MoD must drop ‘Yes Minister’ approach to Afghanistan, say To

From The Times
June 12, 2010
MoD must drop ‘Yes Minister’ approach to Afghanistan, say Tory MPs

Deborah Haynes

Politicians accused the Ministry of Defence last night of failing to give them the full picture in briefings on military operations, such as the British deployment in Helmand, Afghanistan, and described the MoD’s relationship with Whitehall as “dysfunctional”. Adam Holloway, a Conservative MP and former member of the Defence Select Committee, said that generals and senior civil servants had not spoken with sufficient candour to the committee. He said: “It is very frustrating ... there is no doubt that the Defence Select Committee has been consistently dissembled to.”

His comments follow an investigation by The Times this week which revealed that the top brass ignored warnings that Britain was ill-prepared to send troops to Helmand and signed off a plan that was under-resourced and over-ambitious from the start. Other allegations included a “Yes, Minister” culture, in which military chiefs gave the advice they thought politicians wanted to hear.
"...military chiefs gave the advice they thought politicians wanted to hear."

Pensions, ermine and CBEs at stake. What could be more urgent?
Schools are being encouraged to become more independent and leave local authority control. We could give the forces the same option of independence from the MOD. :D
I think this is a shabby attack by the increasingly desperate.

The relationship was not dyfunctional until No10 tranformed its own role and emasculated the Departments. The were plenty of warnings about (as ackonwledged in the OP report), but they were ignored.

The last administration simply never learned to drive the old civil service machine, and it showed in all sorts of things, from poorly drafted laws to clashing admin (eg insisting CTC dealine fell at a busy time of year requiring additional staff, instead of using one of the quieter periods for existing staff), to stacking neutral public serviceposts with their own supporters (see NHS London where chair refuses to countenance policies other than his pet ones and has resigned).

Not saying CS is perfect/lovely, but it did a lot better before the attempt to politicize - something I hope is now in the dustbin along with big, totalitarian government.

But I wouldn't be in a hurry to praise the changes with expansion of number of academy schools, though. They're going from local control to Whitehall control. Fine for now, but what happens if we has a more controlling Govt again on future?
I do remember a clutch of senior officers from the MOD during the 1990s visiting our Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess to explain the reasoning behind 'Options for Change'. "It was because", they said, "Britain is a very poor country" that could no longer afford to sustain its force level". Of course, we were far too disciplined and polite to collapse in laughter at the absurdity of such a contention and did wonder whether they sincerely believed in what they were saying of whether they were simply repeating verbatim what some Treasury Civil Servant had told them.
I don't think the article meant "Yes, Minister" as in the classic TV programme. In that series, the CS always said "yes" to the Minister's plans and then ensured that "no" was the final outcome.

Recent "Yes, Minister" has been more along the lines - "Yes, I'm fully bent over the desk and ready for another shafting Minister".

Similar threads

New Posts

Latest Threads