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Tsk, We’re All Being So Mean To Civil Servants

What if we’re treating this coronavirus the wrong way?

It is, of course, the house newspaper of the public sector that complains about this. The Guardian tells us all that we’re just being so mean to civil servants:

Ministers have been accused of focusing on saving their careers instead of the lives of coronavirus victims by authorising “cowardly and shameful” anonymous briefings against some of the UK’s most senior public officials.

Smears by unnamed Downing Street sources against Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service, and Public Health England (PHE) executives show that “some within government are still putting self-preservation first”, according to the head of the senior civil servants’ union.

It comes amid concern across Whitehall that cabinet ministers and their special advisers are mounting a concerted effort to pass the blame for the UK’s faltering response to the pandemic on to officials.

Well, yes. The clamour is that during the crisis we must listen to, take the advice of, the experts. This is not a time for partisan politics, this is the time for management by the skilled.

If those skilled, who have been taking their comfortable salaries and generous pension contributions for a decade or three while remaining in reserve for their hour that cometh that’s fine, it’s part of the insurance policy, the resilience, that society pays for. If they then, as they pace the stage finally, cock it up then we should criticise them. This is what they’re for, whaddayamean you’re incompetent?

The same article claimed that ministers were blaming PHE officials for an inflexible attitude and insensitivity to public pressure for answers. “What this has exposed is these people’s utter lack of accountability,” a senior official told the newspaper. “It’s not just PHE, it’s a whole world of these bodies that bumble along, occasionally banning Coco Pops or something but for the most part entirely out of sight.”

Yes, quite. We’ve been paying £4.5 billion a year to these people. Whaddayamean you’re no good in a pandemic?

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4 years ago

If you’re supposed to bow down to ‘the science’, it’s certainly reasonable to sink the boot into the scientists when they stuff up.

Of course if they didn’t make such a fuss about the Priestly Heirarchate of Scientific Wisdom and pointed out that the scientific method is something anyone can use, perhaps people would use their common sense as well as listening to expert opinion.

4 years ago
Reply to  Boganboy

It’s not even science – the arguments are not about how RNA is transcripted, they are about models that use statistics. And in that there are lots of people very familiar with the pitfalls and weaknesses of models that are entirely reliant on the assumptions made. Sadly none of them seem to be in government.

4 years ago
Reply to  Phoenix44

Of course many in government understand the weaknesses of computer models. However, they are in government, which means their question is not whether the prediction is reliable, but solely whether they will achieve the result they desire.

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