Civil service must take the blame

DURING the entire 13 years of the Labour government, there was no project that ended in such abject failure as the proposed regional fire control centres across the country.

This abortive project which was mismanaged from day one has cost British taxpayers half a billion pounds – and nobody has been sacked for this monumental incompetance.

Of course it was Labour ministers who were politically responsible for the decisions surrounding the fire control fiasco and they are not in their jobs any longer.

And we have a principle in this country that when things like this go belly-up, it is the ministers who take the blame.

Had Labour still been in power and had the same ministers been in place, I would have expected them to resign over this.

But should the blame stop there? Shouldn’t the civil servants who were involved in the detailed work associated with this fiasco be shown the boot?

I don’t believe that the ministers took their decisions on a technical issue like this with very strong “advice” from their permanent staff.

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The British civil service, those working in Whitehall departments, are brilliant at taking high salaries and deflecting any blame from any decisions to someone else.

In fact the expression “civil servant” is probably the greatest misnomer in the English language.

Most of those you find in Whitehall have an air of superiority that is far removed from that of a servant and they look down on mere mortals in an very uncivil manner!

The civil service is a juggernaut. Believe me Sir Humphrey and all his minnions really exist.

Civil servants know better than anyone else. If the FBU, senior fire officers, and councillors on the ground don’t believe what they’re saying about fire control rooms then tough. How could mere experts know more about a subject that government-annointed civil servants?

We see this kind of attitude surrounding just about every major government project – and until Whitehall realises we’re not still living in the 1950s nothing will change.