Sunday, October 30, 2005

Nerdy Cohen Completism ...

Tim, mate, you've missed one. "The Bank Borrows An Idea - From Enron" was Nick' Staggers column last week. I can see why it's not on the blog because it's a massive hostage to fortune; I am in a position to personally testify that Nick managed to get massively the wrong end of the stick, and the letter from the Secretary of the Bank of England complaining about it is basically right. The BoE has always had a system of performance assessments under which you are more or less "up or out". I owe my modest career in the world of high finance to this fact; indeed every couple of years I attend a dinner with a scattering of consultants, financiers and hedge fund managers where we toast the lucky day that we were removed from the civil service "fast track to success" and forced to fuck off and get proper jobs in the real world.

Key extract for those who are frustrated with the New Statesman's rather insane content management policy (and an example, by the way, of Nick's gift for writing sensible comments side by side with complete nonsense):
I'm not saying that the bank's economists will run off with the gold reserves. It's not the honesty of civil servants' actions I worry about so much as the honesty of their advice. Civil service independence rests on the belief that public servants are free to speak candidly to their masters without fear of the consequences. The ideal is already hard enough to live up to. A dominant minister or prime minister promotes civil servants who don't say things such as: "The war in Iraq is going to be harder than you think" or "Your NHS reforms are going to create chaos".

It was for this reason that the civil service watered down "ranking and yanking" when Sir Michael Bichard, then permanent secretary at the Department for Education, proposed it at the height of the dotcom bubble.

Now it's back and is about to be imposed on one of Britain's oldest institutions. Nothing, it seems, can discredit a bad idea in Whitehall if it's a bad idea which has come from the private sector. I'm sure its proponents won't be following the directors of Enron to prison, but I'm equally sure that, like Enron, the economy they manage is about to crash.

btw, for anyone on "Melanie Phillips Mutation Watch", the first seal on the Vaults of Dacre is grammar schools. The second seal is crashing house prices. There are only seven seals ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way, you didn't hear it from me, but if you use an anonymised web proxy like "", you can read as many New Statesman articles as you like ... or so I hear.

10/30/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this post was rather amusing. Was the "tim you've missed one" aimed at me (Tom)? I don't follow the New Statesman and Nick should put the text up of his latest piece for them.

I'll add the Statesman piece to

10/31/2005 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a million apologies Tom. You may call me paniniboy in future.

10/31/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Former Labour Voter said...

Tom, "rather amusing"? I for one will never stop laughing hysterically at the brilliant comedy in this blog entry.

11/01/2005 10:13:00 PM  

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