Just who are running GCHQ?
The National Cyber Security Centre picked its London HQ building not because it was the best or most cost-efficient location – but because the agency "prioritised image over cost", a Parliamentary committee has said. NCSC's HQ in the English capital's Nova South development, a glitzy commercial building near Westminster, was …
"Just who are [sic] running GCHQ?"
Whitehall mandarins, the same as run the rest of Government.
I must re-read the Yes Minister books again. There was an episode about trying to move Government out of London where Sir Humphrey listed the essential reasons why the Civil Service needed to be in Central London. Cricket at Lords was one, and I think proximity to Fortnum & Masons another. "We may all be on a diet of Lossiemouth" was a quote I (probably mis-) remember from it.
Getting put in charge of a nice shiny new Government department, only to find your desk is in Canary Wharf ("simply miles from my club!") would be a fate worse than death for Sir Humphrey.
"I must re-read the Yes Minister books again."
One or other of them should be a set book for GCSE English. Every year. They're now sufficiently old to be considered classics (which they always were, of course) and far more relevant than the classics Dickens and Jane Austen were in my day.
BTW Lossiemouth was a warning to Bernard that it might be his diet.
The first two episodes of YPM were on BBC4 the other evening. It doesn't seem to be part of a plan to rebroadcast the lot.
They knew, being spies, how late the Elizabeth Line would be. That promises a direct higher speed link to Moorage, which as you know is 5mins walk away from Shoreditch.
Victoria is only a single trip on the Circle line, but wait times can be 10mins + 13mins for the journey - even at peak time. The District line does not run directly from Paddington to Victoria.
I once tried the new Shake Shack in the next door building. Felt queasy all afternoon from the shockingly high level of heart-stopping fats in the burger and the shake.
I think of Victoria street as a little bit of 60s Birmingham dropped into London. Beards or no, at least the food is better in Shoreditch. Mien Tay - Yum!
A Brit can't eat American fast food without proper training, and if you want to eat Shake Shack you have to work your way up to it through (slightly) less unhealthy stuff like McDonalds. Good thing you didn't have a Popeyes there or you'd have dropped dead from cardiac arrest on the spot!
Do any esteemed readers of the Register have any examples of when a lesson has actually been learned by HMG to the extent that it noticeably changed later decisions or behaviour?
The only thing I can think of is troops breaking step when the march over a bridge due to an unfortunate event in 1831 crossing Broughton suspension bridge:
Although that didn't stop the London Millennium bridge needing to be closed and amended shortly after opening due to unfortunate swaying.
Any other examples?
When the HMRC IT outsourcing contracts last came up for renewal they weren’t put out for tender again, but were renationalised in an arms-length sort of way into a newly minted wholly government owned company called RCDTS. An expensive lesson that took two decades to learn, but they got there eventually.
I went to HMRC to discuss ISO27001 compliance and certification many years ago just after a 'Minister' (a Rt. Hon. J Hacker, MP, I think) had promised that government departments and agencies would all be certified to the standard in a House of Commons speech.
HMRC had identified 24 core IT systems, and eventually decided to do their own thing, as it were. This was around the time they had got all of our income tax returns typed up by people in India, but HAD DEFINITELY NOT SENT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION TO INDIA AS THE PEOPLE DOING THE TYPING DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. At least that is what the then Information Commissioner agreed to.
(Eat that Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, even YOU couldn't make that one up!)
'He also said "lessons will be learned", for what it's worth.
Pure reflex action.'
Ahh, those will be the lessons about sweeping bullying under the carpet during Anti Bullying Week and when his principal adviser on the ministerial code of conduct resigns after publishing a report into a key minister's bullying behaviour?
It sounds as though the choice was made by Osborne rather than a spy. So maybe he should pay.
I can understand not wanting to work in Canary Wharf. Dire place. Dire people. Only the City is worse.
The original backstreet location seemed far more appropriate for spies really.
A posh new building smacks far too much of that riverside location Bond flew a speedboat out of.
Why, oh why, oh why the fuck in London.
Every time something new like this is set up **IT’S ALWAYS THE FUCK IN London**. London-centric/first as ever.
By it’s nature IT, comms etc can be anywhere.
NCSC could have been anywhere from Carlisle to Weymouth, Inverness to Swansea.
Alight with a good tech University , GCHQ?
For the same reason that public enquiries are always headed by a (sometimes retired) judge*. Keep it all nice and 'in the family'. Don't want any unpredictable outsiders doing anything like actually deciding things rationally. Of course the lawyers reckon they are the best at asking questions, but honestly, Dorothy Hodgkin, Mary Beard, Paul Nurse, Harry Kroto are / were just as good, if not better, and are interested in reality, rather than 'the best argument'.**
The problem is that senior people in government like to be able to talk in person to senior people. And while some senior people are in London, the others want to be there too. The Northern Powerhouse would only really happen if the House of Commons moved to Barnsley.
*Like it or not, all senior judges have succeeded and risen through the ranks in a system of justice that still discriminates significantly against non-male, non-white, non-upper or middle class non-CofE brits, and strongly against non-public school and Oxbridge educated elite. The majority of judges were educated in private schools and went to Oxbridge, and are white, male and privileged, Lady Hale notwithstanding.
**My mother was a lay magistrate ('muppet' in the Police slang). Her training included a stern instruction that they were not there to decide on what had actually happened, but on which was the best argument from the prosecution or the defence.
I agree. Even if they do need to be in London, there is plenty of office space in the fringes. TfL moved to North Greenwich a few years back and a few departments have moved to Canary Wharf.
The departments will always make noise about accessibility and staff retention but it’s just that - noise. People adjust. Some move on. Life goes on
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