Tag Archives: Civil Service


‘I would suggest that divine discontent is a fitting term regarding the affect this website has on those that view it’.

This remark, Jon’s first at a meeting called by the Minister responsible for digital media and communications, prompted what could only be described as a moment’s pregnant silence. Jon was used to his remarks meeting with a hostile reception but he wasn’t prepared for what happened next. The meeting erupted into a chaos of quips between the other delegates regarding the website and a divine purpose. Jon sat there somewhat bemused that his attempt to bring some degree of clarity to the meeting should be so ridiculed. The other delegates clearly had no comprehension of the website’s intent. They assumed that they could break the code currently making any recording of the site contents impossible. That this would lead them to the source of the site and its intent. Read more of this post

Lessons in Mandarin

Very occasionally as a Civil Servant I was required to provide a technical contribution to Parliamentary Questions (PQs), at a time when PQs really did allow Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account. The only role my contribution had to a PQ was to complement the response being prepared by a Mandarin. Anything that I may have written would have been lost in the revisions they underwent before reaching the likes of a Bernard Woolley or a Sir Humphrey Appelby. I was reminded of this when I revisited an old paper on Civil Service Mandarin. Read more of this post

A Socialist Thatcherite?

I would hesitate to describe myself as pragmatic during my time spent in the Civil Service.  In its archaic use (pragmatic – active in an officious or meddlesome way) it fits too well with my perception of the Civil Service. I would often describe myself to my colleagues as a ‘Socialist Thatcherite‘. My early childhood during WWII made me ‘a socialist sympathiser’ and in this I would claim a philosophy of pragmatism.  While ‘Socialist Thatcherite’ fits well into the category of an oxymoron, my colleagues, who for the most part were Tory supporters (in varying degrees) could well be described as ‘Thatcherite Socialists’.  They were quite happy for the reforms advocated by Thatcher to be implemented elsewhere, but not in the Civil Service sector served by them. Public money was perceived as being a horn of plenty but they soon found out that Thatcher was no Abundantia.  She in turn was to find out that the Civil Service was conservative only with a small ‘c’. Read more of this post

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