The Labour Party & Whitehall

AuthorLord Merlyn-Rees
Published date01 January 1992
Date01 January 1992
DOI10.1177/095207679200700114
Subject MatterArticles
80
The
Labour
Party
&
Whitehall
by
Kevin
Theakston
Routledge
1991,
ISBN,
0 415 06701 4
£35.00
To
settle
down
and
read
Mr
Theakston’s
perceptive
analysis
of
the
Labour
Party
and
Whitehall
suited
my
mood
in
those
dog-days
of
limbo
which
faced
me
after
leaving
the
House
of
Commons
and
waiting
for the
Lords.
I
do
not
believe
defeat
in
an
election
is
the
end
of
the
world.
One
has
to
keep
thinking
of
the
future
and
this
book,
with
its
analysis,
is
positive
and
forward
looking.
I
was
particularly
taken
with
the
historical
flavour
that
permeates
it.
I
was
glad
to
be
reminded
of
the
role
of
Laski,
at
whose
feet
I
once
sat,
on
civil
service
reform.
The
Labour
Party,
particularly
the
Fabian
Society,
was
thinking
of
the
future
in
the
thirties
when
the
electoral situation
really
was
difficult.
1945
was
not
even
a
gleam
in
anybody’s
eye.
But
Theakston
also
usefully
emphasised
the
role
of
individual
ministers.
A
cabinet
member
may
be
good
at
conference,
or
even
in
the
Commons,
but
poor
in
government.
Experience
does
matter,
which
explains
the
strength
of
Jim
Callaghan
as
Prime
Minister.
He
had
been
Chancellor,
Home
Secretary
and
Foreign
Secretary;
he
had
been
in
the
Attlee
government,
the
best
government
of
the
twentieth
century
according
to
Harold
Macmillan.
Ministers
do
come
and
go
and
I
enjoyed
the
recall
of
those
who
saw
it
all
as
one
big
seminar
which
put
off
the
day
of
taking
even
the
smallest
decisions.
Some
never
realise
that
the
movement
of
events
might
necessitate
&dquo;bouncing
the
ball&dquo;
for
a
while,
a
decision
in
itself
as
long
as
it
is
not
just
inertia
or
making
small
but
preparatory
decisions
that
are
not
very
exciting.
Change
does
come
more
often
than
not
in
small
increments.
As
for
civil
service
sabotage -
I
just
do
not
believe
it
(one
has
to
take
for
granted
that
many
at
all
levels
of
the
civil
service
do
not
vote
Labour).
There
are
senior
civil
servants
who
disapprove
of
a
government’s
policy
but
they
have
to
be
dealt
with.
Of
course
they
may
be
right;
it
is
at
least
a
thought!
In
any
event,
in
my
experience
belief
in
civil
service
sabotage
is
sometimes
camouflage
for
lack
of
support
from
other
members
of
the
government.
The
blame
has
to
be
put
on
somebody.
,

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