In Defence of Bureaucracy
BBC Radio 4
Episode 1 – 9am, 5th March 2013 – 28 minutes duration
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of many high-profile contributors to Gus O’Donnell’s two part series In Defence of Bureaucracy.
Pity the poor bureaucrat. He’s a desk-jockey, a pen-pusher, a bean-counter, a jobsworth. He’s seen as part of the faceless machine that strangles creativity and enterprise with red-tape. At least that’s how he’s often portrayed in popular culture and the press.
In the first programme (of two), the former Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, makes a provocative and passionate plea In Defence of Bureaucracy, arguing that far from being just “the glue that greases the wheels of progress”, an efficient bureaucracy isn’t only a symptom of a mature democracy – it’s a fundamental prerequisite.
At a time when one broadsheet newspaper has characterised the relationship between government ministers and bureaucrats in the Civil Service as “Whitehall at War”, Lord O’Donnell talks to, amongst others, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the head of M15 Jonathan Evans and Sir Antony Jay, one of the co-authors of the iconic comedy series Yes, Prime Minister.
Episode 2 – 9am 12th March 2013 – 28 minutes duration
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair is one of many high-profile contributors to the second part of Gus O’Donnell’s series In Defence of Bureaucracy.
The relationship between government ministers and bureaucrats in the Civil Service is at an all time low. It’s being described as “Whitehall at War” in one broadsheet newspaper as a succession of senior politicians call for wholesale reform of a system they see as dominated by old-style “Sir Humphreys” acting as the permanent opposition. In the second of a two part series, In Defence of Bureaucracy, the former Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, argues that we should be proud of our Civil Service which has made British bureaucracy the best in the world; and that hasty reform risks undermining a 150 year-old tradition of fairness, impartiality and accountability.
Gus talks to, amongst others, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major, and goes head to head with the man leading the moves to reform the civil service, the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.
Producer: Will Yates
A Juniper Connect Production for BBC Radio 4.