Today I have the dubious pleasure of revealing to some of our staff how we intend to deprive a good number of them of their jobs. It’s by way of a dummy run, for these job losses have nothing to do with the cuts – they are about the completion of a programme of work that was always going to come to an end. There is of course a connection though; in other times these well-experienced and in many cases long-serving staff would have had little difficulty in finding their next assignments. Now, of course, they are being “released” into a much harsher and more hostile environment, and one which is poised to become harsher and more hostile still once the Comprehensive Spending Review’s full horrors are known next month. And then I fear the experience I’ll gain today will be put to further and repeated use until, quite possibly, my unpleasant work being done, I join these ex-comrades once again in another bout of unemployment for myself. Changing the name of my blog back to its depressing original title will be only the least of the doleful consequences.
But I’m jumping ahead and I shouldn’t allow myself to think these maudlin thoughts; nor do I want to be in any way indulging in a self-fulfilling prophesy. Things may not turn out this bad. It’s not insignificant however that I am thinking thoughts as unhappy as these. Throughout the public sector there are many other senior managers such as me who are being frog-marched into acting as agents of the Coalition’s dissembling over the deficit. And it’s having more profound effects than it might appear. Throughout the sector there is a growing sense of foreboding, a chronic anxiety about the future, a disabling resignation. There is a serious danger that not only will public services be decimated by the loss of the skills and experience of those staff who will be the direct victims of cuts, but also that those who remain will be so de-motivated, so over-stretched, and so battle-scarred that the rump of services will be even less effective than they might have been. A double-whammy if ever there was one.
Rich irony then that today is also the day that Mr Bob Diamond, £100 million beneficiary of the banking débâcle that precipitated all this grief, is confirmed as the new Chief Executive of Barclays Bank, which in making this appointment is effectively blowing a loud raspberry at the majority of the citizenry of this country who are now paying the bill for the banks’ collective folly. It is of course more complex than that, and far too many of that same citizenry were colluders in that folly when they swallowed the patently false prospectus that money could somehow be magicked from thin air. Despite that, it remains the case that the real-world consequence of this complex web of financial inter-relationships is that some very few individuals are able to hang on to their magicked money whilst very many more are to be deprived not only of any magicked money they might have been unwise enough to accept, but also the very real money that comes from having a job.
It may be argued that we have no poor in this country, and relative to the total global economy that is largely true. It is not true that no-one is poor even by that definition since we have plenty of people with no food and no shelter save that which is provided through charity. Certainly the people whose jobs I’m about to whisk away could not be called poor on a global scale, even after they’ve lost their jobs. But we all know that poverty is relative and not absolute. Compared with Mr Diamond we’re almost all paupers. So I have no hesitation in confirming that, yet again, “It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, It’s the poor wot gets the blame”.