Fascinating and thought-provoking.
Spanning the years from school in the south of England, through his time as an undergraduate at Glasgow University with well-known political contemporaries such as Donald Dewar, “Ming” Campbell and John Smith, Howard Fisher takes us through his time at Whitehall where he gives us his personal insights into what makes civil servants “tick”.
His book is fascinating not only because of his experience working in the Thatcher years and subsequently under New Labour, but also because he gives us an unusually first-hand and honest insight into the inner workings of national and local government: e.g. how speaking up can “damage your prospects in the civil service”. Howard Fisher certainly doesn’t come across as a “yes” man. However, being far-sighted and visionary can at times be a major handicap, as his books demonstrates.
Frequently up against entrenched views and coping with major challenges of individual and political self-interest, Howard Fisher reveals the less publicised side of public service, the many interesting characters met along the way, the pressing need to look at the long-term needs of our country and indeed of how to put Aberdeen and Grampian on the map.
Waterloo Sunset covers some of the most “depressing” years of Howard Fisher’s career with some of the “worst line managers”, yet encapsulates the joy and satisfaction to be found in public service.