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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Cost of 'Modernisation' will be borne by us all

The programme of 'Modernisation' across the public sector implemented as a consequence of a now discredited management fad termed 'The New Public Management' - a thing based on targets, benchmarks, performance indicators and all the dross manufactured by the deservedly dead Audit Commission - is itself a thing of the nineties, highly Blairite, Statist, centralist and freakish. One telling feature is the architecture of the office. Across the public sector, cellular managers' offices, senior management suites, boardrooms and haphazard team clusters have been remodelled into a single, standard, homogeneous office and organisational layout that you will find everywhere from Transport for London's offices at Waterloo to Pickles' Victoria HQ to the council offices in Leeds. 

Large, open floors are equipped with ranks of desks perpendicular to the external glazing. There are 'break out areas', 'touch down areas', 'hot desking' and little glass pods in which staff undergoing disciplinary action may be viewed by their colleagues. Senior managers must pretend they're happy using the same impermanent 'workstation' as their lowliest clerks. No-one is permitted to accumulate more than a square foot of paper, and as no-one 'owns' their own desk, the photo of the kids and the potted cactus together with the tray of papers must be set up anew each day at a different workstation. Staff designated 'back office' by the Gershon rules have become a sort of leper, shunned by 'front office' staff in case their redundancy is contagious. Of course, the senior managers have had to be heavily bribed with disproportionate salary increases to endure such conditions, the cost in many cases far outweighing any efficiencies that may have been achieved. 

The aim, of course, is to turn the public sector into the sort of effective, responsive, front-facing organisations we have become used to in eBay, Amazon, ISPs, banks and utility companies; in other words, uncontactable, impersonal, anonymous and loathed, whilst pumping out a relentless propaganda about what a splendid job they're doing. If you're amongst the 95% whose transactions run smoothly, fine; if you're the one in twenty who has a problem, be prepared for call centre Hell.  

And if the result isn't wholly in the interests of the public, neither is it appreciated by staff. The most recent available staff poll at HMRC shows that 90% of staff think it's now a lousy place to work, with 25% wanting to leave within a year; 91%  think Modernisation is a crock of shit, 88% think they're not well managed and over 7,000 report being bullied or harassed. 

The management consultants responsible for all this - yes, the PwCs and  KPMGs, Ernst & Youngs and Deloittes, who had such a cosy meeting of minds with the Audit Commission - will no doubt be throwing eachother high-fives with skinny lattes on the firm at the news. Just a few more years and they will have succeeded in subjecting the entire population to the sort of homogeneous corporate Hell until now reserved for customers of private sector corporations. Welcome to the future. 

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

UK Executions

'Beware of what you wish for' has ever been wise advise. The government's plan to re-open petitions on the Downing Street website, with a commitment to allowing Parliamentary time for debate, potentially as either a government or private member's Bill, seems like good democracy at first sight. But imagine this.

Jihadist terrorists detonate an ANFO truck-bomb in Paddington. Amongst the 200-odd fatalities are an entire primary school class of 35 children. An online petition to Downing Street to restore capital punishment for terrorist murders rapidly gathers 12m signatures, and MPs, stunned and cowed by the depth of public reaction, pass an Act restoring the death penalty, effective for all new convictions even if the crimes were committed before the legislative date. The six Pakistani and Somali Jihadists convicted of the Paddington bombings are held in Belmarsh whilst their appeals are quickly exhausted. Balfour Beatty quietly build a new execution shed at the prison, and Britain's first Hangman for forty years, recruited by the Home Office, tests the drop. Between seven and nine on a Friday morning, the six terrorists are hanged. Their cremated remains are scattered within the prison. 

By Friday evening, news is in that a British honeymoon couple in Jakarta have been kidnapped and hanged from a roadbridge. A British aid worker in Pakistan is shot. A bomb is detonated at the embassy in Yemen. Al-Jazeera broadcasts features on the Jihadist Martyrs almost constantly. The headline 'UK Executions' features on the strap lines of newspapers across the world; suddenly, we're in a new phase of conflict. In Leeds, three young female jihadists carefully strap their suicide vests under their Hijabs and prepare to catch a bus into the city centre. 

Monday, 27 December 2010

The Hidden Hun

Google Streetview has just gone live in Germany - but not before the Hun insisted that not only were faces and numberplates blurred out, but 245,000 entire houses whose owners objected to them being pictured. 

It can't be long before the first British MP seeks to claim the same anonymity for their 'second' home ...

The meaning of Wealth (II)

Socialism and Anglicanism should not be natural bedfellows. The church should oppose every intrusion of Socialism into the lives of the people; indeed, in this respect, many good atheists hold fast to great truths that appear to elude the Archdruid of Canterbury and his like; that we have a shared moral duty and responsibility to the poor does not equate to the right of the State to take riches from those that have them and give to those who have not. Indeed, I can't get a fag paper between the views of many good Libertarian atheists and those expressed by Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum;
The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them. But the rulers of the commonwealth must go no further; here, nature bids them stop. Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State; for it has the same source as human life itself. "The child belongs to the father," and is, as it were, the continuation of the father's personality; and speaking strictly, the child takes its place in civil society, not of its own right, but in its quality as member of the family in which it is born. And for the very reason that "the child belongs to the father" it is, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, "before it attains the use of free will, under the power and the charge of its parents." The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home.
The main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property. This being established, we proceed to show where the remedy sought for must be found.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The meaning of Wealth

The Archdruid of Canterbury delivered his usual dose of unschooled Socialist twaddle this year in saying "That confidence isn't in huge supply at the moment, given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load. If we are ready, if we are all ready, to meet the challenge represented by the language of the 'big society', we may yet restore some mutual trust."

You see, his use of the word 'prosperous' rather than the word 'wealthy' is telling. Prosperity means only financial satiety, means only gold, and this is the fallacy of the left, that everything is about money and how it should be taken from its owners and shared out by an overweaning State. The Archdruid is firmly fixed in this firmament, but perhaps some time over Christmas he may find time to look into the many 14th century works available to him at Lambeth Palace. 

Wealth doesn't mean the same thing as prosperity. The Middle English 'wele' gave us 'weal' or 'wealth' (say it wee-alth) and it means well-being, happiness, contentment, fulfilment. The Commonweal or Commonwealth doesn't mean a Socialist Statedom in which all possessions are held in common, but the well-being of all. Trust between the fractured elements of our broken society won't be healed by redistributing money, but by recognising that the bane of selfishness and self-obsession is always self-harming, that it diminishes our weal.

And the beginning of this is to recognise the 'we' in 'weal'; that we are one-nation, one sceptered isle, and must work together to defeat the twin evils of Socialism and Corporatism (oh yes, the global corporations, trans-national banks and massive impersonal conglomerates are as truly evil as any thieving Socialist). The answer lies in man, not in Mammon.  

With deep thanks for your many kind comments and wishing you all health and weal this Christmastide.