There’s been a profound and disproportionate shift in power away from adult forms of authority to ’empowerment’, the sector buzzword for allowing youngsters to live pretty much as they wish irrespective of the objective damage they are doing to themselves. — “Winston Smith,” Generation F
Kids have to be bribed outrageously to do even the most mundane of tasks. This is known as ‘Rewarding Achievement’ and enables the SMT (School Management Team) to tick another government box. — “Frank Chalk,” It’s Your Time You’re Wasting
The British public sector is predicated on waste. This elemental force takes differing forms, including over-tiered management exacerbated by deliberate mismanagement, intentional financial profligacy, unnecessary performance auditing, hyper-bureaucracy and, most importantly, a change in status of those who are supposed to be receiving services from this sector. Empowerment sounds good, but don’t be fooled by a word.
Government employees now total around 17% of the British national workforce, and when you factor in private companies to whom the government outsources services — and I’ve worked for them — you are ever more likely to meet someone of working age in Britain who either directly or effectively works for the government. However, the phrase “government employee” is unfairly misleading. It conjures up an image of a cheap-suited clod pushing pens and paperclips around his desk in some dull quest for meaning. But government employees include nurses, soldiers, teachers, police officers, street sweepers, parole officers, and the majority of public sector employees work in health and education. The public sector is supposed to, and in many cases does, provide services which are essential to any country that wishes to be healthy, educated, well-defended at both the national and societal level, clean, and efficient. The public sector is also a major weapon in the Left’s war on Britain.
Read all the newspapers you like in the United Kingdom, watch the BBC all day and night, and you will get the firm impression that the public sector are struggling heroes betrayed by the austerity of the evil Tories (who are about as conservative as Pete Buttigieg). No, you have to go to minor online publishers to find whistleblowers on what — the grooming gangs notwithstanding — is Britain’s greatest hidden scandal: the utter and engineered failure of the public sector.
One of the things that most concern globalists is the rise of the citizen journalist, and not just the ones dodging about at riots with their cellphones or reporting on police incompetence and brutality via their YoyTube channels. There exists a small series of books, by rather a samizdat publisher, which gives a landscape of the British public sector that all the BBC documentaries and Telegraph leads in the country won’t give you.
Monday Books are — or were — a small publisher of first-person accounts of working lives lived in various professions. I found three of their titles in the dusty archives of my Kindle library, bought over a decade ago, doubtless on the advice of some like-minded blogger. How prophetic they seem now. Monday Books’ website is rather forlorn and doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2017, a couple of years after I bought the three e-books I am going to consider here and which contributed to my knowledge of waste in the public sector. Two of them even have the word “wasting” in their titles.
PC David Copperfield is the Dickensian pseudonym of the author of Wasting Police Time, an account of the working life of a British policeman at the bottom of the chain of command. Frank Chalk is the preferred nom de plume of a British teacher in an average secondary school (high school). Their accounts make for desperation and humor in equal amounts, and this parity is a large part of their charm.
The third book may well be singularly British. Obviously America has its police officers and teachers, but I know a lot less about social services in the States. Britain has an extensive network of social care, and Generation F by “Winston Smith” gives a fairly horrifying glimpse into the netherworld of assisted housing and social support workers. It is a sad indictment of the system that all three books — and others on Monday Books’ small roster — are pseudonymous.
Monday Books have another common — and very British — thread other than being the anatomy of a failed technocratic system, and that is the ability of the three authors to find time to laugh at that system, and even with it. Laughter under pressure is a mark of dignity, and it shines out from this reportage.
Because that is what this is, this genre of the pseudonymous whistleblower. Establishment journalists won’t be going out any time soon to report at ground level that progressive ideas are crippling the public sector, and so we rely on amateur enthusiasts too frightened of losing their jobs to dare to write under their own names. PC Copperfield was in fact “outed,” enjoyed a minor career in the media, and was last heard of working for the Edmonton police in Canada.
The apparatus by which Britain’s public sector is made as wasteful and counterproductive as the Leftist deep state can possibly make it comprises parts that interlink. The main element is the empowerment of the individual against necessary authority. So, schoolchildren face no real level of effective discipline in the classroom; criminals are protected by duty of care laws and can, for example, sue if they are injured trying to break out of prison; and individuals who should be humble and grateful that they are given free housing and, effectively, a staff of menials treat that staff with arrogant, sneering contempt. Welcome to the British public sector.
Copperfield notes that the majority of police officers are based in the office, contrary to the original point of policing, which was to act as a deterrent to criminals and to visibly protect the public. “Those of us who do occasionally leave the nick [English slang for police station] are back as soon as we’ve arrested anyone to spend the next six hours filling in forms,” he writes. Copperfield also offers a neat synopsis of the mechanics of wasted time resources:
Millions of pounds and thousands of man-hours go on coming up with innumerable policy documents, plans to cover every eventuality and a so-called audit trail, so that every last detail of force performance can be monitored by central government.
This is government by panopticon, an all-seeing central eye more concerned with the accuracy of its vision than the purpose of what it is observing so minutely. It’s a common theme running through all three books: the presence of administration and observation at the expense of each of the writers’ real-world requirements. Winston Smith describes a conversation with his manager, who is not happy about the fact Winston called the police to attend a situation involving a violent tenant because he would have to explain that on his report to OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, the watchdog of British education). Winston draws the only conclusion he can:
Obviously, the issue here is how this all fits in to the existing bureaucratic templates and the reaction of the State Inspectorate, not how we control this boy and make sure he cannot hurt others.
