Was Alan Milburn on to something? When he proposed slashing Whitehall by a quarter in his interview with me for this week’s magazine – on the grounds that you can only take bureaucrats’ power away if you send them away – I imagined he was just stirring things to be mischievous. But now Matthew Taylor, former No10 policy chief, has proposed slashing the number of ministers by a quarter and, as Three Line Whip reports, No10 has slapped him down: “The Prime Minister is quite happy with the number of ministers he has got in his Government”.
I’m with Milburn and Taylor. A Conservative government should ask itself searching questions about the need for a DBERR (as the DTI now calls itself), a culture department or an education bureaucracy to name but a few. The Blairites realise now that they fought the establishment – and the establishment won. The civil service vastly outnumber the handful of Blairite ministers. If David Cameron is serious about “a post-bureaucratic age” then a useful step should be to dispense with the bureaucrats.