So Long Phil

Such is the lot of a Minister of State that just as you are getting comfortable in one office you have to go and measure up a new one for curtains.

Phil Hammond Ministry of Defence
Phil Hammond Ministry of Defence

I don’t know what kind of person Phil Hammond was to work for but despite his ‘spreadsheet Phil’ nickname he understood that what the MoD needed more than tanks, planes and ships was financial credibility and financial stability.

No one can have any doubt that this is what he has delivered and for that I think he will be remembered not for his sharp pencil but for delivering what the MoD has so sadly lacked for a very long time by standing up the gold braid bullshit artists and vested interests in suits, demanding of them total clarity and realism in expectations.

I think a doffed cap is in order.

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Mark
Mark
July 14, 2014 9:51 pm

I would agree promotion probably deserved. Couldn’t have come at a worse time I was hoping that hammond would lead the mod in sdsr 2015.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
July 14, 2014 9:52 pm

Disaster. I thought he did a good job. :-(

Challenger
Challenger
July 14, 2014 9:54 pm

I thought he did a good job as well.

Raffles, the Gentleman Thug
Raffles, the Gentleman Thug
July 14, 2014 10:13 pm

He certainly did a better job that I expected and may well have been exactly what the forces needed. Christ knows what the replacement will be like or how long they’ll be filling the post..

WiseApe
July 14, 2014 10:15 pm

Rumour has it that IDS will take his place. I’m missing him already!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 10:22 pm

He seems to have become the favourite ‘ fixer’ for the PM. First he (the latter) messed up defence; now the EU front needs someone with sense. Posturing can cost dearly if it involves painting oneself into a corner.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 14, 2014 10:30 pm

I’m just trying to think of one decision that he took. Good or bad, or indifferent, doesn’t matter. Something that is clearly stamped ‘Phil Hammond’.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
July 14, 2014 10:48 pm

hmmm, it was only a few hours ago i said this:

“can’t escape the notion that the ship-steadying spreadsheet Phil will take IDS’s job, to [implement] the vision of the visionary, much as he did for Defence after Fox…”

wonder if that will come true after all.

rumour has it fox is back in as a minister…

Not a boffin
Not a boffin
July 14, 2014 11:14 pm

Stand by for much rejoicing at Capbadge Command if it is IDS……

Real shame Phil didn’t stick around for SDSR15.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
July 14, 2014 11:16 pm

i like IDS, and i admire his sense of mission in benefits, but i’d be disappointed if he got defence.

bring back fox!

topman
topman
July 15, 2014 12:26 am

capbadge command, i like it NaB! :)

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 15, 2014 12:44 am

Hammond has been given Hague’s job (Hague stepping down at next election)

As for IDS, you’d better hope he doesn’t get Hammond’s old job. Imagine if the DWP were run by the MOD. That’s basically IDS’s legacy having made an utter mess of Universal Credit despite four years to get it right. He’s incompetent.

Fox tipped for Environment secretary.

Ant
Ant
July 15, 2014 12:47 am

Beeb says Fox has got a Ministerial job as Environment Secretary, so we’re shot of him for now…

Nick
Nick
July 15, 2014 5:24 am

sky news seems to think Anna Scoubry will be his replacement.

The Other Chris
July 15, 2014 6:01 am

Let’s hope the positive changes have been institutionalised at the MoD and Treasury going forward.

John Gough
July 15, 2014 7:17 am

I think he did a good job also and it’s a shame he won’t be here for 2015 SDSR. Hopefully he can be as good at the FCO.

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
July 15, 2014 8:34 am

It is a shame he has gone- I felt he did a good job after Fox’s cock up: I dread to think who will replace him.

The Other Chris
July 15, 2014 8:47 am

Philip Hammond accepts job of foreign secretary, replacing William Hague, BBC confirms
– BBC News ticker

There is speculation that Business Minister Michael Fallon could be appointed defence secretary.
– BBC News live stream

The Other Chris
July 15, 2014 8:53 am

The BBC’s Norman Smith describes Michael Fallon (pictured) as a man who gets the job done. “If you’ve got a problem, send out Michael Fallon to douse it down,” he says.
– BBC News live stream

Would Fallon represent a reasonable continuation after Hammond’s successful implementation of “The Plan”?

