It is good news that Jeremy Heywood is to succeed Gus O’Donnell as Cabinet Secretary – and a good indication that reformist momentum will be maintained. As permanent secretary at Number 10, he has been very effective at making sure that the Prime Minister’s wishes are carried out across Whitehall. He is a deft hand at pulling the levers and pressing the buttons of the machinery of government in just the right way to ensure it delivers the results it is meant to – an invaluable skill. But more than that, he doesn’t suffer from the all too common civil servant habit of believing the status quo to be a state of perfection, and always looking for reasons not to change anything. He is a genuine reformer – and free thinker. Being cabinet secretary while retaining his role at Number 10 will make him the defacto boss of the departmental permanent secretaries, giving him the firepower to overwhelm any bureaucratic obstacles to reform. He also won’t be distracted by having to worry about the Whitehall paperclips – the administrative part of the role of Cabinet Secretary is to be hived off to another role, meaning that the new Cabinet Secretary will be able to focus on policy delivery.
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