Saturday, April 26, 2008

Public servants

In reply to a comment on this post about the police, your humble Devil has just left this comment. [Edited for relevance.]
I am also aware that many policemen—I am prepared to believe that it is the vast majority, in fact—are decent people trying to do a good job in difficult circumstances.

However, many of your leaders are authoritarian cunts who—if they aren't actively lobbying the government for more powers—are busy over-enthusiastically enforcing some of the ones that they already have. And most people's perception is that those laws that they are enforcing are not the important ones.

The police have lost the support of the people: they are now seen as agents of the state, not the upholders of the law and protectors of the citizens that Robert Peel urged them to be.

Whether or not this perception is true is irrelevant: the fact that I can write something like the above and have the vast majority agree with me shows that the police have failed in their duty.

I post this because it is also relevant to this post and Martin's excellent post, about the teaching profession. Indeed, the general aura of the comment applies to all so-called public servants: the police, firemen, teachers, doctors, nurses and civil servants.

All of the above professions used to be known as public servants and the public were willing to support those working in these areas because they believed that these people were exactly that: servants, working for the benefit of society as a whole.

Whether this perception was strictly true in terms of outcomes is, at this point, irrelevant: it is the attitude of those who pay the wages of these professions that is important. Because part of the problem—and it is manifest in the distinct draining away of support for teachers, policemen, etc. in recent decades—is that there is a distinct attitude amongst the public that these are no longer public servants, but state servants.

And these state servants constantly moan and whine about how their jobs are being made worse by government; how they are unable to protect the people, or teach the children, or cure the sick, because of government regulations. But many of the representative bodies of these professions are actively lobbying for more powers over those that they should serve—longer detention without charge, more bans on alcohol and cigarettes, etc.—and the only time that they stand up and make a fuss is when they are hit in the pocket.

Well fuck the lot of you: we, the people, are no longer prepared to prop up your financial ambitions. And this is because you no longer do the jobs that you should; we, the taxpayers, who are your ultimate employers, no onger believe that we are getting value for money. We would like to sack you all and start again—for the whole system is rotten—and we are certainly not minded to support your bid for massive amounts of money when we ourselves are struggling.

All of this, of course, has happened because it is painfully obvious that the state is no longer the servant of the people, or even the protector of their rights. I delibertaely did not include MPs in the list of public servants because they are, to an extent, the source of the problem, the evil cunts. We all know that they are the scum of the earth—power-hungry, vain, ugly-souled, selfish, vicious, dishonest, venal, lying, cunting sacks of shit—so it hardly seems worth pointing out that they lost the support of the citizenry many, many years ago.

The state is now the enslaver of the citizens, the authoritarian destroyer of ancient freedoms and, in any case, only ever the official servants of 21.6% of the electorate.

This won't change under the Tories either, a party that may or may not lower taxes but is highly unlikely to be any more socially liberal than NuLabour. We have little choice: would you like sanctimonious left-wing authoritarianism or sanctimonious right-wing authoritarianism? What a poor excuse for a country we have become.

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.

Believe me, I do.


Budgie said...

DK said:
"And this is because you no longer do the jobs that you should ... we are certainly not minded to support your bid for massive amounts of money when we ourselves are struggling"

A wonderful post - well said, DK.

My advice for parents of young children: don't rely on teachers to teach reading, writing or the times tables.

And be prepared for comments such "he doesn't need to learn his times tables because we have calculators now" or criticisms that "your child reads with phonic attack".

the A&E Charge Nurse said...

Devil - which group of private sector workers exhibit the sort of characteristics you so clearly yearn for ?

I'm not sure that such workers actually exist, even when free of government inteference, given that you expect them to be:
*highly motivated.
*highly competent
*customer centred.
*modestly paid.
*willing to accept the sack at the drop of a hat.
*not too concerned about holidays/pensions.
*able to provide a service to customers with
mental problems, addictions, convictions for
violence, etc.

Shellys poem alludes to the inevitable collapse of ALL social structures (eventually) - we are seeing it with health at the moment, and I fully expect a second 'dentist', in other words just because something is problematic it doesn't mean that the alternative (even when provided by the fatcats) is going to be an automatic improvement.

