Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Hung Parliament- the Civil Service Contingency Plan

It's that serious?
Unprecedented contingency plans are being drawn up by the most senior civil servant to avoid any economic crisis if Labour or the Tories are unable to secure a majority.

Officials under the direction of Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, are finalising details to ensure a coalition government can be agreed swiftly. For the first time, opposition parties will be able to call on civil servants to analyse policies that may be part of a deal.

The plans are part of a concerted attempt to ensure there is neither a void at the heart of government nor a need for an immediate second election.

But civil servants have admitted that the constitutional process is so complex and the need for stability so great in the current economic crisis that Mr Brown might have to remain in Number 10 for weeks if he lost power by only a few votes. Sir Gus recently told a Commons committee that it would be up to the Prime Minister to decide when to resign even if the Conservatives were the biggest party in a hung parliament.

There is great concern in Whitehall that there could be a run on the pound if financial markets fear that, without an outright winner, firm action to tackle the public deficit will not be taken. Government sources admit that there is concern about fragile confidence in the City in such an eventuality.

Officials have pointed out that the Queen has the power to block an immediate second election if she believed it would be "detrimental" to the national economy
You can understand why such precautions are perhaps necessary, but still the thought of the bureaucrats taking such close control over political proceedings does raise some uneasy questions.


tony said...

It was ever thus re civil servants.

Did you miss the recent series last episode this weekend I think about the inner workings of the home office, foreign affairs?

O'Neill said...

I did miss it. I'd be a lot more suspicious of the *independent" scheming of the foreign office mandarins than the home office ones.