This week, former permanent civil servant Sue Gray resigned from her position as Cabinet Office Second Permanent Secretary. A job which entailed her managing (dominating) politicians in Whitehall and if reports are to be believed, the supreme commander of the Civil Service, and subsequently, the government of the day. Gray will now (pending approval) take up the political position of Keir Starmer’s Chief of Staff. A job which will entail her managing (dominating) politicians in Labour HQ and one politician in particular (Starmer), once in government she will potentially have more power and influence than Starmer as Prime Minister. With her connections and knowledge of the civil service plus her senior position in the Labour Party, will Sue Gray effectively be Britain’s Prime Minister in 2024?
I don’t believe that Gray or Starmer will be remembered in history, they will be a passing thought, the last politicians of the old system before the establishment of the meritocracy but they are figures that will be running the country until the end of the decade. So, who are they?
Sue Gray, is a 65-year-old spy (allegedly), who was masquerading as a COMPETENT and SERIOUS civil servant for most of her life, bossing around politicians and telling them how things they wanted to do couldn’t be done. She joined the civil service straight from school and was based in the cabinet office from the late 1990s. Gray has been afforded a pretty marvellous reputation and representation in Britain’s famously robust and intelligent media, having all those intelligence officers as journalists really does wonders for a former spy’s PR. She has been described as the ‘most powerful woman in Britain’, ‘the woman who runs the country’, ‘an enigma’, and ‘unless she agrees, things just don’t happen’.
High praise for the patron saint of the deep state. Given this anointment of power, has anyone stopped to wonder exactly whether this arrangement is a good thing for Britain? Who elected Sue Gray? I didn’t, you certainly didn’t. Will our great media be asking this question? Unlikely. Will our astute politicians be demanding an answer? Don’t be ridiculous. Those with any modicum of observational and deductive skills know that it is people like Sue Gray who really run Britain. And politicians secretly welcome this arrangement. Just read the below passage, a conversation with former MP and Minister Oliver Letwin:
It took me precisely two years before I realised finally who it is that runs Britain. Our great United Kingdom is actually entirely run by a lady called Sue Gray, the Head of Ethics or something in the Cabinet Office. Unless she agrees, things just don’t happen. Cabinet reshuffles, departmental reorganisations, the whole lot – it’s all down to Sue Gray. Nothing moves in Whitehall unless Sue says so. She gets to censor our memoirs too! Our poor, deluded voters think the Prime Minister holds the reins of power. Wrong! The truth is our real leader, Sue Gray, sits at a small desk in the Cabinet Office. If only the Chinese and the Russians knew! They have probably been bugging all the wrong phones for years.
Moving on to Starmer, a 60-year-old lawyer and like Sue a member of the deep state. Starmer was effectively a quasi-civil servant, he worked for Liberty until 1990 and then primarily worked on ‘human rights issues’ in the 90s before taking up more overtly political roles in the 2000s such as human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and also a member of the Foreign Office’s death penalty advisory panel. His elevation as head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008 brought about his formal entrance into the civil service, under his management the CPS failed to prosecute Jimmy Saville, like almost all civil servants however Starmer was not held accountable and his career carried on even with failure evident. He became an MP in 2015, and leader of the Labour Party in 2020. In a just country, Starmer’s career would have been over after he was forced to resign or prosecuted for gross negligence after the organisation he presided over failed to prosecute Saville, instead, the system protected him and he got lucky becoming a politician.
Gray is infamous for ‘for her determination not to leave a document trail’, advising special advisers how to destroy emails through ‘double-deletion’, and making at least six interventions ‘to tell departments to fight disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act’. An unelected, all-powerful civil servant is destroying documents and dominating politicians, that sure sounds like a democracy to me. To understand her power, Dominic Cummings wrote about Gray in 2014 and 2017:
'Whitehall has such a tight grip on the MPs that it chokes off attempts to change the basic wiring of the system. MPs have willingly handed control of vast powers to officials. For example, in a Jedi move, Heywood convinced Cameron and Llewellyn early that everything they do should be monitored by Sue Gray and her ‘ethics committee’ so No10 has now officially outsourced judgement of its own ethics. This of course gives officials huge, hidden, and unaccountable power. Heywood can give the thumbs up or thumbs down to Cameron himself on all sorts of sensitive issues (e.g. which billionaire came for dinner and was it all above board). In No10 now, Sue Gray herself decides what meetings she attends to monitor everyone’s ethics, forcing terrified spads and ministers to flee the building to have certain meetings.' 'You cannot reform the way the civil service works. Only a PM can do that and there is no chance of May doing it – she blew her chance and her reward is to be pushed around by Heywood and Sue Gray until her colleagues pull the plug and start the leadership campaign.'
In a just country, Gray’s position wouldn’t even exist. Alas, we do not live in a just country.
The similarities between Gray and Starmer are obvious once they are pointed out, permanent civil servants, deep state members, sticklers for ‘process’ and ‘ethics’, 60-year-old Blairites, and now Labour politicians, soon to be in government. Both are not particularly competent and both are offering no change.
The permanent political class in 2024 will solidify themselves in the form of Starmer’s Labour Party, with Sue Gray at the helm system change and civil service reform won’t even be mentioned, ethics and morality dictated by unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats will be sacrosanct but the power of the state will be effective. Make no mistake, when the sympathetic levers of power are being pushed by one of their own, the state will work, they will grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, they will force more devolution, the civil service will be given even more power, equality and diversity doctrine will become enforceable via prisons, and the state will control more and more of your life. A return to 2010.
The shouting from some Conservatives about ‘civil service impartiality’ is irrelevant and they are just mad they got outplayed by two boring 60-year-olds. Boris was outplayed too.
Sue Gray is a symbol that in Starmer’s Britain of 2024, nothing will change, the permanent political class will still be in charge, pulling the strings, and hastening the decline of Britain.
Only revolution can save us.