From the late 1970s, from which time Jonathan Powell correctly identifies the collapse of cabinet government, the civil service has pursued a relentless agenda of central Statism, gathering power to Whitehall in an effort to effectively exercise all the levers of government control via ministerial diktat and statutory instrument. Not only has this process neutered local government, it has emasculated Parliament; Ann Widdecombe said in an interview with Total Politics that she entered Parliament as an MP and is leaving as an employee of the House of Commons.
So the crocodile tears shed by the mandarins who brought this about, reported today in the Guardian, should not be given too much credence. These are the very men who have destroyed Parliamentary democracy and local governance and who have cultivated a politicised and corrupt civil service. Their bleating shifts the blame onto Labour, but you can be sure this is only a tactic ahead of fears that Cameron will shrink the power of the central State and undo thirty years of their cynical centralisation.