Former Government Minister Richard Caborn has unveiled his personal plan to boost manufacturing – by sacking four top civil servants and replacing them with successful Sheffield industrialists and academics.
Out would go the most powerful civil servant in Britain, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell and the most senior civil servants at the Treasury and the Departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and Energy and Climate Change.
Their places would be taken by Sheffield University professor and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre founder Keith Ridgway; the man who led the turnaround at DavyMarkham, Kevin Parkin; Forgemasters chief executive Dr Graham Honeyman and Cutlers’ Company Senior Warden Pam Liversidge.
Speaking at the Cutlers’ Feast in Sheffield, Mr Caborn branded Britain’s top civil servants “the decision-makers who have allowed the economy to become unbalanced.”
Politicians should take some of the blame, but the “Sir Humphreys” were the real power-brokers and the people who had played the key role in blocking the £80 million loan which would have enabled Sheffield Forgemasters to achieve its nuclear ambitions.
“The Civil Service – and particularly the Treasury – opposed that investment from day one,” he said.
The former Sheffield Central MP contrasted the skills of the civil service mandarins with the proven practical abilities of his Sheffield substitutes.
He compared BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly – a philosophy, economics and politics graduate from Oxford, with Forgemasters’ Graham Honeyman who turned the company from a loss-maker into a profitable business in three months and almost trebled its sales in three years.
DECC career civil servant Moira Wallace’s 10 years in the Treasury were pitted against Pam Liversidge’s qualifications as a respected industrial entrepreneur, presidency of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and he prospects of becoming the first female Master Cutler this year. Top Treasury mandarin Sir Nicholas Macpherson – “Eton, Oxford; worked all his life in and around the Treasury” came of second best to qualified accountant and “no nonsense turnaround MD” Kevin Parkin.
Time and again, the former Davy Marham boss had demonstrated his skills in developing recovery strategies for businesses where management had failed.