Iain Duncan Smith is to remain as Work and Pensions Secretary.

Ant
Ant
July 15, 2014 9:06 am

It is Michael Fallon

Wiki page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Fallon

Chris
Chris
July 15, 2014 9:09 am

It is Michael Fallon.

Tubby
Tubby
July 15, 2014 9:24 am

Does Michael Fallon’s appointment (given he is MP for Portsmouth) mean that the RN is finally going to get all of the jam at the expense of the other services, or does his previous experience as Business minister mean he is going to be pushing forward all of the capital projects to help promote UK businesses?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 15, 2014 9:29 am

@Tubby

Probably a bit of both, as it’s not going to hurt his local votes to be Navy centric. He was however one of the biggest champions of privatising the Royal Mail, so I would not think he is too arssed about tradition etc when it comes to making decisions about efficiency and money.

Simon257
Simon257
July 15, 2014 9:30 am

@ Tubby

Isn’t Fallon the MP for Severnoaks?

Tubby
Tubby
July 15, 2014 9:36 am

Not sure how to do the emoticon for embarrassed but you are right he is the MP for Sevenoaks. Wikipedia does say that in 2014 he was made for Minister for Portsmouth http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-25753398

Not sure what being Minister for Portsmouth means though – it sounds a bit like a non-job.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 15, 2014 9:39 am

So he was minister for Portsmouth when the closing of the BAE shipbuilding yard was announced?

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
July 15, 2014 9:40 am

He is minister for Portsmouth rather than MP, we are special and get our own minister as we are losing shipbuilding. Not that he has really done much except make the odd announcement and give someone for the PM to deflect any nasty questions to.

Tubby
Tubby
July 15, 2014 9:42 am

@David Niven

According to the news report he was appointed after they decided to close BAE shipyard to try to reduce the impact of the loss of jobs. Still not sure Minister for Portsmouth is a real job, but at least he may at least have some idea of defence issues before he is passed the defence portfolio.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
July 15, 2014 9:43 am

@ Dave Niven

Nope, he was given the title a few months later when people started getting annoyed with the lack of response from the government about mitigating job losses etc.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 15, 2014 9:43 am

No.

Minister for Portsmouth was announced as a direct response to the cessation of shipbuilding in Portsmouth Naval base.

Not convinced he’s actually done a lot, other than provide a focal point for the various departments, companies and Quangos to co-ordinate initiatives.

Given that the Portsmouth decision was a bit of a stitch-up, he didn’t really have many decent cards to play either.

Phil
July 15, 2014 9:44 am

How much impact does a Minister actually have, as in is he so irreplaceable? I doubt it.

As for IDS, UC is screwed because the time-table was always far, far too ambitious. Whoever set the time-table is to blame for the current situation in DWP and I see a suspicious link between a full roll-out going ahead full steam and nearly finished just in time for the election.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
July 15, 2014 9:48 am

@Tubby and Engineer Tom,

Thanks, sounds like it will not bode well for the traditionalists within the MOD if he’s happy to sit back and let shipbuilding go in Portsmouth and champion the privatisation of Royal Mail.

But I’ll wait and see.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 15, 2014 9:58 am

Europe, energy, the Treasury… all of that good background for a “big picture” Defence Sec.

The Other Chris
July 15, 2014 10:13 am

Aye, entering an established post that’s been cleaned up with a newly demonstrated working framework. Could be far, far worse!

Meanwhile a Foreign Secretary with Defence experience. Wonder if that’ll impact on how we carry through on the Lancaster House / Brize Norton agreements?

Craig
Craig
July 15, 2014 10:27 am

Google brings up various articles on Fallon discussing defence exports so he had exposure to the defence industrial side of the brief in his role as a BIS minister.

Chris
Chris
July 15, 2014 10:57 am

Beeb says there is a new Minister for Portsmouth (relieving Michael Fallon of the duty):

“Matthew Hancock (moved)
The MP, who is a close ally of Chancellor George Osborne, is taking on Michael Fallon’s old portfolio of jobs as minister for energy, business enterprise and Portsmouth.”

Challenger
Challenger
July 15, 2014 11:11 am

Don’t know much yet about this Fallon guy, but i’m pleased it’s not IDS who in my opinion seems to foul up everything he touches and hasn’t the backbone for the job.

