Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sticks and stones may break my bones ...

HOWEVER BLASÉ we may be, deep down we all care what people think about us. Forget that ‘sticks and stones’ thing – we all want to be loved, admired and respected, if not necessarily in that order.

The choices we make during our daily lives are influenced by how we think people will perceive us. I wouldn’t be caught dead food shopping in Lidl, wearing a BHS suit or driving a Kia car – not because there is anything wrong with any of that, but because it doesn’t suit the image I have constructed for myself.

But sometimes this image management can go too far. Take NuLabour, for instance. The tactics that finally got them elected was to convince voters that they were no longer a bunch of nasty Trots who would squander the nation’s wealth on meaningless public sector jobs. Of course, once they were in, that’s exactly what they did, but they managed to fool enough of the people for enough of the time.

Since then, the party machine has gone into overdrive, burying bad news, smearing critics and generally lying to all and sundry. It’s not so much style over substance as spin over substance. And the habit has spread to virtually all public sector organisations, from parish councils to billion-pound quangos.

Which brings us to NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (and never has there been a more inappropriate acronym). NICE is the organisation that decides which drugs can be prescribed by GPs and hospital doctors after assessing them for cost and effectiveness. It is regularly criticised for denying life-prolonging treatments to cancer sufferers and is often referred to as the health ‘rationing’ watchdog.

It now transpires that NICE spent £4.5million last year on “communications” … otherwise know as spin. Amazingly, this is £1million more than the organisation actually spent on assessing new drugs, its very reason for being. The figure includes money spent on press officers, marketing executives and consultants and includes £25,000 paid to a public relations company for defending the decision to ban certain Alzheimer’s drugs.

Let’s just say it again: this is a publicly-funded government body that spends 25 per cent more money on challenging criticism of its actions than it does on doing its job in the first place. If such behaviour wasn’t so breathtakingly arrogant, it really would make a cat laugh.

IN A similar vein – or should that be “vain”? – our Foreign Secretary in Short Pants, a little lad called David Miliband, has been caught jetting off around the world using the Queen’s Flight 16 times in the past year … which is more than twice as often as The Queen herself.

More annoyingly, many of the jaunts were to short-haul European destinations like Paris or Berlin, already served by dozens of commercial flights every day. Cabinet rules say that Ministers should use the Queen’s Flight only when there is no scheduled service available.

Let’s take just one example. In July of last year, Master Miliband went to Paris and Berlin, with a two-day trip to Brussels the following week. On each occasion he used Royal jets at the cost of around £2,000 an hour plus the cost of aviation fuel. A cursory internet search shows that there are at least 25 commercial flights a day from London Heathrow to Paris, 20 to Brussels and 15 to Berlin. A business class ticket to Paris would cost just £210 next week.

So what are we to make of this disgraceful profligacy? Is the boy thick? Does he just not care? Or perhaps he’s just the kind of person who wouldn’t be caught dead food shopping in Lidl, wearing a BHS suit or driving a Kia car.

A SALES executive is in line for a payout of more than £200,000 after claiming she was sacked for having two children in just over a year.

Alison Prowse-Piper was a successful double glazing saleswoman. After having her first child, Oliver, in 1999, she returned to work in a matter of weeks. Within five years she was promoted to become the national manager of tele-canvassing on a salary of £72,500 for a three-day week. Nice work if you can get it.

In 2005, Mrs Prowse-Piper told her bosses that she was pregnant again. She claims that one responded: “Oh, my God, you're not, are you? I suppose I should offer you my congratulations.”

To be honest, you can’t blame him. Here was one of the company’s key employees about to disappear again for the best part of a year.

Soon after returning to work, Mrs Prowse-Piper announced that she was pregnant again, and went on to have her third child 14 months after the second. Again, maternity leave kicked in and the company was once more denied the services of its star saleswoman.

When she finally returned to work, the poor woman claims that she was demoted to a job on half of her previous salary, suffered sex discrimination, sexual harassment and constructive dismissal. An industrial tribunal agreed, and now she awaits a lottery win-style compo payment.

I’m not going to mess about here. This woman is clearly taking the piss. I think we’d all just about agree that an employer should support a valuable member of staff through one pregnancy, but one after another, like some kind of human sausage machine, simply isn’t fair.

Yes, a big conglomerate with hundreds of staff might be able to cope with the loss, but what about a small company employing a dozen people or less? How are they supposed to manage?

Meanwhile, I fully expect the tribunal that made this decision to be hiring a PR company as we speak.

8 Comments:

Anonymous tony b.liar said...

Bazza,

You are so right, it's frightening!

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Lord Kilburn said...

Cracking stuff Baz (& with added disturbing sausage-meat art bonus)

10:20 PM  
Blogger cartermagna said...

Hang on Bazza I think you're forgetting somethi... No. You're not. You really are not.

NICE aren't.

Lidl, BHS and Lidl... nuff said there.

Milliband is as bad as the rest.

The maternity laws are a joke.

Wagon Wheels *were* bigger

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it funny that a woman's allowed to start work for you, knowing she's pregnant, then take you to the cleaners for maternity benefit 6 months later. And you're not allowed to ask if she's pregnant at the interview - that's sexist.

Oh, and don't forget the woman who started work the same day as you, then took 3 years off to have 3 kids demanding the same seniority as you after 5 years for having worked the same amount of time.

Don't these women realise that the lawsuit happy ones screw it up for the rest of them? I sure as hell wouldn't want to employ one... hence the "anonymous" so I can't be quoted as discriminating against them at any point.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous A weary taxpayer said...

Prowse-Piper? She sounds like a North Sea oil platform. Probably a hideous ballbreaker with a face like a bag of spanners, an arse like a hippo and zero sense of humour.
There was a similar harpie a few years ago who got the RAF to spend millions training her as a combat pilot. Predictably, she then announced she was pregnant, had the baby and demanded the right to return to work part-time. Equally predictably, the RAF said combat-readiness was a full-time role and sacked her. Her payout was massive - all the salary she would have been paid right up to her retirement and including extra for three or four possible promotions along the way.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous arescee said...

As we all know and frequently say -"this whole country has gone barking mad!" or "Britain is going down the plughole"
The rot has gone much too far to be addressed by anything less than full blown riots and civil war culminating in the logical, reasoning,undertrodden and overtaxed indigenous population regaining control.
It's not looking likely to happen so if you are able to get out - get going!

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how many charities spend their money on children, animals and things compared to how much they spend on advertising and administration.

Some of the people who stop you in the street get a fortune if they sign you up for say £3 a month. You spend your first year of giving generously to supply their bonuses.

Its not cricket - we should be able to give without fear that the money is being spent on staff and adverts instead of helping the person or whatever we decided to give to any way

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arescee talks about riots and civil unrest being the only way to stop the rot in this country so the indigenous population rule with common sense....however this thinking is flawed.

Whilst I agree that this country is going to pot with its neutral thinking on race and still keeping the doors wide open for every tom dick and ahmed to come in, civil unrest always been the final results of this policy.

Yet again there is no case of civil unrest ever solving the proplem neither. Look a Rwanda, Burundi, Bosnia, Ancient Roman Empire, all it will lead to is violence and death.

I am not criticing you just pointing out that civil unrest will not solve but perpetuate the problems

9:35 AM  

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