Tuesday 28 March 2017

Top mandarins' gilded lives

It is rare enough that the muscular lyricism of the Bible should be applied to the work ethic of our top level public sector workers. However, in the wake of the revelations about the bacchanalian holiday entitlements of our county managers, the admonition in Luke 12.27 to "Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of those" came immediately to mind.

Even if we were living in the proverbial land of milk and honey, there would surely be a need to consider the conditions of the sort of lilies who, when the rest of their many entitlements are included, spend an unsatisfactory portion of the calendar year in the office. Of course, unlike their attitude to "toil", our county managers, and our more humbly "arrayed" top level civil servants who must endure, on top of nine bank holidays, modest annual leave of six-and-a-half weeks, are well able to "spin" when it comes to protecting their "privilege days".

Nothing, however, can disguise the fact that the conditions of employment our top mandarins enjoy are decadent. During the Whitaker era, the defining ethos of the public sector was one of frugality and a vocational attitude to public service. In contrast, today's top public servants are desperately open to the charge that the new ethos is one of "ask not what you can do for your country, but how much you can do your country for".

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