I notice that my dear colleague Tom reckons Francis Maude is the intellectual power behind the government - and that’ll be why we’re in this fix. My ongoing project to analyse the government’s disclosures of meetings with external lobbies came to similar conclusions with a quite limited data set as far back as October.
OK, be like that : here’s the link.
Since then, the ScraperWiki app has dragged in a lot more data and it’s going to do more as this week gets on. And I can be the first to tell you that Maude, or Franciscus Mediocritus as we like to think of him, is still:
1) very heavily lobbied for someone who isn’t really a top line minister - it’s serious but it ain’t the Treasury or the Foreign Office, is it? 2) very heavily lobbied for someone who isn’t a callow bagcarrier acting as the government’s spam filter - it’s the Cabinet Office, and that’s not parliamentary under-secretary of state to the Scottish Office, is it now? 3) very heavily lobbied by serious lobbyists - the British Bankers’ Association, which met him in September to discuss the “Big Society agenda” (O RLY?), giant accountants KPMG (September, to discuss “Reform Proposals”), retail-cloud computing powerhouse Amazon (September, for an introductory meeting), Bradfordian data-miners Experian (same again), outsourcer Wipro (same again), monster IT contractor Fujitsu aka the people behind the NHS IT mess (September again, to discuss “Contract Renegotiation” - you bet…), and some outfit called “Rothschild” (also September for an intro) aren’t the Cats’ Protection League, are they? These are exactly the folk the Tories want to get deeply involved in the civil service.
Our provisional recommendations would be, then:
1) If you’re after a little grant for your wanktank, by all means see Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society. He processes a ferocious number of meetings with petitioners, like some medieval duke’s downtrodden scrivener. You wouldn’t expect any real influence, but if there might be any Big Society funding going, that would be the place. Show him the pustule; we hear he can’t stand the sight of matter.
2) If you need to do serious business and you’re not Rupert Murdoch or anyone else with direct access to the prime minister, don’t be fobbed off with anyone but Mr. Frankie, who has access to detailed thinking and top officials. Or should that be Fredo? He’s a good man. He can take care of things.
By the way, you all know we’re partisan as hell. But don’t imagine that makes us blinkered fanatics. MySociety, we know all about your meetings with Eric Pickles. Yes, it’s sick. Yes, it’s perverted. Why bother with the video otherwise?
And is “Mark” Riley, who had an audience of the Maude recently to discuss “Big Society Agenda and digital”, really the Boy, Lard? The spelling is wrong but the civil service can mangle anything. Surely the BBC, or at least the Shirehorses, should give us an answer?
*We are intended to Evelyn Waugh for the title