politics, protest

91000 Civil Service Job Cuts

I have a theory. If you want to make a case for outsourcing a public service, the first thing to do is to make the existing in-house service so inefficient that it can barely function. And then blame it on staff-underperformance. Even if you are the minister in charge of running the service.

Photo by Dominika Greguu0161ovu00e1 on Pexels.com

For me the obvious example is the Land Registry which, 20 years ago, provided the gold-standard in public service. Now, any registration application which I make seems to disappear into a bottomless pit. I can’t remember the last time I logged on to the Land Registry Portal, and found that something had been completed. Now we’re hearing it again with the Passport Service and the DVLA. You can cut staff posts, but the work itself still has to be done.

So what are you going to do? Outsource bits to a low-wage economy? Is that going to improve customer-satisfaction. No – you can’t blame it all on covid.

If you want to make an in-house service so inefficient that it can barely function, there are several ways of doing this. Here they are:

  1. Impose a top-heavy management structure. The appointees to these golden posts must not have any operational responsibility. It must be pure management.
  2. Change the ethos of the organisation from one which is customer-focused to something inward-facing, where more time is spent talking about the work instead of actually doing it. Introduce endless reorganisations, where staff spend time re-applying for their own jobs instead of just getting on with it. Invent other distractions such as bonding sessions with flip charts and sticky labels.
  3. Further demoralise permanent staff by appointing some highly-paid consultants to oversee these endless reorganisations. The main qualification for such consultant-appointments should be that they have some personal connection with the minister in charge of the service.
London, peoples vote, politics, protest

For Whom Should I Vote? 2022 Local Election

My postal vote has arrived. My pencil hovers over the ballot paper in front of me. There are a dozen candidates but, apart from the political parties they represent, I do not know anything about any of them. So I might as well be picking a horse. As someone who prefers to back outsiders instead of putting money on the favourite, my horses seldom come in. I have only received one campaign leaflet. The faces of three candidates smile out at me. So maybe I should vote for them. But I’m not impressed by the text. It’s not just the typos. More that it looks cut-and-pasted from something else. Why does it talk about saving me dollars instead of pounds?

Law, politics, Uncategorized, women

Prince Andrew’s Jury Trial

Whilst I welcome the opportunity which Prince Andrew has to a jury trial in relation to the allegations against him, I regret the fact that civil litigants in the UK are denied that same right. When I began my legal career back in the early 1970s around 3% of civil high court trials took place with the jury, mainly, but not exclusively where the allegations were ones of defamation. Now that has all gone. The reason why judges and politicians dislike the jury system is that it introduces the human concept of right and wrong into what would otherwise be the dry application of abstract law to a set of facts. In other words, it gives citizens too much power in the judicial system. The landmark case which abolished juries in civil cases was the Court of Appeal decision in Ward v James 1966. However Ward v James was primarily concerned only with personal injury claims in which there was little factual dispute. Only whether there was liability and, if so, how much damages should be awarded. But Denning also said, “Let it not be supposed that this court is in any way opposed to trial by jury. It has been the bulwark of our liberties for too long for any of us to seek to alter it. Whenever a man is on trial for a serious crime, or when in a civil case a man’s integrity is at stake or where one or other party must be lying, then a trial by jury has no equal”.

Brexit, business, career, interview, jobs, politics, self improvement

How Brexit Affects Your Job Application

‘Brexit’ is the biggest challenge affecting the whole of British industry. ‘Brexit’ is an abbreviation for Britain’s intended exit from the European Union on 29 March 2019. With barely four months to go that deadline (as at the date this chapter was written), no agreement has yet been reached between Britain and other members of the EU as to what might happen on 30 March 2019, once Brexit has taken effect. Even Theresa May’s Conservative Administration cannot reach agreement between itself as to what it wants from Brexit. And the position of the Labour opposition is no more certain.
It is British industry which is most at risk from Brexit uncertainty. Will there be border controls? Will British industry still be able to export goods and services to Europe – or to anyone? How will Brexit affect industry’s ability to import the raw materials it needs to function? How will British industry be able to recruit staff from abroad? How did Britain even get itself into this mess? Let’s look at the history.
Former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had acquired a reputation for winning referenda. On 7 May 2011 he’d kicked his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, into touch when he defeated them in the referendum on voting reform. Three years later he saw off the threatened breakup of the United Kingdom when he scored decisively against Alex Salmond’s Scottish Nationalists in the 18 September 2014 Scottish Referendum. Now it was time to bulldoze Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
The party was formed at the beginning of the 1990’s with the single aim of forcing a national referendum on a proposal to take Britain out of the European Union, of which it had been a member since 1 January 1973. There had been a previous referendum commissioned by the Wilson Labour Government on 5 June 1975, when by a large majority the UK electorate voted to remain in what was then the European Common Market. But ever since Britain signed the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, bringing closer union between the member states, there was a growing body of political opinion against Britain remaining in the EU.
From their very beginnings both UKIP and James Goldsmith‘s ‘Referendum Party’ (which had similar aims) became a thorn for the Conservatives, not only because they were stealing votes from disaffected Tories but also by triggering an ideological split within the Conservative Party itself. That problem intensified in 2006 when the charismatic Nigel Farage took charge of UKIP. It was no longer just a single issue party, it became a personality cult and a credible fourth party, winning seats as well as votes.
Cameron responded by giving UKIP the referendum they demanded. Once that referendum had been lost, UKIP would be a spent force and he could get on with the business of being Prime Minister. But things did not go entirely to plan.
Like the 2011 referendum on voting reform and the 2014 Scottish Referendum, everything was going Cameron’s way. Business leaders supported him. Opinion polls showed a decisive lead for ‘remain’. Even Barak Obama had said that if Britain voted ‘leave’ it would be ‘back of the queue’ when it came to a future trade deal with the United States.
I thought I’d mis-heard when at 5am on Friday 24 June 2016 a radio news bulletin announced that ‘leave’ was leading the poll. That can’t be right. It was supposed to be ‘remain’. But that result was confirmed when I watched it on BBC Breakfast. The problem was that nobody had anticipated a ‘leave’ win. Worse still, no-one had worked out how a ‘leave’ win could even be implemented. Not even the ‘Brexiteers.’ It was all hot air. Big talk with nothing behind it. Two years on and still nobody has worked it out. So why am I telling you this? What has Brexit got to do with your job application?
Just this. If you have been invited to interview, you need to know everything about the company and the industry or market within which it operates. If you don’t take the trouble to do this, another candidate will pip you to the post. Brexit is just one example of an issue which will affect every prospective employer in different ways. Think about how it will affect the job you are applying for. You might even be asked a question on it. But even if you aren’t asked about it, the issue will set you on a train of thought in which you look at the world through the eyes of that company. What other industrywide issues or challenges is that company likely to face in the short to medium term and what options are open to it?

Brexit, London, march, peoples vote, politics, protest, remainer, Uncategorized


I’ve just come back from the Peoples Vote March against Britain leaving the European Union. Almost 700,000 people attended the march – which walked from Hyde Park to Parliament Square. Even the sun came out to support us.

Being there just felt so right. Whatever happens I’ll have no regrets about that. It was a privilege to stand up and be counted.

Brexit? What’s that all about? Even the name sounds stupid!