Darling: A decade of stagnation

I’ve decided to use this blog as a place to showcase some of the interviews and features that I’ve written for Civil Service World over the past few years. First up is an interview with Alistair Darling, which was written at the later part of last year. I knew little about economics past the A Level I sat in it yonks ago, so I felt a bit like a geeky version of Rocky Balboa when I spent the weeks leading up to this interview reminding myself of basic concepts, memorising key vocabulary and reading relevant texts – including, of course, Darling’s own book.

He was pretty strong in suggesting that we are on track for a decade of economic stagnation, although – as with other interviews he’s given – this view now seems to have been commonly accepted.

As befits a CSW interview, we went quite in-depth into the principles of public administration and his method of governing – something that was notably different from his predecessor Gordon Brown, and his successor George Osborne. He identifies problems with Brown’s approach, and how his closed working-style went on to cause chaos at Number 10 (“there was just so much going wrong”). As for Osborne, a senior civil servant in the Treasury recently painted a picture of Osborne’s management style that seems to build on Darling’s model of actively involving his civil servants, but takes it one step further: Osborne pushes them to challenge his Conservative manifesto commitments. Not what I expected of him, but something that his biographers will doubtless examine in much detail.

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