`

El Sid
El Sid
July 15, 2014 11:29 am

Matt Hancock becomes Minister of State for BIS, DECC and Pompey, attending Cabinet. It just means that Pompey gets first dibs at any big capital projects that go through Cabinet.

I think you can see Fallon as a bit of a holding appointment for the next 10 months, but a safe pair of hands until the election. His background is in business, and his vigorous support for flogging off Royal Mail is probably viewed as helpful given that the major bit of MoD business in the next few months is privatising the land bits of DSG.

I’m not sure that FCO particularly plays to Hammond’s strengths, but obviously it’s a reward for a job well done, and his strong Euroscepticism obviously fits Cameron’s positioning on Europe. I think Chris.B. is being a bit harsh. The whole point of having an SDSR is that the big decisions are taken as part of that quinquennial process, so there wasn’t many for Hammond to take given that he came in a year after SDSR. But he wasn’t afraid to take big decisions when they presented themselves – I guess his big decision was reverting QEC to STOVL and the F-35B. On the flip side – the GOCO plan for DE&S.

But I think you’re barking up the wrong tree in any case. Charismatic leaders who chase high-profile “projects” to leave a “legacy” (from Hitler to Boris Johnson) aren’t always what you want, particularly in an organisation as bureaucratic / collegiate (delete according to taste) as the MoD. It may not be as sexy as ordering aircraft carriers, but there was a huge amount to do in just fixing the basic operation of the organisation after 13 years of a government that thought so little of the MoD that it made leading it a part-time job. Hammond’s legacy is more in the processes he’s put in place, and things like this :
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/302419/20140409-how-defence-works.pdf

Not sexy – but sexy isn’t always good.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
July 15, 2014 12:05 pm

Pompey getting first dibs, so how did Glasgow who are keeping shipbuilding, whilst we lose it, manage to get 500m from the Gov whilst we get to compete with the rest fo the country and area for extra funding.

Little bit of a sore point :p

El Sid
El Sid
July 15, 2014 12:19 pm

Anna Soubry gets promoted from PUSS to Minister of State at MoD.

@Engineer Tom
Hampshire isn’t holding a referendum to secede from the UK – and Hampshire hasn’t cancelled a rail link to the airport that will now happen courtesy of Westminster.

On a technical point – Glasgow got its £500m from a pot of money that Pompey isn’t eligible for. It came from Wave 1 of the City Deals, a Clegg project aimed at the biggest 8 cities outside London. South Hampshire would qualify for Wave 1 if it was one authority, but because Southampton and Pompey won’t play nicely together, they have to wait until Wave 2 of the City Deals for the next batch of funding. And they’ve got outline approval for funding under Wave 2, should be an announcement before the election.

El Sid
El Sid
July 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Julian Brazier replaces Soubry as PUSS. Given that he was in the TA for 13 years – including 5 with 21 SAS(R) – and has served on various committees and helped write Future Reserves 2020, I think we can conclude that his job will be to Do Something about the Reserves.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 15, 2014 2:25 pm

“@Engineer Tom
Hampshire isn’t holding a referendum to secede from the UK – and Hampshire hasn’t cancelled a rail link to the airport that will now happen courtesy of Westminster.”

And just as pertinently, the head shed of BAES Maritime doesn’t come from the VT ancestor, rather the Yarrows / CLyde ancestor.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 15, 2014 4:43 pm

@ El Sid,

I agree that Hammond hasn’t had a lot to do, which is why I find it so odd that everyone thinks he’s done a great job. He’s basically just overseen a bunch of decisions that were taken before he arrived. The STOVL decision was one of unexpected cost, not some great insight by Hammond. He’s done ok, not bad, but really almost any minister could have stepped in and done the same.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
July 15, 2014 4:50 pm

“He’s basically just overseen a bunch of decisions that were taken before he arrived.”

Exactly, but he wasn’t brought in to do the visionary bit, Fox took care of that, he is a solid implementer.

Before we do him down for that ‘minor’ skill its worth pointing out that very few people are capable of both roles in equal measure. Spreadsheet Phil did exactly what he was asked to do, and we should be grateful he did it well.

