Is Francis Maude a secret Fabian?

He works from a humble office, holds meetings with trade unions and plans to centralise Whitehall purchasing. Is Tory Francis Maude a secret Fabian?

He works from a humble office, holds meetings with trade unions and plans to centralise the buying of goods and services across Whitehall departments. Is it fair to ask whether Tory Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude is in fact a secret Fabian?

Tories often justify their ideological commitment to privatisation and competition as useful models for bringing down public service costs. However Francis Maude is working on a policy that gives the lie to this idea.

The BBC reported this morning that the government hope to save £3 billion in costs through centralising Whitehall purchasing thus utilising its scale, buying power and credit rating. This follows a report from Sir Philip Green who “found various departments had signed multiple contracts with major suppliers at different prices”.

The BBC reports:

“Mr Maude, who is also Paymaster General, said: “It is bonkers for different parts of government to be paying vastly different prices for exactly the same goods.

“We are putting a stop to this madness which has been presided over for too long. Until recently, there wasn’t even any proper central data on procurement spending.”

All sentiments that do nothing to dispel suspicion. In fact Mr Maude is so keen on the centralisation that Conservative Home report that “he probes the case for every spending item above £5 million personally”.

According to Conservative Home:

“As Paymaster-General, his Cabinet Office responsibilities include quangoes (culling them), strikes (stopping them), the Big Society (making it happen), and Whitehall costs (keeping them down).  And here he is, in a rather ungrand office with a very grand view of Horseguards Parade.”

The Daily Mail report that Maude “is to create a central unit to buy office goods, travel products and IT services for all government departments and quangos in order to drive down costs”. That almost sounds like another quango.

His work on strikes is kept secret. Mr Maude said:

“We don’t particularly draw attention to the discussions with the unions that have taken place, in a very constructive spirit, and we’re hoping to make progress.”

Is the reason he doesn’t draw attention to these discussions because Boris Johnson called the government’s approach “lily-livered” giving further evidence to our increase our suspicions.

So a very Fabian theme is developing in Mr Maude’s approach to his key responsibilities. This just leaves the Big Society. Mr Maude says:

“I absolutely undertake that we will be re-launching it this week, next week, the week after, probably several times a week, and if you want to keep a tally of the number of re-launches we’ll be well into three figures by the end of this year…

Is this humorous flippancy or a subtle attempt to undermine the project? We can’t be sure, but Maude goes on to say:

“The truth is that people have some sort of broad understanding of what society is…a bigger stronger society is one where more people do more things with each other, for each other, in their communities, for their communities.”

That might be a bit strong for the modern Fabian society. It almost sounds like socialism.

16 Responses to “Is Francis Maude a secret Fabian?”

  1. Jon Stone

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Francis Maude a secret Fabian? //bit.ly/jJd2aY

  2. Foreign Aid is Evil

    “The Daily Mail report that Maude ”is to create a central unit to buy office goods, travel products and IT services for all government departments and quangos in order to drive down costs”. That almost sounds like another quango.”

    We could call it the Department for Administrative Affairs.

  3. Mark

    So he’s doing exactly what a good Finance Director of a large corporation does to deliver shareholder value. Very private sector – as you’d know if ever stepped outside the tax payer funded sector.

  4. Herbert

    ‘Tories often justify their ideological commitment to privatisation and competition as useful models for bringing down public service costs.’

    Ideology, of course, is intended to mask reality. The commitment is towards their spiv friends making as much money as possible out of public services financed by the taxpayer.

  5. marc fenton

    I would suspect the whole of the “Conservative” cabinet are bloody Fabians because they difinitely ain’t Conservatives

  6. Selohesra

    I’m not sure I understand the point of the article – are you praising him or comdeming him? It seems to me he is trying to get value for the tax payers money he spends – whether that is a policy of the left or right I dont really care. The sooner politicians and commentators from both sides of the debate realise that no party has a monoploy on good ideas the sooner we can start to resurect the company from the pitifull state we are currently in.

  7. libertarian

    Yes Francis Maud is a Fabian and there’s nothing secret about it

    No centralisation of purchasing wont save money or enable us to spend more on front line services

  8. Barking Spider

    He’s also a graduate of Common Purpose.

  9. Sagitarius

    Goerge |bernard shaw’s “Intelligent Women’s Guide to Socialism” might have been Mrs Thatcher’s Bible – except that she was well to the “left” of it in the policies she actually followed as opposed to the rhetoric she used.

  10. Major Plonquer

    How can Francis Maud be a Fabian? I mean, he isn’t even an arsehole.

  11. Sancho

    Isn’t that what the likes of Walmart and Tesco do everyday? Allow their size and purchasing power to reduce the cost of goods to the benefit of the consumer? Are they Fabians then as well?

  12. Robert Eve

    It certainly isn’t socialism.

  13. Laurence Turner

    Fascinating article from @leftfootfwd. Proof of the immaturity of 'government is bad' ideology //t.co/UhGWJcY

  14. Jez

    Is the Pope Catholic?

  15. Paul Marks

    People doing things for each other (i.e. voluntary cooperation – without orders) does not sound very sociaist. The word “socialist” may come from the word “social” as in Edmund Burke’s “social freedom” (which, to him, meant freedom in civil society – the nonagression principle against both tyrannical government and against private murder and theft), but since the early 19th century the word “socialist” has normally meant “statist” (i.e. someone in favour of tyranny – the utter destruction of civil society, by attacking its foundation private property). Certainly the leading Fabians (such as Mr and Mrs Webb, H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw) fit this definition – with, for example, their support of the Soviet regime (a regime responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people) and, at least in the case of Wells and Shaw, their personal statements in favour of mass murder (Wells with his desire to exterminate the “millions of black and yellow….” and Shaw with his desire to kill anyone who could not “justify their existance” before a government board).

    Mr Maude may not be a very principled politician (there are some), but putting him the same group as supporters of despotism and mass murder (such as the Webbs, Shaw and Wells) is, hopefully, an error.

  16. Dulcie Fairhurst

    @robertabw Thought you should see this: 'Is Francis Maude a secret Fabian?' //t.co/cVkj5tB Maybe that's his secret?

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