Tony Blair had education, education, education as his electoral catchphrase.
David Cameron said that he didn’t need three words, just three letters: N H S.
ConservativeHome would like to suggest an alternative: implementation, implementation, implementation.
There was a massive gap between what Tony Blair promised to do and what he actually achieved.
One of the most important things that David Cameron needs to do is to convince people that he is capable of actually delivering on what he promises. Francis Maude’s Implementation Office – just getting up and running under Nick Boles – has this task. The IO has the job of converting policy ideas into workable departmental plans and for training shadow ministers to be real ministers. Mr Maude has said that the possibility of a second General Election victory (should we get a first!) will owe much to whether the IO helps build an effective Conservative government.
There are many other ways of narrowing the gap between political promises and governmental achievements. This week we’ve seen Chris Grayling emphasise the extent to which Tory welfare ideas are built on what has already worked in other parts of the world. There is scope for localisation of solutions. More people with business experience could be brought into Whitehall. And, of course, government could do things better by doing fewer things.
We would like to suggest one other possibility: Whitehall may need more political appointments.
ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie has studied President Bush’s faith-based programme in America. It only started to work because political staffers within Washington’s main departments pushed and pushed the bureaucracy to do what was necessary. Our guess is that more political appointees in key Whitehall departments may be needed to ensure Sir Humphrey et al do not frustrate manifesto pledges.
The current Tory position is to reduce the number of political appointments but perhaps that’s a promise that only refers to media positions? We’re not quite sure. Anyhow, do you agree with our contention that a successful Conservative government may need a more politicised Whitehall?