Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

“In Clacton-on-Sea I heard about the young man who had been sanctioned, and had his benefits removed, because he was late to his appointment when the bus broke down. He couldn’t phone to let them know because he had no credit on his mobile phone. He was told he should have used a phone box but the bus fare had used up all his money, so he had no food.”

 

This isn’t my quote; it comes from the following document, looking at foodbanks.

http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/FaithInFoodbanks-Full-Resource.pdf

 

Now let’s get this straight, we’re not talking about government policy or legislation. We are talking about a nasty jumped up bureaucrat who has just been revelling in the joy of being able to put a fellow citizen firmly in their place.

But this is a symptom of a bigger issue.

First let’s look at the young man who was sanctioned. To whom did he appeal? Obviously not to the department who sanctioned him. But what about his MP, or even the local newspaper, why weren’t they involved?

Some of the problem lies in the fact that so many of our population are poorly educated as citizens. They’re conditioned to just accept the decisions of authority. Yet it is the duty of a citizen to overthrow the state by obeying its orders to the letter.

 

Petty bureaucrats know better than to try this sort of trick with well connected middle class people. If I’d been the young man’s advisor, before the hour was out he’d have padlocked himself to the doors of the centre, super-glued the lock, announced his hunger strike, and with photos on the web, local journalists harassed, his MP phoned, and I’d probably even made sure the BBC got to know about it.

 

But would it have worked? Would these organisations have bothered to go to the trouble of defending some nameless nobody in Clacton?

I don’t want to bring the MP for Clacton into this, or the local paper. I want to look at the general rather than the specific.

Have we as citizens forgotten our duty? It was probably Edmund Burke who said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

If we watch petty bureaucrats acting tyrannically without protesting, are we abrogating our right to be considered citizens?

Perhaps we don’t approve of people on benefit? Perhaps we feel that there are too many people ‘not pulling their weight.’ Perhaps we feel that people ought to face the smack of firm government, for the good of the state?

 

Perhaps we ought to stop and think, and remember that all of us can find ourselves on the wrong side of a petty tyrant.

 

Perhaps we ought to remember the words of Pastor Niemöller

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

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12 thoughts on “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  1. The Story Reading Ape September 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm Reply

    JOBSWORTHS RULE OK seems to be the motto used by many bureaucrats nowadays Jim 😦
    I agree with your assessment that they don’t dare tangle with wealthy, well educated people, but those less blessed are fair game to them.
    COME THE REVOLUTION!!!
    or should that be
    SIRE, THE PEASANTS ARE REVOLTING – YES – THEY ARE AN UGLY LOOKING LOT AREN’T THEY?
    Seriously though, were hearing more and more about this kind of stupidity every day, in newspapers, on TV (even the BBC) – yet, it STILL goes on unabated!

    • jwebster2 September 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm Reply

      Basically I think a lot of organised groups (BBC, political parties, media organisations) don’t actually care what happens to the oiks. They look down on them and hold them in contempt. After all the BBC produced ‘Little Britain’ and took the mickey out of characters like Vicky Pollard

      • The Story Reading Ape September 5, 2014 at 7:43 pm

        Agreed, but they also broadcast intellectual gems like The Goon Show!
        Sorry, back to serious – The trend for news, views and expose` programmes today seems to be ‘Tell the great unwashed about every injustice you can uncover’
        WHY?
        Because it SELLS!
        Whatever their reason, hopefully it will reduce the idiocy of many (un)civil servants.

      • jwebster2 September 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm

        I sincerely hope so, because once bureaucrats get into the habit of treating their fellows with contempt, it’s a hard habit to break 😦

  2. M T McGuire September 6, 2014 at 7:13 am Reply

    There is a petition going round on just this subject from a girl whos diabetic brother died because he missed an appointment and his benefits were stopped and he had no money. He’d been made redundant and was trying to get back into work. I know what these people were like to deal with in the 1980s I shudder to think what they’re like now.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • jwebster2 September 6, 2014 at 7:54 am Reply

      Power without responsibility. I think individuals ought to be ‘named and shamed’

      • M T McGuire September 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm

        Yeh… they seem to be small minded gits.

      • jwebster2 September 6, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        Perhaps because they are?

        Perhaps if they thought the actions they took in the name of the community would be discussed by the community, with their names attached, they might be a bit less ready to throw their weight about

      • M T McGuire September 6, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        I think they just need to learn some community spirit, full stop. Either that or they’re just box ticking regardless of the actual circumstances surrounding the incidents… which is much more likely.

      • jwebster2 September 7, 2014 at 6:03 am

        I suppose it’s more likely that they just don’t care and cannot be bothered. I’m not sure whether this is better or worse

      • M T McGuire September 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

        It’s all pretty depressing but I suspect it’s human nature and when we look at times when we think stuff like this might have worked I suspect the same thing was still going on. Sigh.

      • jwebster2 September 7, 2014 at 8:54 am

        I had mates who had to deal with these people in the sixties, the seventies and the eighties. Apparently it wasn’t a lot different.
        We either had to train bureaucrats better, recruit better people, or come down really hard on those who abuse their fellow citizens

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