This is an anti-political rant, but I make no apologies for it because you and I are paying for this generation of self-legitimising public servants of little practical use to normal industry or national benefit. Itís relevance to the DCS and Scottish Parliament Bill is that behind all this political effrontery I see the subversive and alarming direction this nation is headed in. I am sure you all see it too. ĎJobs for the boysí gone too far this time. I am not a member of any political party, just the everyday commonsense brigade.
Last night looked up some of the titles at DCS just to get a feel for the quango and discovered that there is a ĎDirector of Stakeholder Relationsí. What the hell does that mean? Who makes this cr#p up? Is this just another fantasy job title copied from the Guardian jobs section? Most of the other folks there are ĎOfficerí this or ĎManagerí that. How many managers does a small organisation need? I absolutely abhor titles for the sake of it and I certainly do not use them except in basic functions in business. Last year I got in trouble with a recruitment firm for asking for a sales assistant Ė it had to be a more substantial title as people should not feel that a job is demeaning. Where do they get off? I donít know about you guys, but I come from a rough-grazing croft in the Inner Hebrides and have worked my way up the ladder and fallen off it a good few times too. My ghillieing, culling, labouring and TA service paid me through university and into Sandhurst. And my business mistakes and successes since that undistinguished career ended have taken me in the direction I am hopefully headed in now. If you work hard you get respect, if you covet titles and bullsh#t then you get ridiculed.
Right, we all need work and I am making no individual criticism here; well done to those that were able to get those grand titles and positions. It is money in the bank each month and a purpose, even if that purpose is based on an existential lie. But letís get back down to earth please. Letís look at the position our country is in with regard to the rest of the world and how the UK can compete and grow.
Basic fact: it is the PRIVATE SECTOR and not the public sector that will get this nation back on its feet. What we need is not more public servants and more fancy ideas, titles and excuses for them to bolster their own positions and powers, but more focus on developing the private sector and real meaningful employment. By that I mean industry, those who create wealth, have real jobs and pay substantial amounts through taxation and fees to the exchequer that now so evidently feeds this self-perpetuating circus of politics and quangos.
I am sick and tired of the bullsh#t being generated in Holyrood and Westminster. Rather we paid them to just do nothing until something genuinely worthwhile turned up. It is time for a drastic change; a change back to basic values and the principles of industrial effort.
I spend a lot of time fighting on behalf of my industry with the DTI as they were (they are now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Ė I kid you not Ė and some PR firm got handsomely paid to come up with the new Ďbrand nameí). I sit opposite people who have absolutely no industrial experience, little practical economic skills and zero incentive to do anything that looks too Ďkeení. To be in a meeting with principals of foreign companies and the DTI representative joining us asks at the end of the meeting in front of all of us what an MoU or heads of terms document might be is just depressing. And yet they make and enforce the rules by which we have to abide.
As far as I am concerned it should all stop here. Enough is enough. Line in the sand is drawn.
Here are my basic tenets /doctrine:
▪ No career politicians which have f-all life experience in the real world.
▪ Fewer MPs Ė there are far too many and admit that themselves.
▪ Find a real world purpose for the Scottish Parliament or get rid of it altogether. If all they can achieve is anti-airgun and anti-snaring / hunting legislation then a business decision has to be made. Cost:Benefit? Does it pay itís way? No? Then write it off.
▪ No MPs younger than 45 or 50 years old (Iím 35 and counting myself well out of this as I do not feel that I have the experience, sage wisdom or yet proved my worth). There are plenty of older fellows out there with the skills and ability to lead this country and its people. Career politicians do not provide the leadership or have any respect in the country any more.
▪ You will have proven life experience in a genuine field of industry or public service. I donít care if you were a fireman or a gamekeeper, nurse, CEO of BP, Marquis of Shaftseverybody or a crofter from Barra, but you need to be bright and know what you are about.
▪ Within limits you donít need to have a Persil clean background, just the character, decency and energy to work hard on behalf of your country and constituents.
▪ You will serve the nation as political representatives of the people and there will be no more political party whips. If an MP objects to his partyís line then he or she should be able stand up without fear.
▪ A decent salary comparable with senior public servants in other sectors. Yes, that means a pay rise for MPs. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys and we have a whole tree-full of them in Westminster and Holyrood.
