Writing this blog has taken me on quite a journey of discovery and increasing enlightenment. When I started I was angry and wanted to explain why I thought things were going wrong with the job. Then I started explaining what the job was about, and now I find myself embroiled in a battle to save the job from what I have come to understand is a neoliberal conspiracy to privatise every goddamn thing.
Whatever warm words Sadiq Khan may say on behalf of the Labour Party, in reality there's hardly a cig paper that can separate the whole grubby lot of 'em, Tories Lib Dems or Labour regarding the march towards privatising everything. Our sacred NHS is no longer safe and is being privatised, a dodgy US company now owns blood plasma provision, G4S are running childrens homes for goodness sake, and our national defence infrastructure is about to be sold off. Even the Yanks feel that's a step too far and have issued warnings FFS!
How can all this be happening, I naively ask myself, when we know the public hates the idea of privatising public services, and especially so if it results in shit companies running them? How is it that in a supposed democracy we do not have a political party that is reflective of the public's utter distaste for what is happening?
It strikes me that virtually every aspect of our national life is being marketised and we are sleep-walking towards disaster. It's no longer trite to suggest that our liberty will soon be affected, along with our health. The alarm bells have been ringing for some time concerning the privatised forensic science services and miscarriages of justice, and we know Chris Grayling would like to do the same with court administration.
This is all incredibly serious stuff and is inexorably changing the nature of our society. If we needed proof it comes in the form of Transparency International's recent worldwide survey that shows 65% of people in the UK feel corruption has increased in the last two years. No great surprise I suppose in the light of MP's fiddling expenses, journalists hacking phones and police officers selling information.
But it's much wider than all that and becoming utterly pervasive and corrosive. It's David Cameron refusing to acknowledge any connection with his Australian tobacco company adviser Lynton Crosby in No10 and a sudden change in government policy on plain cigarette packaging. It's Peers selling influence for cash and the tardiness of the Police to investigate allegations of historic sexual offending by public figures.
Then on top of all this we have scandals with hospital care, abuse in residential care and sheer incompetence by the regulator, all connected to the effects of political decisions on targets, cuts, reorganisations, shit wages and piss-poor training. No heads seem to roll, managers get promoted and others get paid off with vast golden goodbyes. No one seems to take responsibility, no ministers resign and enquiries typically kick everything in to the long grass.
If this is the context, what chance have we really got to row against this tide and preserve a sound, professional, ethical and well-performing public service? One thing I'm sure of is that we have a duty to do all we can both for the benefit of the public and our clients in the face of a tsunami of shit that seems to be enveloping our public life.
Taking strike action would be an honourable thing to do in my view, undertaken with a heavy heart of course, but I don't think history will reflect kindly upon us if we don't, however ill-conceived some may feel such action to be, such as ASPT Chair Joe Kuipers.
While I'm on a roll and before I finish this rant, I want to mention something else that really annoys me about all this and it's the crimes associated with language, whether through political correctness, cynicism, message management or just plain mischievousness. You know the sort of thing, bus fares don't go up, they are 'new fares'. New 'handy size' means smaller packet. Closure of a day centre suddenly facilitates personalised care packages, all this kind of cynical news management bollocks. It strikes me that the language crimes have to go hand in hand with the political actions.
This whole subject got an airing recently on a BBC blog highlighting the supposed politically correct, but in reality cynical language used in relation to the care of people with learning disability. A classic example being:-
One of the unit's ideas was that he should have a person-centred plan. He had to create a wish list, and came up with six things:
- Live at home with Dad
- Go on holiday to Somerset
- Have Christmas presents at home
- See Toy Story 3 at the cinema
- Have breakfast in the bacon shop
- Go swimming at Hampton open-air pool
Interestingly, according to this Independent article, the subject has been covered by a recent government report that seeks to ban the use of meaningless statements in government pronouncements:-
Jargon: What’s out
* Slimming down (processes don’t diet)
* Foster (unless it is children)
* Agenda (unless it is for a meeting)
* Commit/pledge (we’re either doing something or we’re not)
* Deliver (pizzas, post and services are delivered – not abstract concepts like ‘improvements’ or ‘priorities’)
* Deploy (unless it is military or software)
* Dialogue (we speak to people)
* Key (unless it unlocks something. A subject/thing isn’t ‘key’ – it’s probably ‘important’)
* Progress (as a verb – what are you actually doing?)
* Promote (unless you are talking about an ad campaign or some other marketing promotion)
* Strengthening (unless it’s strengthening bridges or other structures)
* Tackling (unless it is rugby, football or some other sport)
* Transforming (what are you actually doing to change it?)
* Going forward (unlikely we are giving travel directions)