December 2014: Westminster Civil Service, “Devolved Countries Unit”, (Dirty Tricks) campaign team wins “special” Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award
The three amigos who actually run the UK: Sir Jeremy Heywood, Sir Bob Kerslake and Sir Nicholas McPherson collaborated and plotted against Scotland marshalling the full resource of the civil service attacking the Scottish government and anyone in support of the “Yes” campaign.
In the months after the referendum, they expressed great satisfaction that their “Campaign of fear” had generated “fearties” in sufficient numbers so as to win the day for the Unionist coalition.
Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth.
My understanding is that Civil Servants are obliged by their contract of employment to be strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described were forbidden.
But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignored the rules and instructed staff to ignore protocol:
Leaflets produced by HM Treasury and civil servants at the Scotland Office were also savagely criticised during the Scottish independence referendum.
A democratic political process in which the Whitehall civil service should not have been interfering. The behaviour of the Whitehall Civil Service will ultimately be seen to be greatly damaging to any concept of the supposed ‘apolitical’ claims of the UK civil service.
Civil Service referendum Wreckers
An award, in recognition of the team’s outstanding achievement in making a difference on an issue of national significance, (the Referendum) was presented by the Cabinet Secretary and civil service head Sir Jeremy Heywood.
The proud team commented afterwards:
* Paul Doyle;
“This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”
* William MacFarlane;
Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy): “As civil servants, you don’t get involved in politics. But for the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
* Shannon Cochrane:
“we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.”
* Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury, (Public Policy):
“In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall. We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it was close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants, you don’t get involved in politics. But, for the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud.”
Any mention of the team members in the New Year honours list would be the ultimate kick in the teeth.
My understanding is that Civil Servants were obliged by their contract of employment to be strictly apolitical and deployment to duties such as described were forbidden. But Sir Jeremy Heywood simply ignored the rules and instructed staff to ignore protocol:
Leaflets produced by HM Treasury and civil servants at the Scotland Office were also savagely criticised during the Scottish independence referendum. A democratic political process in which the Whitehall civil service should not have been interfering.
The behaviour of the Whitehall Civil Service will ultimately be seen to be greatly damaging to any concept of the supposed ‘apolitical’ claims of the UK civil service.
Ann Doyle is quoted as saying: “This award is not just for the Treasury, its for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda. In the interests of transparency and democratic accountability would it not be essential to hear more from them.”
I expect they will enjoy spending their forty pieces of silver in London. They destroyed the hopes and aspirations of future generations to protect their jobs and to support the gentry. Shame on them! – No impartiality whatsoever.
For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign So, not really evidence-based policymaking then?
So these are the ones we have to thank for how Scotland is now being treated, removing one of our safety lines Kinloss rescue for all the children who are below poverty line and wondering what sort of Christmas the other people enjoy.
I hope they do not bask in the false praise of the Whitehall mandarins for long.
Now that Bitter Together has won the day Scottish pensioners will continue to be the lowest paid in Europe and heating bills will increase manyfold.
Faslane will be greatly expanded and the US will be invited back. (and they were)
Westminster politicians are keen on stating that the UK needs nuclear weapons. If this is the case they should be located near to where the civil servants who received the award live. Let them sit on the threat. Have a Merry Christmas I know loads of children that won’t.
The Whitehall Civil Service and Brexit
The Whitehall Civil Service gets involved in politics tactically delaying Brexit and the Tory’s didn’t like it. But when they did the same thing in the 2014 Scottish referendum the same lot were praised, promoted and awarded top civil service awards
Sir Oliver Robbins was until September 2019, a senior British civil servant who served as the Prime Minister’s Europe Adviser and Chief Negotiator for Exiting the European Union from 2017 to 2019.
He previously served as the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union from July 2016 to September 2017, and as the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Europe and Global Issues from June 2016 to July 2016.
In January 2014, Robbins was appointed Director-General, Civil Service at the Cabinet Office.
In September 2015, Robbins moved to the Home Office as Second Permanent Secretary alongside Mark Sedwill.
He had responsibility for immigration and free movement, as well as the borders, immigration and citizenship system.
In July 2016, Robbins was appointed the head of the European and Global Issues Secretariat, advising the Prime Minister on the EU and to oversee Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Shortly thereafter, the secretariat was moved out of the Cabinet Office to become a full department, the Department for Exiting the European Union, of which he became the permanent secretary.
In September 2017, Robbins moved from the Brexit department to become Prime Minister Theresa May’s personal Brexit advisor.
Robbins’s role in negotiating a deal for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union led to some Conservative MPs blaming him for an anti-Brexit “establishment plot”, criticising him as “secretive” and comparing him to Grigori Rasputin.
Acting Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill sent a letter to The Times defending Robbins, highlighting that civil servants implement the decisions of elected governments.
Responding to Sedwill’s letter, Andrew Adonis said that civil servants should “start getting used to criticism”, as they had the option to work on other policies.
A group of former military and intelligence officials associated with pro-Brexit pressure group Veterans for Britain including the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service Richard Dearlove said Robbins had “serious questions of improper conduct to answer” over defence and security co-operation between the UK and the EU after Brexit.
Former Department for Work and Pensions Permanent Secretary Leigh Lewis backed up Sedwill’s letter, noting the “occupational hazard for senior civil servants to be held responsible for the political decisions of ministers”, of which he considered the attacks on Robbins to be a blatant example in a particularly toxic environment.
