Thursday, November 22, 2007

Paging Comrade Ken

I've been glancing around the blogs, along with the usual trawl of newspaper columnists, and I haven't found one anywhere that has attributed the latest data-loss fiasco to the following factors:
  • Constant urge to re-organise everything - a permanently disoriented bureaucracy, permanently focused upon self-preservation
  • Never-ending use of management consultants to draft re-organisation plans
  • Increased demands from a mobile population that expects greater levels of 'choice'
  • Inititivitis on the part of politicians - but no clearly stated long-term purpose
  • Lots of 'audit', no 'inspection'
  • A long-term collapse in the competence of public management
  • Lack of any real attempt to hold bureaucracy to account by journalists
  • Constant need to be seen to be cutting costs
  • Regular changes of direction as a result of press / pressure group action
  • Lack of a professional civil service
  • Demotivated employees - no-one working there who believes (rationally, it would seem) that hard work will result in a better outcome than box-ticking
Any explanation that I would frame (if I had a bit more time) would feature these points. I've found very little support for this elsewhere, though I have found an alternative explanation:

All civil servants are lazy cunts
(here - passim). Genius!

Oddly, I think that the only politician who has grasped the problems, and shown any competence in offering a solution is Ken Livingstone. Rather than re-write my arguments, I'm going to cut-and-paste from a post I wrote over at The Trots some time ago. It wasn't - for the most part - an endorsement. Quite the opposite. But there are things about Ken that one can't help being impressed by. I said....
"...once in office – he was able to demonstrate why risk-averse political parties are often incapable of the kind of change that the public want. Where Blairite daleks would have drowned Ken's transport measures in a soup of consultation and consensus, Ken got on with it.

He drove through potentially unpopular policies that had articulate media-backed opponents, and he gave Labour an object lesson in how the real 'forces of conservatism' should be handled. It was often a joy to watch him presenting the Tory press with a stiff middle-fingered salute.

And when People In Pubs talk about problems, they expect clear-cut solutions of the kind that Ken offers, and political parties don't. Where Whitehall is stuffed with ineffectual self-perpetuating Sir Humphreys for whom a problem solved is a job abolished, Ken appears to have surrounded himself by fellow travellers who share his ambitions.

It's easy to be cynical about can't-do politicians boxed-in by tottering complex problems and irreconcilable vested interests. But Ken is the antidote to this. Independent-minded conviction politicians like him are – more than any other device – the means by which politicians and voters can be reconnected."
If only Ken could drop his tipsy forays into gesture politics....

1 comment:

hakmao said...

Constant urge to re-organise everything - a permanently disoriented bureaucracy, permanently focused upon self-preservation.

Indeed. In my particular salt mine I have the distinction of being the only person (of seven) who is not a manager. The rest of them spend their time arse covering/kissing, or coming up with new names for the department or whatever other time-wasting activity will give the appearance of productivity - but not actually doing anything.