The deeper problem was - and remains - the absence of a proper rule-book for the conduct of state business. The British have delighted in inventing games - all of them with strict rules guaranteeing equal chances for all players. Only in the most important game of all - politics - have we thought it reasonable to allow the leading players to make up the rules as they go along.
Our history, of which our governing class is so proud, should have taught us that once you prevent the expression of dissent you inevitably start to make mistakes. We need to do much more than fiddle with the Cabinet committee structure to put things right. We need an impartial Civil Service which owes its allegiance to the people through Parliament. A Civil Service Act would place the Civil Service on a statutory footing, and remind us all that one of their most important functions is to underpin our democratic freedoms. Such legislation would also prevent this or any future government dismantling, disregarding or politicising it.
Director, Charter 88
London EC1Reuse content