03 May 2010

In praise of the backroom boys and girls

Why Cameron is not fit to be Prime Minister. The Guardian reports:
Amid signs that the Tories are failing to build a decisive lead, Cameron today reassured wavering voters that frontline services would not be cut.
Pledging to act in a "big-hearted way", Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "What I can tell you is any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: 'Here are my plans' and they involve frontline reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.
After 13 years of Labour, there is a lot of wasteful spending, a lot of money that doesn't reach the frontline."

Well fine, bloody fine. We all admire nurses. But somebody needs to recruit them, and someone else needs to pay them their wages, and someone else needs to provide them with their uniforms. By any definition, these somebodies are not frontline staff; does that mean that they can more readily be dispensed with?

And what about the mechanic who maintains the hospital's heating system, the receptionist who books in the patients, the kitchen assistants who prepare the patients' meals, the accountant who does the hospital books?

Hospitals are complex organisations, which is why they need administrators. I accept that there may be too many of them and that some of them may be overpaid - but sacking the lot is not a sensible answer.

So can we stop pretending that cutting the public sector is a simple matter? And can we abandon the false distinction between frontline staff (good) and backroom staff (bad)? And could the politicians at least pretend to be grown-ups?

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