WiseApe
July 15, 2014 4:51 pm

Well I’m glad it’s not IDS. Don’t know this Fallon bloke. You know, if he really had his finger on the pulse, he’d come on here to introduce himself…..

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 15, 2014 5:02 pm

@ Jedibftrx,

You could have hired literally anyone for the job and said “sit over there, don’t talk, just play solitaire” and they would have come out the other side as being a “solid implementer”.

Mike W
July 15, 2014 5:49 pm

Chris.B

“which is why I find it so odd that everyone thinks he’s done a great job. He’s basically just overseen a bunch of decisions that were taken before he arrived.”

I think you have been more than a little unfair on Mr. Hammond, Chris. I don’t know for certain but I think it was he who introduced the idea of the “headroom” funding arrangement. That has resulted in a strong provision of £4.7 billion for contingency purposes plus an unallocated funding of £8.4 billion. It is only because such provision was made that the spend of £1.1 billion recently announced at Farnborough was possible. If he did not introduce it, he certainly implemented it superbly well.

In short, I think Mr. Hammond has introduced a stability and sense of realism that was sadly lacking from shambles that was so-called defence policy under the last administration (if it is not distorting the truth to call it an “administration”).

Phil
July 15, 2014 6:08 pm

I’d be surprised if he came up with that himself anymore than IDS came up with universal credit.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 15, 2014 6:21 pm

@ Mike W,

The whole budget cutting business started back in 2010. They made cut backs based on decisions that pre-dated Hammond’s appearance and ended up with some spare change. Supplant Hammond for any other Cabinet minister and you would have ended up with the same result.

I’m not saying he was shit at his job, just that he didn’t really do anything to deserve the praise being heaped on him either. He was adequate.

El Sid
El Sid
July 15, 2014 7:07 pm

.B.
I’m sorry, you’re coming across as knowing nothing about management – what experience do you have of managing large organisations? It’s not easy, and it needs skill to do well. You come across as someone who would dismiss Usain Bolt as just running about a bit, anyone could do what he does. It’s a mark of a good manager that he does his job without drama. Things like Astute, Nimrod AEW, Nimrod MRA4 go to show what happens when someone is just playing Solitaire (or running Scotland). Or paying £200m to rush-develop a unique RAF A2G mode for Typhoons, and then allocating those airframes to the Saudis. Under the one-eyed idiot the MoD was a mess – as Bernard Gray’s report makes clear, quoting annual costs of £920-2150m wasted just by MoD pissing about : http://tinyurl.com/kcsbe4h Or take the Bay farce – in the MPR of March 2003 the MoD reckoned the Bays would be delivered on budget and 3 months early, within six months it became apparent that it was a complete disaster, repeating many of the mistakes made with the Forts. In the end the taxpayer had to bung £116m of extra cash to Swans just to keep them afloat long enough to finish the work, and we still ended up towing Lyme Bay to Govan for completion.

Just implementing a contract, piece of cake. Or look at helicopters – compare the Danish Merlin integration and the ninja Chinooks, with Merlin HM2 coming in ahead of schedule and within budget, and Project Julius which seems to be going pretty well.

IDS has been mentioned, he’s a good example of how tricky implementation gets. He’s spent a decade working on the social justice thing, it’s hard to think of any minister in recent times who has spent more intellectual effort on their brief. But he’s struggled to get it past “the blob” at DWP. Maybe that’s his deficiency as a manager, I suspect part of his problem is that he didn’t bring in enough “Bernard Grays” to push things though, and probably thought that the people who dish out benefits would just get on with what they’d been told to do like the soldiers he had previously commanded.

I’m not saying Hammond is perfect, far from it. But he’s taken a department that was in a mess and made it significantly less so, even if it’s future SoS’s that will reap the benefits.

Put it this way – imagine if Geoff Hoon had been in charge for the last three years…..

Mike W
July 15, 2014 7:18 pm

.B and Phil

O.K. You both seem to know more than I do. However, observing him in action on many occasions, I became convinced that he was far more than a bean-counting, spreadsheet-serving accountant. The man had considerable political skills: in debate, argument and speechifying and was liked by large numbers in the services. I think they recognized that at last they had got someone who genuinely had the good health of the Armed services at heart. Naive? Perhaps I am.