Friday, May 26, 2006
'Dysfunctional' only 'some of the time'?
John Reid underestimates the seriousness of the mess at the Home Office. The Department has even more intractabler problems than have so far been discussed. Reid, in his statement to a commons select committee, said that he did not believe that the Home Office was "intrinsically dysfunctional... but I do believe from time to time it is dysfunctional". Well, he acknowledges major failure in pretty well all respects: leadership, management, systems and processes. The question is: what is at the root of this comprehensive failure?
Apart from the answers that a management consultant could provide, there is the obvious difficulty intrinsic to the interface between the Civil Service and its political masters, but made much worse by the politicisation of the Civil Service to perform more like an ongoing PR exercise than to do its actual job. Simon Jenkins (Guardian) describes it as a power hungry empire building of short-termism: "a Valhalla of bureaucracy's living dead beyond even the satire of Dickens's Department of Circumlocution". But there is something else, and it is a real deep-seated cause. I would venture that you cannot separate the acknowledged major failure from the political issue that the Home Office is riven with political correctness fascism. This distracts from and re-prioritises what the Home Office as a whole and its constituent divisions should actually be doing, and hinders communication upwards and between directorates.
This is not, as at the BBC, more an aggregate result of the political bias of individuals than a 'line' that the organisation takes; but in many respects official policy.
The PC fascist stance is the backlash to end all backlashes against ordinary people by the political Left orientated political classes, whereby anyone and everyone (women, gays, the disabled, the non-native) are considered more worthy than are ordinary people (specifically men), who are falsely portrayed as the mirror image of the supposedly unblameworthy.
It was beautifully illustrated in the actual refusal to apologise for the labelling of 2,700 people as guilty of crimes of which they were not even accused -- flouting a principle of justice even more fundamental than that of 'innocent until proven guilty'. It is demonstrated across the Home Office: for example, in the target to employ women in half of all senior posts -- necessarily requiring massive direct discrimination against men; in the campaign to imprison innocent men accused of rape by the Kafkaesque rape law (reversing the burden of proof) that it has recently enacted as a result of its own Sex Offences Review ('Setting the Boundaries'), which completely ignored the record number of objections to proposals; in the extreme difficulty men encounter in being recruited to the Probation Service, which displays an amazing attitude towards criminals (in that they are supposed victims of of 'patriarchal society' -- sex offenders excepted, of course: they are regarded as 'patriarchy' incarnate). And so on: there are examples galore.
Nothing this pernicious has ever held sway within the establishment of a modern society. It does of course apply across the West generally, not just in the UK and in the Home Office; but the Home Office is a blatant case. In what is the self-proclaimed 'lead department' in UK government when it comes to 'equal opportunity and diversity', this is alarming to say the very least.