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April 29, 2009


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Kay Tie

If you need a further example of how we are not being served by the public services, look no further than this:


It appears that on the say-so of a civil servant (the word "servant" not being an adjective, simply a moniker) the IPS can refuse to issue a passport. So rather than the public services actually serving the public, they are serving themselves according to how they believe their "mission statement" should be upheld. Not even, you'll note, with reference to the will of Parliament and the law, but with reference to a "mission statement".

Can anyone point to any public service that actually has an ethos of service: where the primary motivation is to serve the people that use it?

Kay Tie

Here is the best media comment I have seen on the Ghurka issue:

"A Downing Street spokesman later added: "We've put the country £1.4 trillion in debt, government ministers are chin-deep in sleaze and the cops are beating merry hell out of everyone. We just felt that the obvious next step was to tell thousands of heroic soldiers to go fuck themselves."


Paul: the DVLA story came from Watchdog. I treat Watchdog suspiciously ever since the "my Mondeo pulls to the left" story (where thousands of people complaining of this turned out not to actually have Mondeos). Nonetheless, I am willing to believe pretty much anything of the DVLA based on my experiences and other horror stories.


I think this shows the problems of the "Database State": when the "computer says no", that's the end of it: The answer's no.

It's true that the victims of the DVLA could use a Subject Access request under the DPA to get the data back out of the DVLA, but ordinary people can't be expected to have to learn how to navigate the New Kafkha state that's been assembled.

Paul Flynn

Thanks for the contributions on Parli-gook. The information on the DVLA is news to me KayTie. I'll have a look at the evidence.

I know Jolly Roger that you have a longstanding problem that even one of the best MPs in Wales has failed to solve. That does not mean that the case I quoted is a result of a real problem. The complexity of the Social Security system creates its own anomalies.

Richard T

On the Ghurkas, putting Phil Woollas up to defend the Government's position with what appear to be dodgy figures (check Channel 4 fact watch and recall the different numbers cited by Mr Woollas, the PM) might seem stupid with hindsight. He seems to have made what might or might not be an arguable case unarguable.

Gareth Williams

Paul, your next blog could be about the LibDem/Tory achievement of the Gurkha victory. :)

Kay Tie

I've always hated that "UK PLC" phrase, for the reasons you give, Huw. It smacks of corporatism, which is just as bad as other forms of big government.

Any endeavour has its jargon. The IT field has infected our language with it more than others, perhaps (download, bandwidth, narrowcast, crash, dump, log on, undo, server, database, query, search, USB, GPRS, WiFi, TCP/IP, etc.). I fight against it, but rarely win (why is it acceptable to put up error messages with terms like "buffering" when this means nothing to ordinary people - who are then forced to learn a new language to do the simplest of modern tasks; it's an outrage when you think about it).


It is hopeless, government adopting the manner and language of large scale private enterprise was never a sane thing.
The UK is not a PLC, it is home to many of its residents. The business of government is not business, but government.

Corporate language is generally used to disguise issues not highlight them and its principal purpose is to pass the buck from management onto either the workers or in many cases the customers for anything that goes wrong.

I had a little fun today with one representative of a company that provides another company with a telecoms related product sticking stolidly to his guns that even where the results of their tests were in conflict with reality, the tests were still valid and their results accurate.
Obviously I cannot go into any real detail but from our point of view their entire testing process appears designed to prove that faults are not their responsibility rather than to determine where faults are arising.
That to me is the corporate world.

As is the situation in another company, where their technical support staff's calls are scored on purely customer service areas.
This is a situation where a polite but useless tech will achieve top marks without helping their customer at all, while someone who can and does resolve customers issues can fail miserably.
Because they know how to measure customer service skills and apparently cannot figure out how to measure the ability to resolve problems.

The corporate world, full of jargon about how the customer is king, while they could not give a flying fig about the customer at all.

Of course what connection could there be with the corporate world and government agencies like the DVLA, surely a government agency would be expected to have nothing in common with the corporate world.

While the government and its agencies believe they should behave like private enterprise, nothing can improve.


I find the phrase 'sustainable development' to be so ambiguous and open to different interpretations it has become meaningless.

Clearly, if there were more blue sky thinking we'd all be on a level playing field and be able to hit the ground running (my three worst)

Kay Tie

It's hopeless. It's just one reason why I prefer small government: at least when this is done to you by a supplier you can go "huh?" and then go somewhere else to avoid it. When you have to fill in a Tax Credit application form full of this kind of stuff, what do you do?

I was watching Watchdog the other day, with a report about how the DVLA is screwing up driving licence renewals and sometimes losing entitlements. Well, we all make mistakes. But the DVLA doesn't give a tinker's cuss about the human impact: it is driven entirely by targets written in the jargon you just described. The arrogant responses to the real tales of hardship were jaw dropping. We, the people they are supposed to serve, count for nothing in this morass.

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