▪ An expenses scheme which is fair and transparent as in any normal business (itís not difficult) and with a one strike and you are out mentality. I donít like cheats or thieves; if you think you are worth more pay then reason with me in writing and I will listen.
▪ And a focus on pertinent business Ė no more bullsh#t projects.
Politics and Oversight
▪ No directly unelected Prime Minister except for the minimum time required to call an election. Gordon Brown exit the stage Ė hopeless fellow and a real career politician who fantasises about high business affairs and screwed up the economy.
▪ Quangos to have limited powers and have strict oversight so that they do not become a pointless and unelected tier of governance (DCS and SNH beware Ė justify your positions and powers or lose them)
▪ Regional select committees with representatives of local life and industry.
▪ Parliamentary select committees with panels made up of the great and good of the field in question and not just MPs with nothing better to do.
▪ Renaming the DeptBERR to Office for Business and Industry and focusing on private sector job creation.
▪ A ten-year focus on reducing the amount of legislation and cutting out what is good law from bad law.
▪ No more legislation for legislationís sake. Just the basics for decency and clarity in a civilised and developed society. No more reinventing the wheel, just what is required and nothing more. Itís time to cut legislation and bureaucracy down to the bare minimum. That way we can respect the law rather than feeling threatened by what is actually supposed to protect us.
▪ Education on what this nation is about, what we stand for, how we got here and where we are going.
▪ An understanding that if you donít work you wonít get any money.
▪ If you canít find work we will give you experience and worthwhile employment through state run initiatives partnered with business and give you the best possible opportunity to find a role in life that suits you. Basically worthwhile apprenticeships on the principle that the young should respect and learn from the old.
▪ If you genuinely are unable to work (other than obvious extreme illness etc.) then we will find ways for you to contribute so that you do not feel left out and we feel that you are part of the team. There by the grace of God go we, but we are all part of this country and, regardless of disability, should feel included.
▪ National Service Ė military IF you want it, otherwise a year spent in the community on educational, charitable, industry and engineering projects. Job creation? I can give you a list of hundreds of things that need to be sorted in my community from gritting pavements for the elderly, cooking meals on wheels, painting over graffiti etc etc so why not get the young to do it. They learn to work hard in teams, develop leadership and practical skills, meet members of local industry and life, have fun and become a valued part of the community. It would be a coming of age year for which they would be paid subsistence money, with a cash bonus at the end if they have performed well, followed by mentoring until they have made the transition to further education or fully paid work.
▪ If you are fit and able then spend time in the forces and learn a trade. Armed Forces pay will go up substantially Ė traffic warden pay will go down. Itís called the risk-reward theory. If you put your life on the line for your country and mates then you deserve every support financial or otherwise and priority healthcare and job opportunities. Thatís fair.
Immigration & Culture
▪ Select immigration only. If I am allowed to select who works for me and by default who I work for, then I bloody well expect to be able to choose who I share my country with.
▪ An acceptance of some aspects of cultural joining up and mutual respect, but a recognition of the cultural, historical and moral values that this nations stands for.
And I donít want any racist quips back at me; this isnít racism just cultural and economic common sense. We have offices in Africa, Pakistan, Malaysia and I have had girlfriends from Iran, Pakistan, Ghana, Shetland (!), Hong Kong, New Zealand and Brazil and I love to travel and experience other cultures, but I do that with respect and understanding of other peoples. When I am in my country that my family for generations have fought for then I expect the same respect and consideration in return. No half-way houses. We will select who comes here exactly as the Australians do. This is a fair and common sense approach.
I wonít go further than this. This is just a basic doctrinal statement, but one which answers some of my concerns about this nation and the direction we are headed in. It is far from perfect, but it is a starting framework. The Chinese, Brazilians and many other emerging countries are way ahead of us in education and business sense. In the coming years they will lead the world. I donít know where it all started to go wrong for us, but it needs sorting quickly. And donít tell me that we cannot compete with these countries on economic terms. We can. It is simple Ė create regional free-trade zones where Less Favoured Areas or other deprived regions become attractive to UK and Offshore businesses. Give them tax and capital incentives and they will come here. This is an island nation, not a subset of the European Parliament. Letís use what we have before we fall so far that we will never bounce back.