Liz Truss and her government have been attacking the Treasury to distract from the “junk” leadership over the British economy for the past decade, a former cabinet secretary said.
The prime minister’s decision to oust Sir Tom Scholar from the post of permanent secretary to the Treasury as part of the plan to introduce a “pro-growth” policy has sparked a huge backlash in Whitehall.
Andrew Turnbull, former head of the civil service, said it was wrong for Ms. Truss to attack the Treasury’s “orthodoxy” on economic growth, pointing out that conservatives had been in power for 12 years of low growth.
“What was the quality of the political leadership we have had?” Lord Turnbull said Times. “It was rubbish, very, very poor in its ability to make long-term strategic decisions.”
Citing the lack of a clear housing and skills policy, he said: “The idea that Treasury policy is the only one behind their problems when there are many other things, not least the inability of the government. making unpopular decisions is not completely convincing. “
Lord Turnbull added: “There has been a political orthodoxy, but I don’t think there is a Treasury orthodoxy.”
It comes when Sir Leigh Lewis, former permanent secretary of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), criticized current cabinet secretary Simon Case when it came to the sacking of Whitehall’s best mandarins.
“It also needs to defend the paramount importance of appointing senior civil servants on the basis of merit, not least in the appointment of Scholar’s successor,” he wrote in a letter to Times.
Sir Leigh added: “I hope he has the courage and the conviction to do it. If not, he has to give way to someone who did it. “
Former cabinet secretaries Lord O’Donnell and Lord Butler have already expressed their dismay at Sir Tom’s removal, which means that the protests were made by all but one of those who led the civil service between 1988 and 2012.
Lord Wilson – who was head of civil service under Tony Blair – said on Thursday that the layoff was “a sure way to bad decision-making and weak government. It is also another small step towards the politicization of the civil service ”.
Former civil service chief Lord Kerslake said Sir Tom’s dismissal was “retrograde and troubling”, arguing that it marked a “problematic” shift towards ministers installing civil servants who agree with their views. .
And even Lord Macpherson, who previously held the leading role at the Treasury, condemned the move, saying that Sir Tom’s experience would be “invaluable” during the cost of living crisis. “Firing him makes no sense.”
In a precise reference to the energy bill crisis in his exit statement, Sir Tom said he wished his colleagues in the department “all the best for the times to come”, adding that he would “cheer from the sidelines”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new secretary of affairs, has been accused by the PCS union of being a “bully” for his repeated attacks on civil service chiefs on the “rotten culture” of working from home in his previous role as minister of efficiency.
It comes as Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng prepares to announce some of the government’s immediate economic moves in a mini-budget on September 23.
Mr. Kwarteng is expected to explain the details of the plan to limit households’ annual energy bills to £ 2,500, as well as confirm Ms. Truss’s plan to reverse the 1.25% increase in national insurance, as well as abandon the planned. increase in corporation tax.
But second The Telegraphthe Treasury will not spell out the total cost of Ms. Truss’s energy plan, indicating only the short-term costs of possibly “a handful of months”.
The new chancellor also sparked outrage among trade unions and some MPs after it emerged that he is considering abandoning the cap on bank bonuses introduced after the 2008 financial meltdown.