At the whim of our political masters

I like the DCLG and I like local government. But which is better? There's only one way to find out....


Sometimes we learn a new use for a word and then spend the next three weeks trying to find a use for it and sometimes it just falls into a our lap.

However, this time I heard the use at the weekend and by Monday had a reason to use it; this blog from the people at political scrapbook is delicious.

Basically, the bloggers at political scrapbook have taken Mr Pickles to task for his constant attack on local government non-jobs. Amongst their observations are:

Pickles’ glass-and-steel Department for Communities and Local Government employs no less than 2,100 staff, not one of which can be described as a front line role .

You see your attack on non-jobs Mr Pickles? Bang, have one back!

Other members of Pickle’s senior team include the Deputy Director for the Big Society, who adds value by “leading on the corporate secretariat and performance”.

Want to attack specific non-jobs in Manchester? Well, here have some of your own medicine!

Overall, Pickles has 111 Directors and Deputy Directors, all on £65K+ and many of them earning far more than the PM.

Overpaid Local Government fatcats eh? Well, let’s take your 111 senior managers and smoke it!

(apparently this number earning more than the PM is actually 2 so there was some editorialising going on here)

This is all fair game right?

As I see it the political scrapbook is just doing to the DCLG what the Department for Criticising Local Government has done to local councils up and down the country.

Just like the DCLG ministers the political scrapbook people have distorted some basic facts to make their point. Mr Pickles et al criticise local government staff and we fight back by picking on the civil servants at the DCLG.

All is fair in love and war right? Plus, he started it!?

Well, not quite…

However, I then got into a debate on twitter (it was a 140 character mini-debate) with a civil servant from the DCLG who I have never met. He felt genuinely put out. The DCLG are going through massive job losses (over 600 of the 2100) and he took genuine professional umbrage at the way his work was being misrepresented and mocked.

And he was right.

The political scrapbook WAS delicious but only in the context of the continuing back and forth between the DCLG and local government. We, the ordinary staff of local councils and government departments are, to a greater or lesser extent, just pawns in the games of our political masters.

Are Labour councils provoking the DCLG with their decisions? Possibly. Are the DCLG going overboard with the council criticism in order to make the public swallow massive cuts? Definitely. Are we, as local government officers or even civil servants, part of this? Nope.

So my apologies and sympathies to those members of the DCLG who feel put out by the political scrapbook and my reprinting of it above. I don’t believe that you are all employed in non-jobs any more than you believe that local government workers are all blood sucking slackers only waiting for our pension.

As the ever wise redundant public servant pointed out, sometimes we are all just victims caught in the crossfire of the war on the deficit. So let’s call a truce on attacking the public servants; we can leave that to David Cameron.

Oh yeah, and Eric Pickles is still wrong…

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3 Comments on “At the whim of our political masters”

  1. Ed Hammond Says:

    You’re not wrong. This is turning into a childish, tit-for-tat argument between central and local government where the hard facts are being ignored or spun out of recognition – by both “sides”.

    It’s impossible to have a serious debate on these issues at the moment because campaigners, the Government and other groups are looking for a simplistic narrative – either “Cuts are awful, Eric Pickles is a fat bully” or “It’s high time some of the public sector fat was trimmed – I PAY YOUR WAGES!”

    I don’t hold out much hope for an improvement as HMG and the TUC dig in for a protracted argument over the next few months.

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