"Yes, Minister" anyone?
I have to say that I don't really have a problem with this. I'm no fan of Mr Tax-and-Spend by any means, but he is the elected official, whereas the Civil Servants are there to serve the politicians, who in turn serve us . Thatcher did her own thing (eg ending the GLC - the first her Cabinet heard about it was when she announced it in Parliament), as did Blair (eg announcing levels of health spending without even consulting - ironically - Brown) etc. It sounds like a bit of whingeing from a long-term Civil Servant who didn't like it when he couldn't have his own way.Chancellor Gordon Brown's Treasury operates with "Stalinist ruthlessness", treating colleagues with contempt, the ex-head of the civil service has said.
Lord Turnbull, who was also Mr Brown's permanent secretary for four years, said the chancellor would not allow serious discussion about priorities.
Mr Brown had a "very cynical view of mankind and his colleagues", he added.
But minister Harriet Harman backed Mr Brown, saying: "Not all civil servants admire strong political leadership."
"But if you want to change things for the better you need strong political leadership."
She added, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "He is demanding of his colleagues, but he is demanding of himself because he wants to change things for the better."
Lord Turnbull's comments, unprecedentedly outspoken for such a senior civil servant, came in an interview with the Financial Times the day before what is expected to be Mr Brown's final Budget before he succeeds Tony Blair as prime minister.
The Treasury has refused to comment on the Financial Times interview.
In the interview Lord Turnbull said of Mr Brown's relationship with his colleagues: "He cannot allow them any serious discussion about priorities. His view is that it is just not worth it and 'they will get what I decide'.
"And that is a very insulting process."
He said this strategy had enhanced Treasury control but came "at the expense of any government cohesion and any assessment of strategy".
Lord Turnbull added: "You can choose whether you are impressed or depressed by that, but you cannot help admire the sheer Stalinist ruthlessness of it all."
However, he praised Mr Brown for his move to allow the Bank of England to be independent.
He added that what surprised him about the Treasury was "the more or less complete contempt with which other colleagues are held".
Departments were told only at the last minute what their Budget settlement would be, he added, claiming the man who expected to be the next prime minister used denial of information as an "instrument of power".
"Yes, Minister" anyone?