Friday, February 19, 2010

A Voice in the Wilderness

Do you ever have those days when you feel you might as well be invisible? When everything you say falls on deaf ears? When any attempt you make to point out the realities of a situation are characterised as being 'obstructive' and 'negative'? Well, welcome to my world. It seems increasingly obvious to me that, at work at least, my opinion, even in my own areas of expertise, are completely unvalued. It is getting to the stage where I'm beginning to feel that it is utterly pointless for me even bother speaking to my so-called 'colleagues'. My only solace is that it is apparently the same across the public sector these days. Even at the highest levels. One of my favourite pieces of evidence to emerge from the Chilcot Enquiry was the testimony of a senior Foreign Office legal adviser, who, when they offered their opinion to that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a further UN resolution, was to be asked why they kept giving such negative advice.

This individual had been labouring under the misapprehension that they were being employed to give their expert opinion, regardless of whether it was in line with departmental policy. The reality in today's civil service is that your opinion should always support the prevailing policy or management fad and, above all, be positive. Constructive criticism is definitely frowned upon. In fact, questioning management fads, even when they are patently wrong, or even illegal, is simply not tolerated. Management only want to hear voices which agree with the current status quo. That way, when it all goes wrong (as, inevitably, it always does), they can blame the lower orders, saying that nobody ever drew any problems to their attention, when they should have. It's a culture of 'yes men (and women)', which ensures that public sector continually lurches from one crisis to another. I'm really not sure how much longer I can take it.



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