Wednesday, 1 June 2011

I wish I was so bad at my job they paid me that much not to come again!

Just when it seemed that the States of Jersey were exhausting their power to shock the island's citizenry, along comes a new and bigger scandal.

Nobody could take issue with two senior civil servants, who had failed to manage their responsibilities successfully, choosing to resign before they incurred formal dismissal. In fact, it is a shame that they did not depart even sooner. And I suppose that it is a kind of constructive dismissal to warn them that a disciplinary dismissal would be the outcome of any ill-judged attempt to cling to office, so inviting their resignations..

On the other hand, it is hard to see how anybody could not take issue with paying enough to have funded some well-appreciated service such as school milk for a couple of years as an inducement to resign. At that level of management, remuneration already reflects the risk that the boss will be expected to take the responsibility for failure by moving aside. Ogley and Pollard both failed to run their areas of responsibility to the standard the public expected from them for their money, and both should have simply gone. To offer them hundreds of thousands of pounds not to come into work anymore, just to save the bother of firing them is an utter absurdity and obscenity.

It is not hard to think of reasons why they should have left under clouds. Whatever one thinks of Stuart Syvret, in days of better mental health he exposed totally unacceptable management failings at the Health Department, that Pollard must be held responsible for continuing, even if they pre-date his watch originally. Ogley is up to his neck in malfeasances involving Syvret and Graham Power, and has been at the heart of every unsatisfactory piece of government policy of the last few years. I seem to remember that his reference was leading the implementation of hardline Tory cuts in Hertfordshire. Through the worst years of of Thatcher and Major, Jersey used to take pride in its wealth enabling it to do things that little bit better on the whole, but now our leaders want to catch up in their race to the bottom, and Ogley was seen as the man to do it.

Although it is rumoured that Jersey appears as a major producer in the accounts of a famous banana trading firm, it is not really a banana republic. Some would have it that The Jersey Way is just like one, but, in fact, very British attitudes predominate. Messrs Pollard and Ogley were sadly misled, if they were given the expectation that they were going to enjoy the levels of licence and impunity needed to get away with their style of doing things. And who so misled them?

Even if they had been induced to take up their posts by false pretences, the compensation given for their departure seems altogether disproportionate. And who saw fit to be so generous with our money, and, moreover, why?

The answers are of course that The Council of Ministers, and maybe a few close advisers, were who, and to induce them to take the rap for those behind them was why. However much initiative these men were supposed to exercise in carrying out their orders, and however much advice they gave as to what those orders should be, there can be no doubt which way the chain of command actually runs.

The whole sorry scandal is a sign that we have elected some unworthy leaders to the highest offices, if they will hire help to do such things, and need to buy their silence so expensively, when they fail to get away with them. We must choose more carefully next time: Although so much damage has already been done now, that nobody could fix it all in a term or two, we must stop adding to it.

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