The public sector is concerned not with order but with auditing, and any bureaucratic ritual will do to avoid engaging in the work of running a particular wing of the public sector. Frank Chalk gives a synopsis of his sector’s failings:
The lack of ability of those in charge to get a grip on a situation, and to take immediate, decisive action, rather than simply debate everything endlessly is one of the major problems in the State education system.
o human resources and money are being wasted, but perhaps the worst aspect of the British public sector is how it wastes time. As Napoleon is reputed to have said, lost ground can be recovered, lost time never. It is desperate to read of Frank Chalk’s attempts to get a class to settle so that there is any time left to teach the lesson; insulting to see how Winston Smith and his colleagues have to clean up after grown men and women, and then drive at three in the morning to pick them up when they are hopelessly drunk; and appalling to read of PC Copperfield’s reams of paperwork to expedite what should be the simple arrest of an individual for breaking the law. One mistake in that paperwork could, of course, jeopardize a whole court case against a criminal.
Against this gloomy backdrop of hopeless and intentionally engineered inefficiency, there are the bright colors of humor. PC Copperfield recounts the tale of a robbery victim who heard one of his assailants call the other “Pete.” To find the culprit, the man suggested, what the police needed to do was to round up everyone named Pete and ask them if they did it. In a way, you can’t fault the reasoning.
Mr. Chalk has the following analysis of
. . . a recurring theme in schools: if you are quiet, well-behaved and fairly bright you will be ignored, whereas if you are a lunatic who shuts up for five minutes you will be handsomely rewarded.
And Winston Smith — who elicited my sympathy most of the three — notes the cunning of his charges as they realize that the proliferation of psychological conditions in recent times (doubtless dancing to the tune of the pharmaceutical companies) means that they might have a line of defense conjured up just using simple words of power. Smith talks to a recidivist thief who claims his problems stem from schizophrenia;
‘No, I reckon it’s schizophrenia’, he says, a little defensively. ‘There’s something wrong with me. I’m pushing for an assessment.’
I agree with Craig, in that there is something wrong with him: he is a thief.
As I say, laughter in the dark.
There is of course something risible about a sector of government so intent on hyper-auditing and monitoring its performance such that the very monitoring process itself leads to a drop in efficiency, but there is also something sinister. Why would anyone responsible for money raised from the public weal or tax income either allow or wish that money to be wasted and the system fall so severely short of its stated aims and purpose?
I don’t imagine there is one simple answer, but the fact that the public sector is wholly a Leftist project gives a clue. The answer to everything for the Left is more money and more hiring. Those of you unfamiliar with Britain may be surprised to learn of the public sector’s hiring process. The National Health Service (NHS), the education system, and the social services all advertise their vacant — and handsomely paid — positions through one newspaper, and one only. This sounds rather efficient, except that the newspaper in question is The Guardian. Winston Smith describes himself as a Guardian-reading liberal, which makes his testimony all the more important.
So much for waste at the top. What is its effect when it plays out at ground level and affects the lives of our three authors? The unforgivable aspect of the change in policing methods is that the average copper, like PC Copperfield, has had his or her awareness of professional risk and danger shifted. Not that long ago, a police officer would have thought, “If I don’t take care today I could be punched in the face, or even knifed or shot.” Now they are more likely to be thinking, “One false tweet, one missed pronoun in the office, one comment about pride which doesn’t clear the bar, and there goes my job and my pension, and I will have to explain that to my partner and our kids.” That is disgraceful and is deliberate, in my view.
These books also show the seeds from 15 years ago of what has now bloomed. Despite the belief that it is a new phenomenon, there was a British “Hate Crime Unit” 15 years ago, according to PC Copperfield. And here is Mr. Chalk describing a new science textbook around the same time:
It is chock-full of bright pictures of children from ethnic minority backgrounds doing science experiments . . . Even the teachers are in wheelchairs. Any wrongdoing is illustrated by a white boy; here is one, foolishly sticking his fork into an electrical socket. Here’s another, drinking from a test-tube.
Sound familiar? Now, the semiotics of advertising and promotion are familiar to us: Black people do virtuous things while any white activity is flawed, foolish, and ultimately racist.
Chalk’s and Copperfield’s books were published in 2006, Smith’s in 2011. Monday Books also published one of England’s greatest living essayists, Theodore Dalrymple, whose real name is Dr. Anthony Daniels and was a prison doctor and psychiatrist for many years. It was his reflections on his experience which first brought him recognition through his column, Second Opinion, for the UK magazine The Spectator. I interviewed Dr. Daniels — a charming, erudite man — a couple of years ago for a feature on his work. Some of his notes from the medical underground were dated as far back as 1997, a quarter of a century ago now. Did he think things had improved in the meantime? Absolutely not, was the predictable response. It will have got worse, and so it is with education, policing, and social housing. The only things to have improved in the last quarter century of the public sector’s existence is the myriad diversity officers’ salary brackets — now with new, added inclusion and equity ingredients.
Of course, the establishment always rushes to denounce these cries in the wilderness. The government’s Justice Minister at the time PC Copperfield’s book was gaining publicity was Tony McNulty. He sneeringly dismissed the book as “a greater work of fiction than Dickens,” but then had to backtrack after finding broad agreement from the police force as to the book’s accuracy. The British deep state does not want the public to know that the public sector is a bloated leviathan which consumes maximal tax money for minimal returns not because they fear their incompetence will be exposed, but because the public sector is designed that way.
Copperfield, Chalk, and Smith are messengers the state will increasingly want to shoot. Monday Books is much missed.
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