The cancer of management consulting and scabrous growth of something called 'HR' has corrupted and distorted the essential tenet that no one should go into public service expecting to get rich. A pretence that private and public are equivalent has seen greed and self-interest justify the most egregious misuse of public resources. We have seen police bosses struggling to justify officers' credit card bills in the millions of pounds for lingerie, flowers, booze, lavish meals in top restaurants, gifts, electronics, trainers, bling and all the expensive rubbish of conspicuous consumption at the taxpayers' expense. Senior police bosses are resigning in the dozens as gifts, hospitality and inducements from the sleazy and dodgy are revealed. That Paul Stephenson can even have considered a £15,000 gift of spa time as anything but improper and compromising his integrity speaks volumes about the way in which the requirement for personal probity and stewardship of the common weal has been eroded at the most senior levels.
And it's not only the top ranks of the police. Council and quango bosses such as the vile Andrea Hill formerly of Suffolk or the previous head of the Audit Commission typify the perverted sense of entitlement, narcissism, selfishness and avarice that seem to have become essential 'person requirements' for the top jobs in the public sector. And Parliament, the voice of the nation, has become emasculated, an object of derision and ridicule, and unable to comment and be heard, because our MPs have joined the troughing, abuse and abnegation of probity that characterises all the rest. The filth of unalloyed corruption from the exposure of Parliamentary 'expenses' will linger in the nostrils for many years to come.
And so today we have the spectacle of the soiled and befouled police bosses and the filthily corrupt political class flinging ordure at each other in a scatalogical dogfight. The poor domestic burglary victim must be wondering this morning how 1,600 looters can be arrested within 48 hours and some 800 brought to court within 72 hours when all he has to show for his ransacked and violated home is a crime number and the vague promise that someone from victim support will phone. Clearly, the police can solve crime when they put their minds to it. But then to be told that those who pay for the police can have no say in operational priorities adds insult to injury; it leaves the message that both the police and political class will deploy full resources to meet a challenge to the central State, but will not do so to better serve those who pay their wedge. And this, too, betokens a failure of stewardship. Despite Hugh Orde's distorted and perverse world view, the police are not the guardians of the monstrous State but the servants of the poor and law-abiding.
Those who come out well from all this, the inspectors, sergeants and police officers who have spent the past week on the streets, exhausted, bruised, and with aching feet and calves, have every right to feel aggrieved that their achievements are claimed by both sides in the scatalogical dogfight. No doubt as their silver-braided capos return to fine-dining and playing politics in the better Victoria restaurants at the taxpayer's expense ordinary plods will join the ordinary public in wondering how on earth we're going to sort this mess out.