Monday, 26 July 2010

The One That Is Waiting For The Axe. . .

We all have to take our medicine, and it can taste bitter. Lord knows my medicine bottle is on the horizon, and I may yet have to take a drink. But I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it. One thing is for sure, the axe will fall in my department, it only remains to be seen if my head is nicked off or not.

Being a public servant with a degree of concern over my job, and a Libertarian who absolutely believes that government is far too big, far too intrusive and far too expensive puts me in an invidious position. Sometimes I sound like the turkey voting for Christmas, knowing that the policy I support could result in my standing in the dole queue. But there you go.

So it is not without sympathy that I learn 75 public sector jobs are to be lost with the disbanding of the British Film Council. But I find myself asking the question, 'whilst the BFC may have had a hand in the production of some fine movies, is it really the place of the state to be making them?'

The arts is without doubt important, but it is also very divisive. Is it acceptable to throw large amounts of public cash at the opera or the ballet, despite the minority appeal? Many would say not. Is it more or less acceptable to do the same for a more popular entertainment medium?

I don't know how the BFC works, but I do know how the public sector works. Whilst films like Vera Drake and the Last King of Scotland were undoubted artistic successes, and I should imagine made a profit, would private investors want to be involved? There's a simple answer, it is yes. If there is a profit to be made of course private money can be attracted. But I'm betting that the bureacratic restraints that the public sector will always bring to the party scares off more private investors than it attracts. Thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that films are hard to make without the help of the BFC, but the BFC makes it hard for people to make films. Sounds rather like the benefits system.

It is rather predictable when Tim Bevan, chairman of the Film Council says, 'Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision'. Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

It is also rather predictable when the UCU lecturers' union warned that an expansion of the private sector would be a "disaster" and that the creation of a new private university was the "beginning of a slippery slope.

Note that there's no suggestion that any existing universities will be closed, but apparently, "Encouraging the growth of private providers and making it easier for them to call themselves universities would be a disaster for the UK's academic reputation. It would also represent a huge threat to academic freedom and standards."

Well, I hate to break it to you, but our academic reputation ain't what it was. We have people going into remedial classes when they start uni because they karnt rite proper, and when they do get a degree it is a BA in Eastenders or a BSc in Climate Change Management or somesuch guff. My experience of uni, where I did a perfectly useless journalism (sort of) degree was that the tutors were more interested in using us as guinea pigs for their PhD research and making us parrot their political dogma than actually delivering anything of worth. A private uni won't have that luxury. Fail to deliver a course in an acceptable manner and that is worth something, and pretty soon the university will be closed.

As for academic freedom, a bigger lot of rot it is hard to imagine. When has a centralised system ever resulted in freedom?

And finally to the boys in blue, their not at all political brass are complaining about elected commissioners. Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers[. . .] said Acpo would "need to examine in detail the government's proposals for maintaining operational independence against the practical reality of directly-elected police and crime commissioners".

Operational independence? Give me a break will you. Firstly, the police are not independent. Chief Constables have been effective political appointments for years now, as evidenced by the Sir Ian Blair mess. Secondly, the Home Sec says jump, you jump. Unless that is a new Home Sec says something you don't like, then you ignore it. So by independent, do you actually mean unaccountable? I think so.

Finally, the police should not be independent. They should be wholly dependent, dependent on the support and wishes of the community that they serve. If you aren't producing the results and performances that the public want, then too bloody right your arse should be shipped out.

I refer you to the Peelian Principles:

The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
That does not mean impounding kids toys such as happened at the Kingsnorth power station protest.

That does not mean beating a man sufficiently to kill him, such as happened with Ian Tomlinson.

That does not mean demanding innocent people delete photographs such as happens time and time again.

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
You are entirely dependent upon us. You would do well to remember it.

Any candidate Commish who promotes such a simple, clear and effective policy will get my vote in a heartbeat.


Anonymous said...

"They should be wholly dependent, dependent on the support and wishes of the community that they serve"


Been down to the Swamp Estate in Ruraltown recently? There, one in three males aged between 16 and 40 have a criminal record for violence, usually against their female partners. They use/deal drugs, abuse alcohol, drive illegally, fight/beat each other and generally make the minority of decent people on the Estate's lives a misery. There is also a significant minority who are from countries where the moral code accepts the beating and abuse of women and children.

You want the UK police to be "dependent" on communities like these?

It's not all leafy Surrey you know!

Snowolf said...

I'm well aware of that, Guv.

It depends on how far you zoom into the concept of community. I get the impression that we're looking at Commissioners on a county level, rather than have a plethora of people involved at the level of city/town/borough council wards or covering the patches served by each station.

I read your blog very regularly and if it is one thing that sticks with me, beyond the mis-adventures of the swamp residents, it is the way that the officers on the street are hamstrung by ridiculous edicts from above. It's exactly the same in my civil service department.

I work quite closely with the police and one thing I've noticed is that the boys in blue tend not to realise the support and sympathy they have from the 'decent' public in general, simply because they have little contact with them outside circumstances which are no fun for any involved.

One thing that does get our goats is seeing the service we pay handsomely for directed to do things which just don't seem to be in our, or your, interests.

This lack of arrogant unaccountablitiy cannot continue. I lay no blame at the door of your rank, your Sgts, PCs and PCSOs, it is from the top, barring one or two well recorded incidents, that the problems come.

If it is true that the public are the police, and the police are the public, then we absolutely must have the power to tap the Chief Constable on the shoulder and say 'sorry chum, time's up'. I cannot see any alternative but to having elected Commissioners.

There's nothing like a bit of job insecurity to focus the mind on delivering what is wanted, rather than singing the hymns that will get you that promotion, that knighthood or that cushy job on the ACPO top table. The only way to focus the mind of the Commish or the C-C is to let them know they are being watched and rated by people who won't be worrying about how diving in will effect their own political careers.

I'm also well aware of your concerns of the Swampies and BNP getting their hands on the levers of power. That unfortunately is democracy though. If such a result were to come about, and the result be as horrific as both you and I suspect, then you can bet your bottom dollar enough people would turn out next time to ensure it never happened again.

Anonymous said...

The University system in the UK certainly isn't what it used to be. All it is now is an indoctrination wing of government. I started a degree last year in Animation and Computer Arts and left within 6 months because it was pointless, not forgetting that one of the modules was being taught to us reading up about Walter Benjamin, a School of Frankfurt critical theorist and Marxist. Why? What on earth has computer arts/animation got to do with Marxism?

State education is only a problem when it's leaning too far to the left or right. If the education system is slap bang in the middle, libertarian and teaching us what we need to know instead of indoctrinating us in the government's way of thinking then that's ok. The problem is that our government is left wing and one can no longer all our Universities British anymore. They are globalist.

The Arts council should not be state funded either. The undeniable fact is that the only people who go to the Opera and the ballet are from the upper echelons of society. It should be privately funded and by those very people.
I agree that the film council should also be privately funded and let's face facts here as well - Arts in the UK is the bastion of the left. If you want to succeed in music, film, TV then really, if you're not left wing leaning you haven't got a hope in hell of getting anywhere. I know, I was a musician for most of my time and saw this evident all the time.

And the police, well.....

Bottom line is simple:

No government!
Local elected people to run the towns and cities of the UK held accountable by the people and fully answerable to the law of the land with no immunity whatsoever.
Local elected people to police the town and cities, held accountable by the people and fully answerable to the law of the land with no immunity whatsoever.
Local elected people to run as public servants in those towns and cities held accountable by the people and fully answerable to the law of the land with no immunity whatsoever.