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Friday 26 July 2019

Penman warns “self-styled disruptor” Cummings of “the realities of running government”

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Graham Martin

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has responded to Dominic Cummings’ recent appointment as a chief advisor to Boris Johnson with a cautionary message: there is a difference between “theoretical radicalism” and the reality of government.

Speaking on this appointment, Penman said: “Dominic Cummings, like self-styled disruptors before him such as Steve Hilton, quickly find their theoretical radicalism clashes with the realities of running government and the complexities of delivering vital public services. There’s a huge difference between bringing in new ideas or radical agendas and implementing untested ideologies which, if they go wrong, will impact upon the delivery of public services to millions of citizens.”

Cummings, the former head of the Vote Leave campaign, has a history of criticising civil servants. He has described a permanent civil service as “an idea for the history books”, and stated that he would “get rid of permanent secretaries”.

Penman also noted the reason behind Johnson’s decision, explaining that “every new Prime Minister, impatient to see their bold agenda delivered, comes into office with a thirst to shake things up and think the unthinkable. The appointment of Dominic Cummings is clearly this Prime Minister’s signal of intent.”

The General Secretary’s warning extended to Johnson, as he noted that “ultimately, it will be for the Prime Minister and ministers to decide on the government’s agenda – with advice from the civil service and special advisers – as they will ultimately be accountable for any success or failure of any policy, including untested theoretical ones.”

His comments were covered by i newspaper and The Guardian.

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