Monday, February 1, 2016

The Wormtongue of Whitehall

Fascinating look at British Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood, a fixture of Tory and Labour governments for nearly twenty years:
Through two temperamentally opposed Labour administrations, the turbulent Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and into the current, dominant-but-brittle Tory government, Heywood has been a uniquely influential constant in Downing Street: a fixer and an enforcer, a confidant and a coordinator, a peacemaker and a crisis manager, an assessor of policies, an interpreter of protocol, a relentless accumulator of responsibilities and contacts and institutional knowledge, a conductor of internal inquiries, a keeper of secrets. . . .

Last year Heywood sketched some of his activities for one of Cameron’s biographers, Anthony Seldon. “Every morning, we kick off with a prime minister’s meeting. Sometimes we have an afternoon meeting as well … I help the prime minister to think through what should be on the cabinet agenda. I sit next to the prime minister in cabinet, and take a record of what’s been discussed … [then] making sure that is followed through.”
Love that blasé description of his job: he helps the Prime Minister think, and then follows through on everything discussed by the cabinet. Nothing to see here! As to how he has been able to do this for leaders of both parties,
“He’s the most non-political person I’ve ever met,” says a former Downing Street colleague.
One of his enemies calls him "Wormtongue."

Wonderful article if you have any interest in British politics, or how governments actually work.

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