In the months before the British general election of 2010, one of my responsibilities as Conservative Party Leader David Cameron’s senior adviser was to help prepare for what we hoped would soon be our first days and months in government.
We put together detailed implementation plans for our key policy priorities, devised a system of progress reporting to keep everything on track, and discussed how to organize things at 10 Downing Street and across Whitehall (the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the federal government).
As part of that process I spoke to a wide range of people who had worked inside government in various roles, to get their insights and advice. That included – in a somewhat clandestine way, given the fact that he was once a political opponent – former Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was a fascinating conversation. Whatever you might think of his record, there’s no question that Blair is an incredibly impressive political figure with enormous experience.
Blair was candid and thoughtful, and gave us a brilliant primer on what he’d learned about making the machinery of government work. But there was one thing above all that stood out from our conversation: his blunt warning about the administrative state and the attitude any incoming government would face from the permanent bureaucracy.
“You cannot underestimate how much they believe it’s their job to actually run the country and to resist the changes put forward by people they dismiss as ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ politicians,” Blair said. “They genuinely see themselves as the true guardians of the national interest, and think that their job is simply to wear you down and wait you out.”
That, in a nutshell, is the Deep State. And Blair’s warning was prophetic, as I discovered even before Cameron took office as prime minister. – READ MORE