Friday, July 28, 2006

Hooray for Nick

Nick successfully revisits old themes for his Staggers effort today: large government computer systems (or at least the ones recent administrations have chosen to buy and run) don't work; old chum Harry Fletcher; New Labour ministers are, to use Chris Dillow term, 'managerialists", and for that matter poor managers.

A couple of parenthetical points here. I've worked in the civil service, as has the other BB. While I don't remember it with Housman-like nostalgia, neither do I regard it as a den of tea-drinking plotters working on their next scheme to mis-spend the hard-working taxpayer's hard-earned. Nick is pretty gentle on civil servants here; but then I think most Staggers readers are probably paid by the Treasury (ie they work in the civil service, or teaching, or the NHS), so if Nick wants to keep the wolf-door separation at the present level, he had better be nice to them.

Usual carping, now. Nick or the NS don't edit well. It's Judge Dredd. (It's a proper name, and proper names often deviate from conventional spelling -- eg Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, Benjamin Britten.)
Now perhaps someone can tell me what's good about this?

Violent offenders will serve longer sentences and their automatic discounts for guilty pleas will be removed.

This seems to remove the incentive for pleading guilty, thereby tying up the courts still further.

Reid's critics, such as Harry Fletcher of the probation officers' union, point out that Reid is tearing up a system that Labour itself introduced in 2003, and wonder where on earth Reid is going to house his prisoners.

It's good to see Harry back, a Nick column isn't the same without him. (There is about a year of columns in that sentence. One could write about nothing other than New Labour's ability to revise its aims and deprecate its own procedures and legislation and never want for material or inspiration.)

But here is what is odd. The civil servants who are meant to make their new master look tough and decisive have had their legs hacked from underneath them by Reid. No politician in British history has produced anything like his assault on the Immigration and Nationality Department. It was "not fit for purpose," he roared to MPs, "inadequate in scope, technology, leadership, management, systems and processes”. The former communist wasn't criticising a negligent official who deserved to be fired. Like a commissar demanding a purge, Reid launched his attack on everyone who was working for him.
If you think that I am being too kind to feather-bedded bureaucrats, consider this: you never hear private sector managers talking like Reid. Even when they take over an ailing rival, even when they are planning mass redundancies, they never say that all their employees are unfit for purpose, for the very simple reason that the good ones they want to keep will go if they do.

The other BB called a recent Nick column 'well-written.' I'll give him this: this one certainly is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked this one too

7/28/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick pop-culture nit-picking - there was an earlier "Judge Dread" character who "Judge Dredd" may have been named as a tribute to. The earlier Judge Dread was a terrifying quasi-supernatural rastafarian judge sent from Africa to wreak vengeance on Jamaican streetgangs in a succession of 1960s ska singles by Prince Buster. Prince Buster and the Judge Dread singles were heavily influential and very popular on the Two-Tone scene which I think Cohen is the right age to have been into...

7/31/2006 02:17:00 PM  

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