Labour 'cowardly' on Whitehall reform
Thursday September 2, 2004
Labour has failed to tackle Whitehall's "culture of amateurism", says a leading consultant with close family connections to the Blair cabinet and top reaches of the civil service.
Ed Straw, a partner in PriceWaterhouseCoopers, said Labour had been scared off reform by the fear that it would bring accusations of politicising the civil service.
It had allowed the senior civil service to form "powerful barriers to change".
Mr Straw is the brother of the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, whose wife, Alice Perkins, one rung below the top civil service rank in the Cabinet Office, is responsible for civil service personnel policies.
Ed Straw maintained that the £21bn efficiency review ordered by Gordon Brown would not get to grips with how the civil service was run.
Writing in PUBLIC, the Guardian's new monthly magazine for public-sector executives, Mr Straw said Blairite reforms had failed to address fundamental questions about Whitehall.
"The result is that a system at the apex of our national life, wielding huge influence over the way we spend public money, taking decisions over war and national security, passing laws and regulating the behaviour of millions, retains the same approach as a century ago."