Response to feedback: David Cameron’s attack on the civil service: ill-advised and not strategic

I have received many positive messages in support of the comments in this blog (and the original blog on Cornerstone Global Associates website – from serving civil servants. Several people have stressed how much this Government is very much missing an opportunity in engaging more constructively with its own civil service. One person said, “We have to live with the injury that is being inflicted on the public sector, but do we also have to put up with the insult?”

What critical messages I have received on my blog urge us all to read the speech itself, which is on the Conservative Party website. But this is my point: the speech was spun and/or interpreted as a very strong attack on the civil service, and one need only to skim the headlines of three newspapers- The Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mail- to find confirmation that whatever the intention of the “enemies of enterprise” speech, it was received as an attack on the civil service. 

Earlier blog (dated 8th March, 2011):

David Cameron’s speech was ill-advised, and is not consistent with what he is trying to achieve long-term. If he and his advisers are not careful, not only do they risk turning a hard-hit civil service into a demoralised one, but the Coalition Government sends very contradictory signals about how David Cameron’s wider vision of a Big Society is to be achieved.
The State can be reduced, but not disabled. This cannot be in anybody’s interests. Recent media coverage of the PM’s speech to the Conservatives also smacks of the kind of spin-doctoring that was associated with the last government, and proved so damaging to two Prime Ministers.  Leaders do not need to be their own attack-dogs – Cameron needs allies and to build bridges, and not just with his right-wing. He is an asset to the Conservative Party because he has broad appeal – this kind of speech only narrows his appeal, and I think goes against his character. If they are issues with the civil service, he should get on and fix them: he is, after all, the man in charge. Watch out for a better thought-out speech when he next comes to speak to civil servants! 
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One Response to Response to feedback: David Cameron’s attack on the civil service: ill-advised and not strategic

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lucian, I agree 100%. The Civil Service is SUCH an asset to the country, and was even more so until Mrs Thatcher’s ill-judged and badly advised interference. I was teaching negotiation on the Top Management Programme when the internal competition policy was introduced, so, sadly, I had to withdraw. Cooperation among the civil servants was the oil that speeded up so much of the more important work.It was one of my greatest pleasures to spend three days with these incredibly bright, and in the main, highly principled leaders. I felt the country was in good hands.David Cameron is becoming a worry. First, the bellicose response to Libya, which is right out of the Thatcher handbook; and now this. As a LibDemmer I now have ensure there is daylight between him and Nick.

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