True tales from Britain’s public sector (1)

by on June 15, 2017 in society

Your editor went for a job interview the other day – at a Higher Education public sector organisation which will remain nameless.

One of the interview questions was “what issues are facing the Higher Education sector at the moment”. The correct answer was “the funding crisis”.

Later (in fact at a second interview) he was sat down in the technical office and asked to complete a test. This started at about 3.25pm.

First of all a young woman glided in. She asked some people in the office if they had any returns to make (of some kind). “No”. She said she’d go and find some people who did. I may be reading too much into it but this had all the hallmarks of a “non-job”. (That is a job which generates no useful, productive, results at all).

Next; two staff in the office started discussing a technical task. It didn’t sound very complicated. It wasn’t very clear why it needed any discussion. One of them mentioned that someone had been sent “for training”.¬†After that these two staff pushed off. It must have been about 3.45 pm at the latest. (It was a Wednesday).

A small microcosm of life in the public sector.

In any other country it would be called corruption. But it is so prevalent that it is not seen as such.


There is a ‘political debate’ in this country about public sector spending. One side, driven by the Unions, tells us that there is a crisis of under-funding. The other side, the government, is making cuts in central government grants. Neither side is addressing the real problem – institutionalised graft and corruption. The Union narrative is not completely fake – if local authorities are cutting e.g. teaching assistants before addressing the over-spending on management functions then those people are really losing their jobs. The central government position of cutting the grants is not irrational. But – the government is not forcing local authorities to do anything about the corruption. In part because one of the principal beneficiaries of this kind of over-spending are the international corporations and large businesses whom they are committed to serving. The corruption is the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about it. Everyone is feeding off it.

Instead of talking about the corruption there is an entirely fake discourse about the necessity or not of the ‘austerity agenda’.

Lenin probably had the (only) answer to this – public officials should be elected, instantly recallable and paid no more than the average wage for a working man.


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