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A damning verdict on Whitehall 

Afghans waiting to be evacuated at Kabul airport in August. AFP/Getty Images

The Foreign Office must be ruing the day it hired Raphael Marshall straight from Oxford University with a double first, says Ross Clark in the Daily Mail. The 25-year-old’s lengthy submission to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee is “perhaps the most damning indictment of the modern civil service ever produced”. Marshall was outraged by the “can’t-do attitude” he encountered when he was put on a desk overseeing the evacuation of Afghans who had helped with the allied occupation. At times he was manning the phones single-handedly. Thousands of desperate emails went unanswered.

Perhaps most striking was Marshall’s disgust at the civil service’s “unbelievably self-indulgent work culture”. The team leader running the evacuation effort tried to work from home, an approach that exacerbated staff shortages. Those who put in more than eight hours a day were told they were inefficient and selfish – on the basis that it “potentially pressures other employees to do so as well”. Senior leaders were even asked to “set a good example” by not sending emails outside working hours. Some of Marshall’s colleagues did go the extra mile, but others “shamefully walked off duty”. In a crisis like the one we faced in Kabul, is the Foreign Office there to help others in distress or to provide its staff with “pleasant and not too taxing careers”? Thanks to Marshall, we have the answer.

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