Thursday, 23 September 2010

Come Back, Norman Tebbit: Worryingly, All Is Apparently Forgiven.

Oh my God. When are politicians going to learn to recognise shades of grey? I despair, really I do. And I have no idea what is happening to my politics.

Today I manage to fall out with Pete Carew, the deputy leader of Northwick Council. I do wish he wouldn't sneak into the office like that. I've just got off the phone to one of the council officers, who has made a major cock-up by revealing the name of a noise nuisance complainant to the perpetrator.

This was despite the fact that the complainant had been assured his identity would be protected in future because, last time he complained, he was subjected to death threats and vandalism, which the Police are actually treating very seriously.

The council officer is so defensive about his stupid error, that I almost lose my temper during the conversation. When he's not making pathetic excuses, he resorts to monosyllabic responses to very straight questions. It's like trying to get blood out of a stone.

As soon as I've hung up, I shout through to Greg's office:

"God almighty, Greg. When are the Council going to get some bloody competent staff? Some of this lot wouldn't last five minutes in the private sector."

"Hey, Molly," says Pete. "What's with all the public sector bashing? It's the bankers' fault, as well you know."

"God - where did you come from?" I say. "I didn't know you were here. And anyway, I'm not bashing the public sector. Not as a whole."

"Well, it sounded like it to me," says Pete. "I've worked in it for thirty-five years and I'm bloody proud of what I've done."

"Well, you work hard, Pete," I say.

That's where I should end the conversation, but for some insane reason I don't. Instead, I continue:

"But I can't help thinking it'd be bloody refreshing if someone in the Party would acknowledge - just for once - that not everyone who works in the public sector does a good job in return for taxpayer's money. Or has an essential job. Constituents know that's not the case."

"Humph," is Pete's considered reply.

Honestly, when will people learn that trying to defend the indefensible really pisses the public off? And me, actually. I worry a lot about the dangers to the economic recovery of cutting jobs, (especially as Max is much more likely to lose his job than is Pete), but I don't see how pretending that every bloody job is essential, or being done well, helps to protect anyone.

There follows a predictably ill-tempered argument, which ends up with Pete asking me how on earth I can say any of this when I work for a Labour MP; and me saying that that is precisely the reason why I am saying it - due to the fact that I am exposed to constituents' often well-founded complaints about incompetence within the public sector on a daily basis.

But I'm apparently supposed to believe that there are no public sector jobs which could be cut without negatively affecting the public. I can think of one council officer who wouldn't be missed, straight off the top of my head, but this doesn't go down well at all when I mention it. In fact, I'm sure Pete mutters "fascist" under his breath as he takes his leave.

Greg has been mouthing "shut up" at me throughout, the bloody hypocrite. He's suddenly become very party political since he found out he was the one going to conference this year. Usually he takes the view that you could sack half the public sector and never notice the difference, and he's always reading out stupid public sector job titles, and ranting about the salaries.

Now it'll be me that the local party is moaning about, rather than The Boss, for a change. I shall have to pour oil on troubled waters once I've calmed down - but that's going to take a while. "Fascist" was completely uncalled-for. I'm no fan of the bankers, as our bank manager would be only too happy to confirm.

I'm still in a foul mood when I get home, and am quite likely to lose my temper with Josh or Max, especially if they say anything flippant about PMT - so I decide it's safer to stay out of the way once we've finished dinner. I'll read the papers in bed before QT* starts. (I'm still trying to catch up on everything I missed during our so-called holiday anyway.)

Imagine my horror when I come across this article, and find I agree with almost everything in it. Not content with turning into the bearded lady, I now seem to be becoming Norman Tebbit, of all people. I can't bear it - I used to despise him almost more than anyone else in Thatch's cabinet, especially for that "On your bike" thing.

It's a good job I'm not going to conference this year. I'd probably get lynched. I wonder if there's a link between fascism and sexual frustration?

*QT - BBC Question Time. Essential viewing for MPs' staff, as the usual suspects all watch and want to discuss the next day. They obviously have nothing better to do, either.


  1. Welcome to the dark side, Molly...

  2. Oh, don't! I shall become a total pariah.

  3. Oh, dear. Of course NT is right, and so are you. Defending the indefensible always backfires. My career was in the public sector and there are many competent and enthusiast staff, and some that are less so - just as in every walk of life. What pisses the public off is an attitude that public servants right to a job over-rides the responsibility of management to deliver appropriate, quality services at economic cost.

    But let's not forget that behind nearly every public sector excess lies a politician who, often many years before, decided that public (ie other people's) money would be well spent (ie earn votes) on their latest whizz idea. Fashions change, politicians move on, but too often the spend continues.