Devil's Kitchen said...


I know that this may come as a surprise to you, but many of us in the private sector are highly motivated, highly competent, customer centred, have modest holidays (standard of 20 days plus bank holidays every year), don't get company pensions, willingly acceot the sack at the drop of a hat (or, rather, if we do not or cannot do our job properly) and are modestly paid (the median public sector wage is now higher than the median private sector wage).

Strangely, some of us also provide services to customers with
mental problems, addictions, convictions for violence, etc.

And I am not asking public sector workers to be selfless: what I am asking is that, when they go on strike for pay and attempt to excuse their failings by blaming government initiatives, that they shouldn't be hurt or surprised when the general public treat them with contempt.


the A&E Charge Nurse said...

Accepted Devil - but to restate the question, which GROUP (of non-state workers) most closely resembles the ideal you are calling for ?

Clearly it's not the money loving teachers, in fact, I'm suprised Martin stops short of insisting on public stonings for one or two of them (in his "excellent" post), it's not the cops, neither is it the nurses, etc, so which group is it ?

Incidentally a number of polls suggest that Journalists, estate agents and salesmen (professions with far fewer state imposed constraints) all fare less well in the mind of the public have when it comes to perceptions of 'trust' - conversely teacher and nurses, tend to come out near the top.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Private sector workers, by definition, are not public servants, so none. Further, it doesn't matter because we are not forced to pay the wages of those in the private sector.

It is really the system that I am criticising, A&E; none of these groups (with the possible exception of the police and civil servants) should be "public servants" anyway -- precisely because most people are not suited to it (which is, I think, the point that you are trying to make).


Andy said...

I think the armed forces fall neatly into most of the categories:

*highly motivated -
*highly competent
*customer centred.
*modestly paid.
*willing to accept the sack at the drop of a hat.
*not too concerned about holidays/pensions.
*able to provide a service to customers with
mental problems, addictions, convictions for
violence, etc. - for this, in relation to the armed forces customers are mostly armed with AK-47s and RPGs, with the usual smattering of roadside bombs.

Anonymous said...

"The police have lost the support of the people: they are now seen as agents of the state,"

This is also thought by every retired policeman I've met.

Budgie said...

Private sector teachers do better than state employed teachers with the same type of pupils.

Times report of a study by Professor David Jesson of York University: "In fact, of the 37,500 children in the top 5 per cent [the brightest children when tested at 11], 30,000 went on to state secondaries and 7,500 were educated privately. By the age 16, all 7,500 in fee-paying schools had achieved at least five GCSE grades A* or A. But only 20,000 of the original cohort in state schools reached this standard." Quoted by James Bartholomew (The Welfare State We're In).

the A&E Charge Nurse said...

Budgie - a flawed premise, surely (Jessons study).

Judging the privates against marxists, sorry, state teachers gives us only limited information until we can compare like with like.

For example, 50% of teachers from state schools should have been assigned to a private school, while 50% of the privates should have been assigned to a state school - matching the variables in each cohort as far as possible, for example length of teaching experience, gender, subjects taught, etc.

Comparing 'performance' (assuming you are only interested in exam results) might then have made more sense.

You have to be cautious (when analysing research)about the weight that can be attached to numbers alone - that's one theme that occurs time and again after medical studies, I'm sure education is no different.

Budgie said...

What we are comparing are the two different systems: State or Private with the same input. Thee quote was an overview, if you like, but a statement of fact.

For a system comparison it would defeat the object to swap 50% of the teachers around - no-one would watch a football match or a Formula One race where 50% of the teams had to swap places. Nor was it a trial of a medical procedure.

Indeed, there could be a myriad of reasons cited for the differing results, not just the teachers. Since the blog was about the poor performance and attitude of State workers what is crucial to note is the fact of the difference.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Yes, but differences are bound to be INFLUENCED by class size, percentage of children who are 'statemented', language barriers, social milieu, etc.

