It has been my privilege to have known three Cabinet Secretaries, or heads of the civil service. Andrew Turnbull, Robin Butler and Gus O’Donnell ( who used to initial all his memos GOD). These men have served governments of all parties. They are incorruptible. They are fair and they treat their job with an almost sacred belief that their duty is to give impartial advice, no matter how unpalatable it might be to their democratically elected masters. It is for civil servants to advise and ministers to decide. And here lies the problem with Brexit. It is their job to give ministers options and give realistic advice based on the evidence.Let’s be honest. Not all Treasury forecasts are set in stone. Economics can sometimes be as reliable as meteorology. So don’t look too carefully at the figures, but look at the overall trends. And the overall trend is that a hard Brexit will damage jobs and business. To what degree nobody knows. After all it hasn’t happened yet. We are akin to 1939. A phoney war. But soon the war will be a reality. It will hit home. It will affect all of us in some way, which will not be pleasant.
To attack the hard working and impartial men and women who advise ministers is an attack on our democracy. Steve Baker, who has all the charm, but not the accuracy, of a speak your weight machine, quite properly apologised on the floor of the house for repeating and giving credence to the lie that civil servants are biased. Rees Mogg hasn’t. He accused treasury officials of fiddling the figures. Fiddling whilst the Treaty of Rome burns.
It has been said that he is the sort of man whom barmaids consider to be a gentleman. This is an insult to barmaids. It is not the act of a gentleman to accuse officials, who can’t answer back, with the protection of Parliamentary privilege, of being liars. And it is not the act of a gentleman too keep peddling these blatant untruths which he knows full well don’t have even the flimsiest acquaintance with the truth.
For Andrew Turnbull, one of the mildest mannered and discreet men that I have ever met, to suggest that there are echoes of Dolchytoss (stabbing in the back scapegoats in 1930’s Germany) speaks volumes. For Gus O’Donnell to compare Brexit zealots to snake oil salesmen who don’t want their dodgy products tested, is a sign that those who guard our democracy are deeply, deeply troubled. And so should we be.
This is terrible news for democracy. The zealots are demanding the sacking of another distinguished public servant Ollie Robins. The hysteria that is gripping the carpet biting wing of the Tory party is nothing sort of a disgrace. And a very dangerous one. It is meat a drink for Corbyn and his dangerous rabble. If we start a precedent for trashing and sacking our public servants he will take it to its logical conclusion. Give him the fools and he will finish the job.
But back to Mogg. He has camouflaged himself as a great Parliamentarian. But this is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. He believes in Parliamentary sovereignty so long as it does not affect the ‘will of the people’ on an advisory referendum.
It is time for Madame to assert authority. To show leadership. To show direction, otherwise Barnier will have us for a continental breakfast. But that is exactly what the likes of Mogg want. Sod Johnny Foreigner. Two fingers to Brussels. Let plucky Blighty go it alone. Remember the war.
So a message to Mogg. Don’t be such an ocean going dolchytosser because you are piloting this country onto the rocks.
And my message to Parliament? Be Parliamentarians. Give May a chance. But if all is lost, vote with your conscience. The people will never forgive you if you don’t.