Improving the machinery of government is not the flashiest endeavour. The challenges in front of us as a country, however, will be harder to tackle unless we look at the nuts and bolts of delivery to get better results for the people we serve.
The Cabinet Office, led by Michael Gove, sits at the heart of government and is tasked with strengthening the Union, sustaining a flourishing democracy and running the civil service. Last month, I returned from maternity leave to begin my first ministerial role as Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office and it has been a busy month learning my brief.
The vote to leave the EU was, in part, an instruction by the British people to make our democracy more effective at serving national and local interests. The political gridlock of the last few years and the covid pandemic have since shone fresh light on some of our system’s shortcomings. If we are going to reboot the country and deliver on our manifesto promises, the machinery of government will need to be up to the task.
On 27 June, Mr Gove made an important speech, ‘The Privilege of Public Service’, which set out how he thinks that machinery must change. As he described, ‘There is a tendency to see success in government measured by the sound of applause in the Westminster village, not the weight we lift from others’ distant shoulders. Favourable media commentary, pressure group plaudits, peer group approval, all drive activity. But what is less often felt is the pressure to show, over time, that programmes have been effective and enduring.’
My role as a Minister will mean that I cannot speak as freely as a backbencher in parliament. However, I hope it will give me the opportunity to obtain meaningful results for my constituents over the course of the parliamentary term ahead.