Neither civil nor servile...?

We have a well practised and costly civil service, so let it serve! And be civil.

The UK has a vast and very well paid civil service to help politicians organise and administer all aspects of government. Although notionally politically neutral, and intended to help elected politicians deliver the Will of The Electorate - since Tony Blair's administration of 1997 it has been increasingly inclined to try and impose the ideas of activists within its ranks. And frankly get in the way and obstruct the will of the people. The masterclass TV series on this subject was "Yes Minister" and remains relevant in 2024. You really must watch it! There are many online resources describing how the civil service should operate (linked below) - but it seems to have lost the memo about neutrality - especially when the Cabinet Secretary, Sue Gray, jumped ship to work for the leader of the opposition. Two-tier policing is likewise an aberration of a political decision made by public servants. WOTE wil review the way in which public servants can exploit insider knowledge and influence during and after their "service"

Main functions of government

Bunting flags

Ensure the daily business of government continues when politicians are absent off

There are many examples of administrations that continue to function when the politicians cannot agree on forming a government - or simply are on "recess". In many cases, they seem to manage better than when politicians are present. 

We should study this and consider how many politicians are actually required for efficient government.

Maybe one King and one elected PM is all that we need? We surely do not need 650 MPs and a vast grace and favour House of Lords.

Policy Development Advisory

Policy Development Advisory

Politicians may start with the best intentions and slogans, but they will quickly run into the limitations of the vast legal precedent the UK has accumulated - and the legions of the legal profession who will be determined to preserve their stipends and sinecures.

WOTE intends to reduce and streamline all aspects of government and the attendant legal process - this type of project is ideally suited to Artificial Intelligence. It really could all be done in less than year, although no one is going to voluntarily withdraw their snout from that trough. There will be squealing!

Nothing gets done without YOUR money

Nothing gets done without YOUR money

Our "uniparty" politics have progressively passed on responsibilities for matters such as inflation to the Bank of England. And the Political decisions have been made are subject the "Office of Budget responsibility"  ... do MPs have anything to do but collect stipends and fiddle their expenses? 

Ofcom has been given the job of media regulation as part of the massive DCMS portfolio. The various Minister involved has claimed they have no ability to influence or intervene as the BBC continues to pass the buck on the last of its broadcast responsibilities such as Freeview. 

The really big spenders are health and defence, and both are in dire need of a rethink and efficiency makeover by professional managers, not vote trading politicians.  Transport and energy infrastructure planning is subject to dubious Net Zero assumptions that need to properly and objectively assessed .

Bigger pictures

Let's start to consider the range of challenges facing any UK government - and put them in perspective.

Defence of the country and its people is the prime responsibility of government. So when you survey the armada of small boats landing unchallenged on our beaches, you will appreciate there is work to do.

There is an argument that a matter such as defence is very much the speciality of the professional military. However, recent experience is that the "global military industrial complex" does not have the best interests of any one nation at heart, and generally seeks to maximize corporate revenue... The industry is somewhat awkwardly full of retired service generals, seeking out troughs into which to plunge eager snouts, with the homing instincts of pigs after truffles.

The decision made at the death of the last Labour government to build two massive aircraft carriers in the constituency of prime minister Gordon Brown doesn't look so smart in the light of developments which should have been anticipated, such as cheap killer drones. Maybe a fleet of cheap channel patrol craft to scoop up the rubber dinghies and return them to France would have been a better use of £20+bn

The UK's professional armed forces have punched above their weight for centuries, Henry VIII founded the Royal Navy and set out to rule the waves - which laid the foundations for Queen Elizabeth 1st to encouraged British adventurers to explore the New World and establish foundations for a British Empire. 

Yes, there will be arguments about the exploitation and tactics that brought civilization and rule of law throughout the development of the industrial revolution. 

Yes, there was little concern for health, safety and welfare at the time. But context is everything - and Britain was toe to toe with France (especially) and other European nations in a battle for global domination - and thanks to the Royal Navy, Britain prevailed and ruled the waves. And create wealth that was  channelled into worthy causes.

More recently, James Bond (a naval commander) has usefully projected an image of competence that still delivers valuable "soft" influence (and product placement opportunities!)

We emerged from WW2 as the leading innovator of military and civil jet aircraft technology - although our politicians and bean counters managed to lose out to the USA in several markets by failing to organise the funding of the industries that US entrepreneurs were ready and able to do, the UK aerospace industry still had a 17% market hare in 2020.

Traditionally, British politicians have a very modest awareness of science or engineering - for most of the last century UK politicians simply did not understand the crucial role of fast evolving technology and innovation in modern industrial societies, and did far more harm than good with their clumsy interventions.

The UK led nuclear research and development until our politicians once again failed our innovators, and the deployment ceased in the 1970s when North Sea gas was cheap and plentiful. Meanwhile, France has prospered from the deployment of nuclear power and is selling technology to the UK - UK political indecision has seen to it that the only UK developer is Rolls-Royce with small reactors designed for ships and subs.

Clive Sinclair led innovation in the home computer industry in the 8Os with the ZX and Spectrum, but once again we let the US take over. The BBC micro funded by the licence payer promised much but failed the commercial reality test, although the core technology of the ARM processor is now ubiquitous in billions of high-tech, devices following the sale of the company to overseas investors. Amstrad owed its success to its all-in-one bundle approach including monitor, and a much lower failure rate which gave it retailer appeal. But Amstrad exited the computer industry before it melted down, and shifted into satellite TV - eventually selling out to Sky. No direct political involvement at all - purely commercial. Lord Sugar is worth £1bn and fronts the most popular reality TV show and UK TV.

One area of technology in which we failed miserably to lead was the national phone network. And here the UK managed to cling onto ownership until it became irrelevant!

The UK telephone system was adequate, but built on low-tech and electromechanical, but as a "strategic" asset it was very much under the control of politicians, and a minister known quaintly as the "Postmaster General", somehow got the job of running the show- and also broadcasting. (Yes, the UK also once innovated and led the world in postal service development since 1517.)

The cosy arrangements between the handful of companies providing the exchange and premises equipment amounted to a virtual monopoly. The result was typical of a nationalised industry - unimaginative and unambitious products, and lazy businesses that eschewed innovation. But from the 1960s,  transistors were enabling migration from traditional mechanical to electronic circuit switching. GEC Marconi's proprietary system was wiped out quite suddenly by Cisco which adopted the new open standards of the internet protocols.

The overall lesson to learn is that the go-getting story of the innovative Victorian Britain created the vast manufacturing industries that powered the British Empire had little to with political intervention and control.

The ultimate take away remains that no one spends money more wisely than those that earned it in the first place.

Watch this space

Let them know what you really think...

None of the above?

The traditional protest vote when all the options, candidates and choices just don't appeal, is to tick the box marked "none of above". But Politicians carefully afford offering this choice, since they know very well it will be used by exasperated voters to embarrass them. Maybe that's a good reason to insist that it goes on all ballots in future? aims to provide efficient and common sense government without the millstone of dogmatic politics