In short a typical (state) secondary school teacher, has far more to contend with (within the overall pupil population) than the more exclusive and self-selecting privates.

JuliaM said...

"I am also aware that many policemen—I am prepared to believe that it is the vast majority, in fact—are decent people trying to do a good job in difficult circumstances."

Interestingly, I just read this on the BBC News site:

So far so 'funny', but this bit struck me:

"He was warned that he had to turn the saw off but allowed to continue to the party.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: "He was warned about his actions and told he faced arrest or a fixed penalty notice if he did not turn the saw off."

So, it was perfectly legitimate for him to dress up (unless the NuLab cockstains have passed a 'no fancy dress in the street' law while I wasn't looking), his costume was totally harmless but he was 'warned and threatened with a FPN' anyway!

Pity he didn't treat them with the same contempt they apparently treat the contract between police and public, and take his chances with a magistrates court!

Devil's Kitchen said...


I would suggest that you are correct in that it is the attitude of the pupils which is important in private schools, i.e. they are there to learn and, amongst other things, they feel a responsibility to their parents.

As I have often argued, once this attitude is in place, and you have streaming for ability, class sizes are an utter irrelevance.


Anonymous said...

Oh do fuck off, Devil. I suppose you are able to write us all off as "Bastards" in the same way that we are able to form an opinion about someone who has the onerous job of drawing pictures for a living and spends his spare time gashed on disco-biscuits. Oh golly lawks,yes, those are exactly the type of people we need to tell us what our fucking job is :rolleyes:. Maybe it's the chemicals that have caused such an imbalance in your massive intellect that render you incapable of putting forward a coherent argument. So we aren't enforcing the important laws, then? What the fuck are you talking about you drug addled zombie? I am guessing that you have managed to rouse yourself from a catatonic state long enough to grasp that the country is experiencing the worst prison crisis in its history. What are we saying here? That these people have been flinging themselves at the prison gates just demanding to do a stretch? Or that only a tiny few of inmates are real crimmies and the rest are poor unfortunates who just happen to have committed trivial offences which shouldn't even be on the statue books? Perhaps this is what vexes you so much, Devil, an irrational fear that bed-wetting will be made a criminal offence and you will therefore have to spend the rest of your life in pokie? The reality is that the prisons are bursting because we are locking up more hardened crimmies.

We have half the population whinging we are "authoritarian cunts" and the other half moaning that we are Guardian reading namby-pambies. Which is it? What exactly do you want us to fucking do? Stop enforcing the laws that you break and just get the other wrong'uns, I suppose? In case it had escaped your attention number 5 of Peel's principles states:
"Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law."
If you can lay off the gear long enough, try and grasp that we don't write the twatting laws and in fact are probably more racked off than anybody else with the mindless and illiberal dreck we are DUTY BOUND to enforce.

So, being lumbered with the bloated and futile statute book that we have, we have little choice but to enforce it. The day the police start picking and choosing which offences they will enforce is the day you really need to start shitting yourselves. If "the vast majority" of people agree with your views then could they do the decent thing and stop voting for the fuckwits in government or, better still, stop voting entirely until we have a political party worth voting for.
Yes, we could demand the right to strike if the state don't start cutting back on the paperwork we have to fill in...but then we will have to listen to Guardian readers whining about us trying to avoid accountability.

As far as I am concerned if you ain't harming/threatening anyone else or infringing on their property rights then you should be able to do and say what the fuck you want. Sadly the politicians don't agree and it's them calling the shots.

Your assertion that we are unaccountable is also utter bollocks. My conditions of service place serious restrictions on what I can and can't do. I can be asked to piss in a bottle at any time (bet that send's a shudder down your jelly spine), if I fuck up then the inquiry can be held in a public hearing. If I am subject of a complaint then I don't have the ability, as most people outside the public sector do, to just close their account and tell them to fuck off.

Anyway, I'll leave you with your crayons to get on with your drawings, petal,if you leave me to get on with dealing with the child abusers and thieving scum out there.

Anonymous said...

I can be asked to piss in a bottle at any time (bet that send's a shudder down your jelly spine)