Brown back in the bunker?

Lots of gossip in Whitehall about Sue Cameron’s piece in the FT the day before yesterday:

Oh dear! No one in Whitehall expected Gordon Brown to revert to type so quickly. He has been in Number 10 less than six months but, to the horror of civil servants, he has already hunkered down and cut most communication with the rest of government. Insiders say that no papers, no ideas and no decisions are getting through the barbed wire – only announcements from the leader that have been discussed with no one outside Mr Brown’s inner circle.

As a result, the corridors of power have become the corridors of impotence. Whitehall teems with unhappy cabinet ministers who have not been consulted or even informed about proposals that concern them – little details such as the date of the Budget, troop withdrawals in Iraq or the cancelling of the general election.

Equally significant yet unnoticed by outsiders is the impact on officials who find they are as much out of the loop as ever they were in the days of Tony Blair. With their ministers sidelined, their own expertise – and sometimes months of work on new proposals – is being ignored.

Their mood has shifted markedly from the welcome they gave Mr Brown in the summer. They feel he has reneged on his promises of a return to a more open, listening government. Criticism among the permanent secretaries, Whitehall’s college of cardinals, is swelling.

This is a story that Brown can’t afford to allow to run…