Robbins resigned when Theresa May left office and took up the Heywood Fellowship at the Blavatnik School of Government in September 2019, after which he joined Goldman Sachs as a managing director in the bank’s investment banking division.
Robbins complicit in running secret parallel policy undermining his minister. Is that “impartial public service” or is it a civil service fighting a rearguard action against democratic decisions?
The problem is that significant numbers of your fellow citizens ‘know’ nothing of the sort; we no longer trust you. An investigation is required to determine whether the ‘service’ has worked in accordance with the codes of practice and in the national interest at all times.
What happens when the national interest and the ‘code’ are opposed?
At Oxford, Robbins was president of the Oxford Reform Club, a group promoting a federal European Union.
Maybe he is getting unfair criticism, but can you understand why? Is Robbins really the only civil servant without such a clear conflict?
The politicisation of the civil service has gone too far. Root and branch reform required. The senior civil service is no longer trusted. If civil servants are going to interfere in political decisions, undermining ministers, then they need to be properly held to account.
Doing one’s duty to the government is one thing. Doing one’s duty to the people of the country who pay your wages is a higher calling that far too many fail to achieve.
I’m staggered people can’t see that Robbins is an agent of the Commission. He is part of its internal political network. The civil service has all but been annexed by the Commission. May is an impotent messenger girl to keep Parliament from the truth of its almost total impotence.
Imagine getting this far and not noticing the scapegoating or realising that politicians made decisions that they couldn’t deliver. Nor that they are being played by them, not by civil servants trying to keep the rickety old Brexit cart on the road.
Problem is the Civil Servants have allowed their strongly held personal political Views to become public and influence their behaviour. They can’t complain that having entered the political kitchen they are experiencing its heat.
The government was elected on a manifesto to leave the SM and CU, notwithstanding the largest democratic mandate ever from the British people. Yet your kind always seem to manufacture obstacles to this end which aren’t there, which ultimately leave us dancing to the EU’s tune.
The crucial thing here is to remember that it is Theresa May who allowed this to happen. It is Mrs May who is ultimately responsible for this latest mess and the incredibly bad Chequers deal (capitulation) that Robbins, unchecked, has negotiated.
Robbins has been letting pro-EU tendencies shape our whole approach.
To negotiate with UK Services for 18mths, then simply phone to say you’ve changed tactics is not only incompetent, but it’s also arrogant.
That those tactics are wrong & you simply won’t be told? That’s something else.
I found myself listening to a civil servant at a private party. He was absolutely not impartial. In fact, it shocked me at how entrenched he and others (his words not mine) are about remaining. He had even moved jobs to not be involved.
When you’re not working, you’re one of us. When you’re working, you work for us. Don’t forget
Impartial? By what measure? You just made that up.
I’m sure they’re a great team – yet here we are with a Chequers deal that nobody else likes.
Worse still, the negotiations provide a clear & present threat to UK integrity & public faith in democracy.
I’m not sure ‘respect’ is quite the right word. ‘Sympathy’ might be closer. The moral dilemmas involved in attempting to deliver the impossible must be quite schizophrenogenic.
A dedicated and impartial public service. Oh my word!
Surely, Mark, the time has now come to report May directly to the Commissioners for her ongoing attempts to damage the UK? Civil Servants are not allowed under your Charter to ruin Britain, but that is what May is now trying to do. Why not ask the Commissioners for a Ruling?
But we KNOW this not to be true? Robbins has a clear personal predisposition to the UK remaining far more closely tied to the EU than we, the people, voted for. This has led to our Government failing to implement our clear instruction to completely leave the EU.
No, that’s not what you voted for. Did you get a special, personal ballot? You voted to leave the EU. Nothing more.
Absolute nonsense. You’re just the Appeaser’s henchman who has set out to con the public since Day 1. You’ll all be shipped out once May is dumped though! Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Disturbing, and evidence that the civil service is far too ready to see itself as a separate power base within our constitution, whose leaders should defend it in public if they feel it has been attacked.
It needs root and branch reform.
Oh grow up, you & Robbins are certainly not above criticism-for once forget your precious egos,the future of the U.K. is infinitely more important.
Its the duty of civil servants to advise the PM her Chequers plan is insane.
Every hour of every day. Head of civil service told MPs e-border “we haven’t looked at that”.. what ! You are jesting right..
The phrase “only following orders” springs to mind. There is another option for civil servants. It’s a hard one, I realise, but they could always resign rather than help the government push the UK over a constitutional cliff with a dodgy mandate.
Lots of civil servants have resigned. They need to take on thousands more to cope with the extra work of Brexit.
Well said. I was never a huge fan of Olly personally but the vitriol being thrown at him and blaming him for this shower is unbelievable. If the Government wants to implement a bad policy the civil service are stuck with implementing it. Olly has all CS and former CS sympathy!
“Dedicated and impartial” but more highly paid than the prime minister with greater benefits, no accountability and then you receive a knighthood….. wastrels.
Civil servant? There are two dubious claims, just in the job title
That you post this spin just further underlines the concerns of the public. it isn’t necessarily your fault, but the perception amongst the public and even MPs is that Robbins has more pull than the DEXU secretary. Something that was evident under Davis and now Raab.
I support the civil service, currently being used by many in the UK as a scapegoat for every Brexit fantasy that has (obviously) been unable to come to fruition. Red lines need to be revised.