First we brought you news that the coalition had tried to hire Malcolm Wicks, former Labour energy minister, as their fuel poverty tsar. Then it was the turn of Lord Adonis, former Labour transport secretary, to turn the job down. Neither was thrilled by the idea of getting the Field-Milburn-Hutton treatment from Labour colleagues who cold-shouldered the three former ministers for taking up jobs with the Lib-Cons.
Now it transpires that Chris Huhne, energy secretary, has been trying to hire Lord Whitty – formerly Larry Whitty, Labour general secretary – to do the job. You could be forgiven for thinking that by courting the peer (pictured on the right) the coalition was deliberately seeking another Labour figure to make their big tent look even bigger. Read more
Civil service morale has – perhaps unsurprisingly – taken a distinct knock in the face of the spending cuts.
But the staff’s increased scepticism that the top of the office knows what it is doing is most marked with Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, Eric Pickles major deconstruction of the local government department, and in Vince Cable’s business department.
Staff are also appreciably less convinced that the department’s board is clear about what it is up to at Michael Gove’s education department and in the Home Office, headed by Teresa May.
Each of these departments has seen an 11 to 13 percentage point dip in the proportion of civil servants who believe that the department’s board “has a clear vision for the future of my organisation”.
The results come from Whitehall’s massive annual survey of morale to which more than 300,000 civil servants responded. Read more
The chief political officer of Unite is of less significance now that Charlie Whelan has left and Labour is out of power. But it is worth recording who has just been picked for the job; former London political officer Adrian Weir. Unlike Whelan he will not report directly to Len McCluskey, the general secretary. Instead new chief of staff, Andy Murray (who also chairs the Stop the War Coalition) is increasingly seen as the power behind the throne at Britain’s biggest union.
Unite had been talking to Joe Irvin, former political secretary to Gordon Brown, about replacing Whelan, as I reported last autumn. But apparently Murray was not keen on this idea. Read more