Better government does not merely require new political leadership. It needs a new approach at the top of Whitehall too
Good government requires ministers and civil servants to pull together. To pull together there must be trust. Trust requires both sides to respect the rules that cover the relationship. Ministers are elected politicians. Civil servants are career government officials. They have different responsibilities but shared goals. Many codes cover the way they should behave.
So far, so traditional. But these are not traditional times. The economy is on the rack after Brexit, Covid and the Ukraine war. The past year has seen extreme turmoil in government, with three prime ministers and multiple reshuffles. Relations between ministers and civil servants have been strained for a range of reasons. Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs and allegations of bullying against Dominic Raab are two of the most recent.