of collective lying by the Home Office (and not the first time I might add). Perhaps they should (collectively) think before they speak......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Vicky Pollard, Minister for Truth28 Mar 2007, 11:10:00

    But yeah, but no, we did say that's utterly untrue but no you see that's before we knew you had proof so yeah no. but yeah, but no, but yeah etc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's actually quite easy to tell when a Home Office official is lying - their lips move.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice to see they're not just lying but also breaching the Ministerial Code in the process and THEN denying they've breached the ministerial code.

    All in all, in a world of uncertainty, I find it quite comforting to know there are some reliable constants - lying politicians and the law of gravity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The email itself, according to the Times, read:

    "Gerry asked for a list ‘ of the Probation Chief Of? cers identifying the positive champions, more negative Chiefs and those who were fairly neutral as he was keen to use the ‘champions’ to speak to MPs... "

    Is it just me, or is it fairly obvious that any minister would want to identify possible supporters of a bill he was trying to pass? The Times’ supposition that naming the “negative” civil servants would damage their careers is groundless suspicion: it would simply be useful for the minister to know who not to approach.

    ReplyDelete
  6. extract from the Times28 Mar 2007, 18:11:00

    Last week Sir Alistair Graham, the watchdog responsible for overseeing standards in public life, identified Tony Blair’s politicisation of the service in The Sunday Times as one of the seven “mortal sins” that had undermined public trust in government. Tomorrow, the Commons’ public administration committee will call on the government to introduce new laws to protect the impartiality of the civil service.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Missing said, "Is it just me, or is it fairly obvious that any minister would want to identify possible supporters of a bill he was trying to pass? The Times’ supposition that naming the “negative” civil servants would damage their careers is groundless suspicion: it would simply be useful for the minister to know who not to approach"

    The civil service is supposed to be rigorously non-party political. It's there to administer the policies of the current government. There is just no way a minister should be asking civil servants where they stand on policy issues.

    ReplyDelete
  8. the truth is always in the knee-jerk reaction, the initial response.

    ReplyDelete