Francis Maude – misquoted

Francis Maude is widely regarded as the hard man of the Cabinet Office – if you look at the photographs of Cabinet Office Ministers he can’t even manage a proper smile, more of a ‘I’m coming to get your quangos‘ leer.  Having said that, Oliver Letwin, who is a cultured gent and so tends to be let out in public more than Maude, hasn’t managed a smile either, but that’s obviously because he was taken unawares whilst tying his tie (keep trying Oliver!).

Maude said recently that he had no sympathy for fears over the government’s plans (where are the LibDems please?) to reform the ‘regulatory quagmire’ of the planning system and that such opposition was ‘bollocks’ (his words).  Fellow Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin, with a properly tied tie (I am told), in contrast,  is quite open to some ‘bollocks’ and said at a Tory Party fringe meeting that there was no intention to weaken the protection of SSSIs in the government’s plans  and that if there were a danger of this then the government would fix it.  This is an excellent glancing blow by the RSPB – well done!  And we’ve always thought that Letwin might be the ‘dog’s Maudes’ as they are now known.

But Francis Bollocks is widely credited with being the principal executioner of quangos under this government (which includes the Lib Dems).  The story goes that one Cabinet Minister was told by Maude that she (that narrows it down a bit) just ‘didn’t get it’ when she came up with her first list of proposed quangocides and that she should go away and come back with a longer list.

And rumour has it, great thing rumour, that Maude still has it in for Natural England. Having removed its ‘Maudes’ he is looking to rip out its heart at some stage inthe future.

My favourite Maude-moment was when he was interviewed on the subject of the Big Society and asked what he did to volunteer – and answer came there none – except a load of ‘Maudes’.  Maybe Maude should take a leaf out of St Francis of Assisi’s book who said ‘ It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching‘.  ‘We’re all in it together except not me’ seems to be the Maude modus operandi. It’s possible, but not likely, that the Public Administration Committee enquiry on Smaller Government: Bigger Society will ask Mr Maude for a ‘maude juste‘ on his volunteering activites next Wednesday.

Here is a selection of quotes from Francis not-of-Assisi Maude.  I fear I may have mistyped some of them and the originals can be found on a site called BrainyQuote (!) which features no quotes from the Chancellor George Osborne at all.

For the most part our grassroots members are serious, nice, tolerant people – I have nothing in common with them at all.

If we do what we think is right, not try to point-score, people will begin to trust us. But we don’t, so they don’t.

If we want to change what people think of us, then we have got to tell them that they are talking bollocks.

Our party believes in diversity, but not much, and not biodiversity.

Our party has known great, great days. But we have no God-given right to survive, let alone to succeed. And I’m doing my best to alienate our natural supporters by telling them that they are talking bollocks.

So our problem is not Labour, it is us, because we talk bollocks.

The party at its best has been a modern party. But that was a century ago.

They don’t think we’re in touch with modern Britain, or understand modern Britain or like modern Britain – and they’re right!

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12 Replies to “Francis Maude – misquoted”

  1. Hi Mark,
    Having a voice and voicing an opinion is all very good. However, if you claim to be the voice of nature, you should rather lay off the misguided and ill though out personal opinion. Is it that you need to be sensational since you left RSPB or did you have one to many sherry's tonight. So sad.....sober up, grow up and lets have a an adult debate. AB

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    1. Angela - welcome! I claim nothing. You may not quite understand a blog - it is a personal opinion. This blog, my blog, is my personal opinion. The way it works is that I write what I want and you can decide whether or not to read it. Just like I don't read the Sun, you don't have to read what I write - no-one does. And I think you mean 'thought' not 'though', 'sherries' not 'sherry's', 'let's' not 'lets' and 'an' not 'a an'. I did have a sherry tonight but since this blog was written at the beginning of the day that is irrelevant. Growing up is probably overrated. Ready for an adult debate on anything - are you?

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      1. Really Mark, not your usual style, being rude to a lady! But I understand your irritation and, as you say, it is your blog (and I loved it). I do hope that you are not going to make a habit of correcting your correspondents grammar and spelling, it could become the dominant feature!

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        1. Richard - thank you. And I am always amazed by how many spelling, typing and grammatical errors creep through in my own offerings on here! I could never be a proof-reader - another career, along with diplomat, that appears to be closed to me.

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    2. Angela, come-on the piece was written tongue in cheek and not without a little humour. In fact, it would be to give too much credit to Francis Maude had Mark written in a more serious fashion!

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  2. Hi Mark,sure I do not defend you but surely Angela has gone over the top a bit and she must surely guess that as you have a fantastic record of printing things said against you,hers and mine included.A very good point about it being your personal opinion but we do tend to look on you as if you are always right because of your knowledge.
    Angela-- he writes no differently to what he did at RSPB and as one of his friends described him in glowing terms as provocative.
    Richard-- he is normally very generous in ignoring grammer from those of us with poorer grammer which is something I am grateful for.Think Angela caught him on a off day.

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  3. Did he really, actually say all the things you've quoted ? Almost George Bush standard !

    This is all more serious (as Mark knows) than the entertaining presentation might suggest. This is the heart of the Conservative project we are talking about and it isn't very pretty - for all us ordinary citizens, and increasingly for Mr Maude and his allies.

    It is actually very rare that environmental issues come down to really raw politics - but we did have a brief viewing over the forest sales - what looked like a no brainer to the rural right wing faithful turned into a disaster out of all proportion to the importance of the issue. What is not to miss is that had this been simply about bashing your opponents (and this applies equally across the party spectrum) the fuss wouldn't have mattered - really, be assured most of you reading this blog, the conservatives really don't care about what you feel. The problem was that, unexpectedly, because like so much about this Government they'd skipped their homework, the issue didn't pan out on party lines - those Conservative backbenchers (eg well know left winger (I joke) Julian Lewis, conservative, New Forest) who spoke so elequontly for their constituents in the debate before the climb down were dismayed to find their own supporters were as up in arms as the opposition - be reassured, there is the same risk on planning issues. The subsequent progress of the forestry issue has reflected the fact that Mr Letwin, who is, I suspect, really quite bright, worked out that there was the real possibility of even losing a seat over forest sales - and it is clearly not worth it.

    I'd like to reassure Mr Letwin - and Mr Paterson - that I think his judgement is right - and that the prospect is still there if the Government doesn't deliver on its promises on forestry by the election - and that certainly does not include pointless time wasting deck chair shifting whilst our Ash follow our Elms in giving up the ghost.

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  4. Is Maude a moor owner? Do I recall correctly that there was a story involving him, a game keeper and some dodgy activity? Could explain his alleged hatred of NE?

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    1. sh23363 - not as far as I know. I think he has a hatred for all NDPBs - so, nothing personal!

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