Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Ghost

I've just finished reading 'The Ghost', which is such a lazy, tedious and nothing like the write up on it's cover, 'one man uncovers the worlds greatest conspiracy', that it as been made into a film.

The only thing the author really did get right (and even then made an ad hoc mess of getting the point across) was how power corrupts. The book is clearly based on Tony Blair but could equally have been about any recognisable politician in Britain and possibly around the globe. Affairs, mistresses, wives in the background, bland personalities, generally amoral and backed by some shadowy organisation or party and complimented by a host of hangers on - the researcher who would follow anyone who paid him, the mistress, the sycophants who agree with his every word waiting for the scraps off his table, the upper class twit seeking glory by association and so on.

So although the book itself was not particularly thought provoking, I did start to wonder how the tide could be turned to get politicians (generally) into power who are not corrupted by it and the hangers on seeking second-hand kicks.

Instead of going down the old route proposed by our new government = majority rule v proportianal representation, how about this.

1. Politicians should be paid only the national average wage. This means that being an MP is still reasonably attractive, does not exclude poorer members of society but does not attract those looking for big bucks. (NB: only actual expenses to be paid as well - no second homes etc).

2. Anyone seeking to enter politics must undergo a competency test. This would include an exam to test numeracy, literacy and their understanding of goverment.

3. Staffing for politicians should be kept to a minimum. One secretary for example. If their party wants to pay for extra staff, let the party do so. This would rid politics of some of the hangers on if there are less opportunities for money grubbing.

These are just a few ideas for starters, so let me know if you have any better ones for stopping the madness that politics has now become. Proportional representation will change nothing. Making politics just an ordinary job just might do the trick.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Same Old, Same Old

If ever there was a reason to doubt that there has been a change of government, then just look at this piece.

As a manager for many years, it has been my (dis?) pleasure to spend hours at the tedious pastime of the interview (preceded by the even more tedious chore of shortlisting). There are certain things that stand out clearly during this process:

  • Many candidates are illiterate or illegible or both
  • A lot of the illiterates and illegibles have a fine array of GCSEs with A*
  • Quite a few of the illiterates and illegables have degrees
  • There are usually a fair smattering of applications that give no information in the box reserved for 'general information in support of your application'.
  • At interview stage, we are lucky if half of the shortlisted applicants turn up

So what does this tell me? Well, it seems clear that;

  • Our current education system does not teach students to read , write, or think
  • That qualifications cannot be trusted as a reflection of abilities
  • That it is entirely possible to be thick and have a degree
  • That there are a fair number of people who apply for jobs because they will have their dole money cut if they don't - hence not fully completing the application form to ensure they are not invited to interview
  • That even in a recession, about half the shortlisted candidates find better options than working with a local authority, even in a massive global recession.

And what are the government planning to do?

They will - set targets and incentives, fund training schemes and mentoring programmes, give the private sector a national insurance holiday, create technical academies and push vocational qualificatins.

What about just teaching them, properly, as they used to be taught, so they can actually be of use to an employer?

But no. There's no money in teaching kids what they need to know. Better to throw money at new acadamies, mentoring, training schemes, the private sector, whatever........... but don't teach the kids anything of use.

Looks like the consultants, million pound usleless academies, government sponsered mentors and training schemes are here to stay.

Same Old, Same Old.