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?