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Inside Out - The Pleb Plimsoll

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Gosh what a week. A senior politician has to resign for being rude to a public servant by calling them a pleb.

If every politician who had been rude to me over the years had resigned my returning officer fees for the byelections would have bought my retirement home in Spain!

In the same week us local government officers were patronised, found out we had been lied to, and been threatened with further removal of powers. No change there then!

Some public servants are heroes. Others are fair game. We could develop a Pleb Plimsoll line for politicians

Francis Maude stood up at Solace and told us to stop contracting services and start commissioning outcomes, leaving providers to innovate. What does he think we have been doing for the last ten years? Ordering widgets? If only it were so simple. It would be irresponsible of us simply to say what we want, and leave the how it is delivered to contractors. This is especially so when we are squeezing money out of the system. Private companies will “cut corners” to maintain profits. If something goes wrong the search for someone to blame will lead to us because we didn’t specify how things should be done. Pickles will look for a pleb to blame.

Then Nick Boles, replacing the nice Greg Clark, told a Select Committe that decentralisation was nebulous, and more planning powers will be taken away from local government and decided centrally and the temporary relaxation for large verandas will stay! Keep important decisions away from the plebs!

It made me muse about whether there is a fundamental values system behind how Government thinks about different public servants. Some are heroes and can only be criticised by ministers at their peril. Others are fair game at any time.

To help politicians, we could develop a Pleb Plimsol Line for Politicians. It would be like the Plimsol Line on the hull on a ship - if the water goes over the line, you are sunk. Above the Pleb Plimsol Line are police, armed forces, senior civil servants, nurses, and doctors. Call one a pleb and your political career is over.

Below the line are tube drivers, NHS managers, low grade civil servants and everybody in local government! So, Mr Pickles, you can call us what you like and get a pat on the back from your chums!

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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

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