Impartiality of state employees

There was some accidentally revealing stuff today on Radio 5Live's reporting of Tony Blair's resignation and their review of his premiership. First Jane Garvey reported that the halls of Corporation House were awash with empty champagne bottles the morning after the 1997 election. Realising that this gave the lie to the BBC's supposed impartiality, she whittered briefly on the subject of whether this really indicated preference for Labour, before eventually saying that she wished she'd never brought it up. Oops.

A few minutes later, they were discussing Claire Short's inclusion in the cabinet, and a civil-service interviewee recalled how happy the civil servants were with the election of Labour, and how, when Claire Short told her civil servants that they were to be freed from the constraints of having to pursue Britain's national interest and should henceforth concentrate solely on the elimination of poverty, they all cheered. So that's impartiality within the civil service and our national broadcasting corporation blown out of the water, then.

The one good thing that the socialists can take from this is that it lets Tony Blair, who is often accused of politicising the civil service, off the hook. It turns out that they were perfectly adequately politicised before he came along. 

No surprise, of course, that people paid with taxpayers' money are in favour of tax-raising, big-government parties, but there was a time when they would at least have maintained the pretence of impartiality. The only answer, if this is not to become a vicious circle and so deeply embedded that it is hard to remove (as, in France, where more than 50% of adults are employed by or dependent on the state) is to have as few people employed by the state as possible. I'm sorry, Theresa, Dave, Oliver and co, it is about small government versus big government, it is not about good government.*

* Theresa May, in her speech to conference in 2005, came out with the line that sums up the Cameron Conservatism philosophy (and, incidentally, the neo-con philsophy as well): "It is not about big government versus small government, it is about good government." The wrong-headed banality made me want to vomit then, and still makes me want to throw something even now.