Cameron mends fences with civil servants

By politics.co.uk staff

David Cameron has made a bid to mend fences with the civil service after a brutal legal battle earlier this week.

The government announced its intention to introduce emergency legislation to limit civil service redundancy packages to a year on Tuesday.

The move prompted alarm and anger in the civil service, which provided an invaluable role in facilitating discussions between the Tories and Lib Dems in the wake of the election result.

In a speech to 450 civil servants at a conference in London this morning, the prime ministerwent out of his way to patch up the relationship by lavishing praise on the service.

“I have huge respect and admiration for the civil service,” he said.

“In my 20s I worked in the Home Office and the Treasury. I saw then just how talented and committed our civil servants are. And I’ve seen it again right from the first day of this government. In fact even before then – in the negotiations that followed the election.

“So much of what we’ve managed to do in getting this new government off the ground is a tribute to your expertise. You are the envy of the world and I want you to stay that way.”

Mr Cameron demanded that government departments publish plans setting out “clear priorities and measureable milestones” so the public could keep track of its progress.

The scheme is designed to ensure that the government can deliver improvements in schools and crime while still reducing the deficit.

“People are making a big mistake if they think this government is just about sorting out the deficit,” the prime minister said.

“That’s not why I came into politics. It’s not what the coalition came together for. We came together to change our country for the better in every way.

“I’m not going to criticise everything the previous government did.Where they went wrong were the techniques they used. Top-down. Controlling. Above all, bureaucratic,” he continued.

“That was the past. Now we have a new government. A new coalition government, with a new approach.

“We intend to do things differently, very differently. If I could describe in one line the change we plan for the way we approach public services, and reform generally, it’s this: We want to replace the old system of bureaucratic accountability with a new system of democratic accountability – accountability to the people, not the government machine.”

Trade unions reacted angrily to the news, with Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT branding the speech Thatcherite.

“Nobody is going to fall for this extraordinary attempt to dress up the policies of Margaret Thatcher in the language of Citizen Smith,” he said.

“When David Cameron talks about a ‘people’s power revolution’ what he means is that the people with the money and the power will continue to call the shots while the working class get hammered with job losses, attacks on living standards and public spending cuts. There’s nothing revolutionary in old-fashioned austerity.”