Liam Maxwell and the Eton connection – Spend Matters ahead of the news again!

A bit of politics – with a slight procurement connection – for this Bank Holiday weekend!

There’s a fuss in the UK press after the elections last week around whether David Cameron is surrounding himself with too many old Etonians – chaps from his school like recent appointees Jo Johnson and Jesse Norman.  Now the press have got hold of the fact that the Government’s Chief Technology Office, Liam Maxwell, was Head of IT at Eton School.

The London Evening Standard yesterday reported this and said:  But how has Maxwell’s Etonian connection slipped by so unnoticed?

Sorry, it certainly wasn’t unnoticed by Spend Matters! We wrote here about his appointment a year ago to the Deputy CIO post, and pointed out that:

- he is a Conservative Councillor in Windsor and Maidenhead, one of the most innovative and forward looking in the country by general consent.

- he was the Head of IT at Eton College, Cameron’s old school (but is not an Eton old boy).

- he is an Accenture alumni, as are Ian Watmore, Permanent Secretary at Cabinet Office, Katie Davis, John Collington and various other Cabinet Office leaders.

Interestingly, all three of those Accenture alumni have departed government now.  But at the time, we even had a bit of Maths for you:

Maxwell AccentureEtonTories

However, we did point out that Maxwell was and is a genuine IT man, with experience in serious roles with firms like Capita. And he didn't attend Eton as a pupil.

But there is an issue here. There is a scent of the clique around this government, particularly evident in the Prime Minster’s close circle, but also arguably in the Cabinet Office where – fairly or unfairly – there have been mutterings about the selection process for top people. As well as Maxwell, Bill Crothers won his CPO position without any competitive process. Stephen Kelly did go through a process but had previously (and perhaps unfortunately) declared himself “Francis Maude's best friend” in an interview a while back. And Katherine Davidson, another at Director-General level in the Cabinet Office, worked for the Conservative Party prior to the 2010 election.

Fairly or unfairly, it can all contribute to a feeling of a separate political class, looking after their own – a feeling that Nigel Farage has exploited very successfully, as we saw in this week’s local election results in the UK.

 

Voices (4)

  1. Anonymous:

    Maxwell was appointed to the cabinet office without any competitive process. They did this by making his initial appointment temporary, 11 months, which gets around the rules on open selection. He’s now been promoted again without any competition. He might not be an OE but his appointment selection process is a good example of how closed the system is in reality and (without disparaging Maxwell) why it so often fails to attract the best talent in favour of political appointees and chums.

  2. Chris Keeler:

    The mainstream press noticed it back then too…

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eton-given-30000-of-taxpayers-money-823268

    1. Peter Smith:

      You’re quite right – wonder why press this week acted like it was new news!?

      1. Paul Wright:

        Because it suits the agenda today.

        I don’t know any of our leading politicians, but I suspect this is a similar process to one I used to see in the public sector – they think they know the best person for the job and that going through a tender/recruitment process takes too much effort and does not guarantee that person gets the job. Of course the problem is that you are only picking from people you know, unconscious bias can be at play and the process us not open and transparent leading to a loss of belief in public institutions. Which I hope is not the intention.

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