After the fall of Amber Rudd, it was tempting and easy to jibe ‘greater love hath no woman than she takes the fall for her predecessor’. We all know who that was and, like all catchy lines, there is truth in it. But by far the bigger and more important issue is how to tackle the systemic dysfunctionality deeply embedded in the Home Office.

Sajid Javid has just shot up one of the biggest ladders on Westminster’s snakes and ladders board. He is staring massive opportunity or failure in the face. Can he turn around the reputation and competence of the department? Can he inspire and lift the morale of the many demoralised Home Office officials working for him?

Sajid is a sharp operator and has the courage to stand up and challenge assumptions and policies. His leadership qualities will now be tested like never before.

The fate of this government and his party hang in the balance. He could swing it either way. He could become the first BAME Tory leader and prime minister. He might plough it and be axed, like Charles Clarke and Jacqui Smith. Given the nature and challenges of the job, especially in this new very charged political atmosphere, a middle course of keeping head above water and surviving – in John Reid, Alan Johnson and Theresa May mode – is not an option.

If he is to succeed where charismatic big hitters and competent hard working predecessors alike all failed before him, what should he do? Here are some thoughts:

1. He should do the 21st century equivalent of Winston Churchill on first becoming political head of the Royal Navy: spend most of his first months out of Westminster experiencing his vast and diverse department and its key stakeholders first hand, bombarding everyone with questions and getting liked and respected for being an exceptional listener.

2. He should immediately appoint and task an independent red team audit of the leadership and policy making, delivery, and implementation processes across the department. Akin to air safety investigation after an airline crash, this team must be empowered to go anywhere, and speak to whoever they like. It should initially report to Sajid as he completes his own first few months out and about across his department.

3. From the outset he must demand a radical change of culture and approach from top to bottom. He should establish a zero tolerance approach to lack of integrity, decency, impartiality, and to low standards. Whistle blower and communication channels outside of the conventional management chain of commands must be established.

4. He should resist ‘same old’ short-term own political party pressures, as far as possible, in order to win the essential long-term turn around battle. To do this he should work with requisite select committees to address wider systemic failures within Parliament – Windrush cases were being raised by multiple MPs four plus years ago, yet nothing changed.

5. He should establish a strategic strategy and risk cell reporting directly to him on a weekly basis including updating top priorities and risks across all areas – a permanent check and balance to the formal official processes and hierarchy that have failed these last twelve plus years since John Reid’s ‘unfit for purpose’ commentary (of what was then a much bigger and more complex Home Office department of state).

Whitehall has long resisted calls for sensible radical change. Sajid has the golden opportunity to blaze a trail. Establishing a long-overdue Whitehall department ‘special measures’ equivalent to failing councils and schools is key to it all. The Whitehall antibodies will go into over-drive to kill this insurgent threat to their total control and ways of doing business.

Not long after the 2011 riots I took a team to Oliver Letwin in the Cabinet office. I had warned just before the riots in a think tank journal and in the Daily Telegraph that we could shortly encounter unprecedented disorder on our streets, that we could not man a Fukushima scale cordon and that our emergency services lacked the back-up and reserves to deal with a really big national emergency or multiple concurrent incidents.

The core of our argument was that Whitehall needed a cell that would do the ‘unthinkable thinking’ precisely of the sort that had found Japan – about the best prepared country in the world to deal with major disasters – so wanting at Fukishima. We called for a heavy weight proven head and team who could go anywhere across government and ‘red team’ assumptions and plans. The Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Unit – unsurprisingly – opposed the idea. Oliver Letwin concluded that we had made a good point. He promised to speak to the national security adviser and to the prime minister and get back to us. He never did.

Had we established that unthinkable thinking cell and independent red team audit back in 2011 as we recommended, I wonder how many Home Office and other Whitehall Department scandals might have been avoided? Perhaps Sajid you can now do us all a huge service and put in place these two common sense changes.

Finally, might this awful and extraordinary Windrush scandal deliver us the irony of national ID cards? It was Labour policy in 2009 but it was soon promptly dropped by the incoming coalition government. The ‘nasty party’ could not possibly be seen to be the ones to re-introduce ID cards.

But with two former Labour Home Secretaries now calling once again for their re-introduction and today’s Labour party at war with its own ‘truly nasty party’ powerful factions (antisemitic and extremist elements within) who knows, it just might happen.

Nigel Hall is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London