In the past few days, commentators with time to fill have turned to people like Lord Butler to tell us what the civil service are doing. And this morning, another voice told us that the civil service will switch effortlessly to support the new coalition. They are apolitical. The in-coming government should trust them.
I always find this amusing. The civil service is once again proud of its ‘moral flexibility’. And it is at the same time blameless. All the errors of the past (in economic, foreign and domestic policy) are now on the shoulders of the out-going government. Nobody asks whether the quality of advice was suspect. Indeed, the slate is wiped clean and their anonymity is assured under the conventions of Whitehall. Maybe the ‘new’ politics we are promised by Clegg (and, to be fair, we are already seeing it in the shape of a coalition) will shake-up this cosy, moribund world.