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Civil Service insider exposed incompetence and waste, blog now taken down

Who is the Civil Serf? Hunt for blogger lifting lid on incompetent ministers

A mole hunt is on for an Internet diarist who shocked Westminster by exposing the "pointless and doomed" world of the Civil Service.

In a frank blog, the 33-year-old Londoner who calls herself Civil Serf writes of the incompetence, chaos and ignorance at the heart of Labour's government machine.

She ridicules a string of ministers including Gordon Brown - she calls him 'Velcro' because negative stories have a habit of sticking to him - and Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Last night her website, where she describes the headaches of being a bureaucrat in a huge government department which struggles to bring about any significant change, had been taken down.

The move aroused suspicions that Civil Serf had been unmasked or had gone to ground to reduce the risk of being identified.

In recent posts, she has claimed Mr Darling plans to use his first Budget this Wednesday to cultivate "cheap headlines" by announcing eye-catching but unaffordable measures.

One reports the arguments in Whitehall in the weeks up to the Budget, including claims that the Treasury accused her departmental bosses of trying to "diddle them out of money while delivering less".

She guesses child poverty and incapacity benefit will be "high up the list" in the Budget, adding: "On these issues the little "p" politics between my director-general and our private office has reached fever pitch with one accusing the other of scaremongering about spiralling costs.

"I'm getting restricted emails, night-time meetings and all sorts of other shenanigans."

She condemns the Government's reliance on spin and adds: "There is a strong stench of deja-vu. We recycle the same policies with different names; ministers repeatedly make the same announcements."

Criticising the bureaucracy and endless meetings, she says: "I've received a meeting request that probably deserves a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

"It is for something called the 'People Action Team' (don't ask) and it is scheduled to last for a staggering seven hours . . .Truly, there is no God."

She also tells how her colleagues are frequently "under-utilised", saying: "I know two people within eight desks of me whose jobs could be deleted overnight with no discernible impact on our performance."

Civil Serf, who began posting in November, has kept the department she works in a secret. But she is especially critical of Peter Hain, prompting speculation that she works for the Department for Work and Pensions, which he ran.

In one entry from before Mr Hain resigned, she says she saw a "union bod" ask him why his staff were paid less than in other departments.

She wrote: "Hain said, 'I didn't realise that was the case'. Stop Press! I mean, come on, the guy is in charge of the DWP and consequently the largest payroll ( excluding the NHS) in Whitehall. He doesn't know that his staff are on different pay scales to the rest of government? Hello . . . is anybody home?"

A department source said there were "suspicions" about her identity. A spokesman added: "Civil servants are expected to abide by the civil service code of conduct."


Daily Mail, "Who is the civil serf? Hunt for blogger lifting lid on incompetent ministers", 9 March 2008.


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