Exclusive: Whitehall prepares for a new cull

17 August 2015 15:09

Government departments have started to prepare their staff for job losses ahead of this autumn’s spending review, Coffee House has learned. George Osborne wants ministers to cut as much as… Continue reading

Francis Maude is trying to undo some of the gumming up of Whitehall. Picture: Getty

One area where Labour and the Tories have started agreeing

11 February 2015 19:31

With less than three months to go to the election, politics is pretty partisan at Westminster at the moment as PMQs today demonstrated. But there is one area where there… Continue reading

A petition is delivered to 10 Downing Street by members of the protest (Photo: Getty)

Freedom of speech is a sacred British value (and those who disagree can hop it)

9 February 2015 17:22

In the aftermath of last month’s Paris atrocities there was a remarkable piece in one of Denmark’s leading papers signed by more than a dozen prominent Danish Muslims.  It said… Continue reading


Does George Osborne really lock his office fridge at night?

18 November 2014 17:11

It seems the most exciting thing to come out of today’s Commons press gallery lunch with Danny Alexander was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s claim that George Osborne locks… Continue reading

Spending Review - Government Ministry Buildings

David Cameron is a Tory, not a radical. Which is both a strength and a problem.

16 June 2014 13:07

There is much to enjoy in Dominic Cummings’ glorious attack on the ghastliness of Britain’s political system. It is a cri-de-coeur from a man who, whatever else may be said… Continue reading

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Whitehall is falling in on Nick Clegg

13 May 2014 14:00

The Cold War that everyone in Westminster thought would never kick off is well and truly under way. Time was when ministers and advisers imagined that the letters and internal… Continue reading

IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri launching his report this week. Photo: DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Podcast: Adapting to climate change, monogamy in gay marriage and new forms of electioneering

3 April 2014 8:41

Is the world finally realising it has to adapt to, rather than halt, climate change? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, Matt Ridley discusses this week’s Spectator cover on… Continue reading

Image: Getty

What is Alex Salmond’s plan for the currency now?

14 February 2014 13:05

Alex Salmond is now a man without a plan. He is offering Scots a future of uncertainty and instability. Threats of a debt default leaving Scotland and Scots with a… Continue reading


With friends like these the Union has no need for enemies

6 February 2014 16:44

In the cover story for this week’s edition of the magazine (subscribe, by the way!) I write that “The battle for Britain is being conducted on a wavelength which unionist… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Whitehall needs reform – and the Prime Minister needs to lead it

11 December 2013 13:41

James Forsyth is right. Whitehall does need reforming. But he is wrong to present this in stark terms of ministers versus mandarins. The real position is more complicated, and not… Continue reading


How central government could slim down – and why it probably won’t

17 June 2013 13:58

The Treasury is entering its last minute negotiations with recalcitrant departments ahead of next week’s spending review announcement. But for all the talk of ‘difficult decisions’, the settlement doesn’t look… Continue reading

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Andrew Mitchell, friend of the civil service

10 June 2013 13:17

Tensions between some ministers and the civil service are at boiling point, with vicious briefings taking place on both sides. Seemingly keen to keep the pen-pushers sweet, former Chief Whip… Continue reading


Culture wars

30 May 2013 15:46

Shadow arts minister Dan Jarvis set chins wagging today by suggesting that ‘well-placed sources in Whitehall’ had told him that the Department for Culture Media and Sport could be scrapped… Continue reading


DCMS permanent secretary Jonathan Stephens to leave post

14 May 2013 15:07

Jonathan Stephens, permanent secretary at the Culture, Media and Sport department, has today announced he is moving on, after a cross-Whitehall effort to shift him, I have learned. Stephens, who… Continue reading


Ministers nudge policy unit into private sector

30 April 2013 22:20

The government’s ‘nudge unit’ has always been regarded as radical – or a bit wacky, depending on your outlook – and now this Cabinet Office division, officially known as the… Continue reading

Those defending the civil service hold the education department up as an example of radical reform being successful. But it hasn't been without its battles. Picture: Getty

War in Whitehall or plumbing problems?

18 January 2013 14:11

Is there really war in Whitehall? Tensions between ministers and civil servants have certainly spilled over at some departments, but there has, as you might expect, been a backlash over… Continue reading


The View from 22: Obama, the Pacific president

17 January 2013 8:32

On this week’s View from 22 podcast, the Spectator’s assistant editor Freddy Gray discusses his cover feature on Barack Obama, who he argues is becoming the pacific-centric president. Although America… Continue reading

Whitehall sources see the Times investigation into the civil service as a 'watershed moment'. Picture: Getty

The Whitehall watershed moment

15 January 2013 16:55

Those pushing for reform of the civil service have been heartened still further today by the number of interventions from politicians of other parties on the need for change. Yesterday… Continue reading


Hostilities deepen in Whitehall Wars

14 January 2013 17:50

‘The relationship between my civil servants and me is summed up by trust and understanding. I don’t trust them and they don’t understand me,’ one Secretary of State likes to… Continue reading

Francis Maude is trying to undo some of the gumming up of Whitehall. Picture: Getty

The gumming up of Whitehall

17 December 2012 12:36

Tony Blair is paying a visit to journalists in the Commons this week for a festive lunch. Last week, David Cameron complained to lunching hacks about the ‘gumming up’ of… Continue reading

The 'very influential' Sir Jeremy Heywood

Jeremy Heywood, just call him very influential

7 December 2012 19:43

The main topic of conversation in Whitehall today has been The Guardian’s profile of the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. One particular passage has raised some eyebrows in several ministerial… Continue reading

Eurofighter Typhoon Launched To Replace Tornado F3s

Whitehall’s mistake over BAE and EADS

11 October 2012 17:48

There have been some sharp responses to the demise of the proposed BAE EADS merger. My personal favourite is John Redwood’s pithy: ‘Several of you wrote in expressing dismay at the… Continue reading

The Liberal Democrats Hold Their Annual Party Conference

Danny Alexander’s real enemy

11 August 2012 17:22

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is to drop his normally conciliatory voice to attack the Tories at the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton. So what? you… Continue reading

Ministers Arrive For A Cabinet Meeting

Letwin fails to consult about the consultation on consultations

20 July 2012 14:45

Oliver Letwin’s decision to launch a consultation on reducing the amount of time that government has to spend on consultations has sparked controversy in Whitehall. Sticklers for procedure are complaining, in a… Continue reading

UK Reacts To Government Spending Review

Consulting on consultations

18 July 2012 17:00

We’re approaching that point in the government’s life cycle when ministers begin to worry about whether they’ll be able to get things done before the next election. One Tory was… Continue reading