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Posts Tagged ‘Responsibility’

The Civil Servant doth protest too much, methinks

October 16, 2018 Leave a comment

img_1583Hands up. I am one of the many. I think that May must go and that May must go now.

May must go before any last chance of an honest Brexit is destroyed and the UK is completely condemned to Remain in all but name.

It’s not personal. I don’t know her that way.

But this is not how a genuinely Conservative Prime Minister behaves.

This is certainly not the kind of Conservative Government that anyone who really cares about the future of this Country would knowingly vote for.

That said, I am under no illusion of the mechanics of how decisions at all levels of Government are actually made. There is a considerable team of politicians, advisors and civil servants or local government officers who have influence on – and therefore responsibility – for the choices, options and directions often presented as little more than fait accompli to the Political Leaders above them. Leaders who are also responsible, but the only ones who the Public will openly blame.

For those of us who know this and see the reality of how Government and the Public Sector works – up and down, Sir Mark Sedwill’s intervention in the form of an open letter to The Times today, attempting to distance the Civil Service from the chaos which Brexit has become, is both untimely and disingenuously made.

The inherent suggestion that Civil Servants only do what they are told, and carry out their instructions to the letter is at very best laughable. At worst, it demonstrates the farcical nature of an executive system that wants to dominate and exert its influence within every corner of Government and the Public Sector.

The executive or non-elected element happily takes credit in any way that it can when things are going well. But it seeks to distance itself and pass the buck to elected representatives just as soon as the self-serving, and self-aggrandised plans which have nothing about service to the Public at their core, go wrong and have the potential to wreck a gold-plated pension plan and the previously ‘clean’ CV.

It is a ‘Team May’ effort which has ‘live-time’ responsibility for the Brexit chaos. And within that ‘team’ there are many Civil Servants who share the responsibility for the perfect storm which is brewing, not all of which is itself is attributable to the actions of the current PM.

What’s worst about the role of the non-elected executive, is that for far too long culturally, the gift of being employed within roles which are blessed with misplaced impartiality, would normall leave any of them directly involved, immune from any form of punishment when anything decision making involving politicians goes tits up.

Brexit being the monumental clusterfuck that it has become, clearly doesn’t offer such levels of sanctuary. That is why we now have letters being published in newspapers from top Civil Servants which portray such ridiculous and pre-emptively pleading statements such as ‘It’s not my fault it all went wrong’.

 

image thanks to http://www.thetimes.co.uk / someone unidentifiable on the Net.

 

 

Rail fare hikes and tough talk on welfare waste: Today’s problems will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

January 2, 2013 2 comments

With a 4.2% average rise in ticket prices hitting rail commuters today, just how long do politicians think that rises in the cost of essential services, utilities and products will remain ‘sustainable’?

Stories such as this one and also the attack on welfare payouts by Iain Duncan Smith in just the past two days alone demonstrate just how little emphasis there really is in dealing with the root causes of problems, which may be unpalatable to those in power, but are nonetheless very real indeed.

As a businessman with both conservative and capitalist principles, I have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to be both enterprising and entrepreneurial throughout my career. However, I also learned very early on that there are basic laws at work within business, one of which is that costs will generally be fixed, but profit will always be variable.

Where this goes wrong in the economy is in situations where those in control of businesses are able to fix minimum profit margins and then seek the cost of investment and renewal through price hikes which usually only affect people and other businesses who themselves have no ability to raise their own incomes or margins to cover those very same costs.

Those reading this who have experience of the commercial sector in its broadest sense will know that the circumstances which generally allow this darker side of capitalism to thrive, only exist within monopolies or within industries which provide services or products which people must have; many of which were once in public hands.

The history which has given privately owned businesses the ability to dictate the ‘breadline’ or to become able to ‘profit in misery’ is a long one. Profligate spending by idealistic politicians who believe in the principle of something for nothing, simply created a situation which left others with a more realistic understanding of the way that an economy really works with little choice in the way they had to respond.

The age of privatisation was soon born and responsibility for its evolution cannot be levelled at the door of any one Conservative, Labour or Coalition Government, as all have played their part since the 1960’s.

What can equally be said is that no one person who can ask for the votes of many thousands of people, can reasonably expect to retain any sense of respect as an MP if they have accepted that responsibility and then failed both to recognise and then to act upon the damage and pain that such levels of power are causing in the wrong hands.

Yes we need travel fares that make a job worth travelling for. Yes we need reform of welfare, benefits and taxation so that there is an incentive for all to work and stay in this Country. Yes we need managed investment in just about every area of life and infrastructure that we could conceivably imagine.

But we also need Government which is responsible, confident in taking risks and ready to deliver reforms which may well include legislative restructuring of businesses offering essential services in order to limit what they actually make.

The failure of Government to ensure and safeguard basic costs for independent living is a root cause of many of today’s problems and will not simply be solved by continually taking more from pockets when there is even less to replace it.

Labour Council Leaders say Government cuts will lead to public unrest. But the days of passing the buck for a free Pound have long gone and all politicians must now accept that responsibility has consequences

December 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Some Conservative Councillors will quietly sympathise with the difficult decisions being made within almost every local authority in the Country as the result of continuing budget cuts. But that’s precisely where any similarity in view will end with the content tabled in a joint letter to the Observer by the Labour Leaders of Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield Councils, suggesting that cuts in local government grants will break up society.

Look at our Country today and it is easy to see that we are already living within a divided society that is split by divisions which go way beyond simple demographics, political bias or the slashing of public services at just one level of Government.

These are problems that are far more serious than any senior politician on any side seems willing to address in any meaningful way. And the reality is that the demise of local authority structures and the seemingly endless range of services that they were once able to provide are only being accelerated by the ‘age of austerity’, and not caused by it as this document would apparently have us believe.

There is in fact significant irony that local authorities are also the victim of the philosophy and actions of the very movements and people who are so eloquently attempting to place blame on the Coalition Government today, for problems which have actually been a long time in the making within a system which has only been sustainable because of what must have seemed like a guaranteed bottom line to a generation of politicians who believe that idealism can be delivered without any thought for practicalities.

In just one respect alone, I found myself completely horrified when I first learned of the gargantuan percentages of Council Tax which go directly into the gold-plated Local Government Pension Scheme. Similar ideology has been rampant within local government decision making throughout living memory and any commercial business run with such an extraordinary emphasis on funding employees and their benefits would be as viable as its existence within in a competitive market.

I have little doubt that just these funds alone being made available for the purpose which the Taxpayer has the right to expect, coupled with the real reforms that every part of Government now requires, would deliver a significantly positive effect on what is today a very gloomy picture indeed for locally-funded public services.

Government and non-Government organisations of all types have for too long been insulated against the real world realities of profit and loss by protectionist culture; by the political correctness of socialist job creation; and by a guaranteed level of income which has now unceremoniously come to an end.

It’s time that everyone in positions of responsibility within all tiers of Government began being responsible, rather than looking elsewhere and expecting someone else to pick up the pieces or to pay the bills with a non-existent stream of infinite credit.

Political idealism is as ideal as it is practical. Politicians from all sides now have to accept and work with this reality. Otherwise, a new reality will continue to write itself which will go way beyond the fallout from wasting opportunities for change and from a failure to take full responsibility within local government.

The days of passing the buck and expecting a free Pound in return have long gone and all politicians must now accept that responsibility has consequences.

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