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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The target culture

Whoever said that this government was obsessed with targets was most probably right. Exhibit One, this order to Ministers from Number 10:

Government sources say the prime minister, who will take a short UK holiday with his family in August, banged his finger on the table at a recent cabinet meeting, telling ministers: "You have to be careful with your holidays this year." An insider said: "This was taken to mean, 'don't go too far and don't go for too long'."

The order was followed up by a forceful memo written by Paul Brown, the No 10 official in charge of scheduling government announcements, which makes it clear the summer recess is not a time to slacken pace. Departments must announce two "items of business" each week from 27 July to 11 September.

Duty ministers must be in London during their stint. "The prime minister wants business to be fronted by ministers and expects duty ministers to be on duty in London or on departmental visits at all times," it states. Previously, duty ministers came to London only when a crisis broke.

Actually, I quite agree about one thing at least, recess is not a holiday and I intend to work through most of it. David Cameron has a more relaxed attitude:

A source close to David Cameron said the Tory leader would be issuing no such orders: "David takes the view that people deserve a good holiday."

I suspect that once the media start demanding opposition responses to Government recess initiatives, his tone will change pretty sharpish.
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