ANDREW PIERCE: Jack Straw's secret for handling the mandarins

ANDREW PIERCE: Jack Straw’s secret for handling the mandarins

Embattled Home Secretary Priti Patel could do worse than have a quiet word with one of her predecessors on how best to handle Home Office mandarins.

Days before her Permanent Secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, sensationally quit on live TV with a scathing attack on her, the historic plotting and scheming of some civil servants in the Department was laid bare.

In a letter to a newspaper, Jack Straw — who was Tony Blair’s first Home Secretary — revealed what Lord (Kenneth) Baker, Home Secretary in Sir John Major’s government from 1990-92, had told him when he took up the role.

Jack Straw — who was Tony Blair’s first Home Secretary (above)— revealed what Lord (Kenneth) Baker, Home Secretary in Sir John Major’s government from 1990-92, had told him when he took up the role

‘There will be 50 sets of officials in the Home Office working on projects that will destroy your political career and undermine the government,’ Baker told Straw.

‘The worst of it is, that not only do you not know who they are, but neither do they.’

Straw took the advice to heart and survived four years.

Former head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake, was one of the first on the airwaves on Saturday to attack the Home Secretary after Rutnam’s bombshell.

Kerslake sits on the crossbenches in the House of Lords, but there’s little that’s independent about him.

He advised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on how to prepare for government (what a waste of time that was).

And in votes in the Upper House he consistently sides with Labour and is a constant thorn in the side of the Tories — which is presumably why the BBC books him so often.

Kerslake sits on the crossbenches in the House of Lords, but there’s little that’s independent about him. He advised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on how to prepare for government (what a waste of time that was)

Keir shows his true colour . . . grey

Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer admirably lived up to his reputation for being very dull and boring when LBC presenter Nick Ferrari asked him what was the most exciting thing he’d ever done

Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer admirably lived up to his reputation for being very dull and boring when LBC presenter Nick Ferrari asked him what was the most exciting thing he’d ever done.

‘Oh, I’ve done lots of exciting things,’ Starmer said airily.

‘List them,’ Ferrari demanded.

‘Erm…’ Starmer replied: ‘Playing football. Going to football with my kids. With my family…’

Hmmm. Even Theresa May with her illicit runs through a wheatfield as a child trumps that puny offering.

Larry, the Downing Street cat who has his own Twitter feed, was quick to react to news of a new arrival at No 10. 

‘Do they make ear plugs for cats?’ he tweeted.

A plaintive plea from that veteran Labour luvvie Lord Bragg.

‘Tony Blair is now a voice crying in the wilderness. His latest survey of the Labour Party is as usual full of urgent good sense. There is no doubt that Blair could inspire the essential regrouping of Labour,’ he told the New Statesman.

‘Will the Labour Party’s genius for self-harm never stop?’

You have only to look at who’s backing Corbyn continuity candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in the leadership race to answer that!

Former MEP Stanley Johnson, who once had the ambition of being prime minister, is enjoying the consolation prize of being ‘First Father’. 

‘I am ready to recognise that it does behove me possibly not to do anything totally silly, unless I can justify it for other reasons,’ he says.

The apple didn’t fall far from that tree, then.

Mogg’s wheels have come off

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, who moonlights as a historian, clearly hadn’t done his homework when he tweeted: ‘We are the Aston Martin of governments. I am tempted to say the Bentley of governments.’

Neither is a great comparison.

Bentley is part of VW, which ‘perpetrated a massive fraud’ and repeatedly lied to U.S. investors over the so-called ‘dieselgate’ scandal in 2015, while Aston Martin, which has filed for bankruptcy multiple times, posted an £80 million loss last year.

Such a slapdash approach is something of a hallmark. 

Rees-Mogg’s 2019 book, The Victorians: Twelve Titans Who Forged Britain, was blasted by critics as ‘staggeringly silly’, ‘absolutely abysmal’ and no more than ‘pompous schoolboy compositions’. 

Ouch!

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, who moonlights as a historian, clearly hadn’t done his homework when he tweeted: ‘We are the Aston Martin of governments. I am tempted to say the Bentley of governments’

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