Tag Archives: Defra

Beware of the little people


It’s obvious that the great and the good are sadly disappointed in us. In spite of the bounty they pour upon us, the wise guidance they offer and the tender way they gently lead us into the golden future they have mapped out, we’re not to be trusted.


I noticed in the paper today that “Ofsted fears schools will squander extra cash.”

Apparently Ananda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, said that “There was clearly room for improvement when it came to school budgeting and that bad financial decisions would be harmful to children’s education.”

Apparently she also hinted that there could be an expanded role for the inspectorate in analysing schools’ financial records to ensure budgets were properly spent. Given that nobody has seen any evidence that Ofsted actually has any competence in the financial field, one assumes that this expansion of their duties will, inevitably, lead to a considerable increase in their staff numbers. Equally inevitably this will lead to senior people being raised to higher grades, in recognition of their ‘greater responsibility’ with, of course, a corresponding increase in the level of their remuneration.

Strangely enough, the comments, “Were put online yesterday by accident before being quickly removed.”


At the same time, on a webpage from the Government Digital Service, small boat fishermen were described as ‘poor, less intelligent and depressed,’ categorising some of them as ‘rule beaters consistently seek to evade regulation’ who ‘are often unpopular with the rest of the fishing community.’

“The regulator said that the phrasing came from external research when developing the Catch Recording App, a new tool that small-scale English fishermen are being forced to use to record catches. To justify the need for submissions in the app before fish are landed, the paper claimed fishermen in the under-10 metre fleet (which makes up 80% of the catching industry) could not be trusted to unload their haul without ‘colluding’ with black-market sellers.”

Strangely enough, the fishing regulator has apologised for being ‘massively disrespectful’ about trawler-men, and the comments have been quickly removed from the website.


In agriculture we’ve had it for a while. One Defra run database told staff some years ago (in the last millennium, so the attitude is not new) that they were to assume that farmers were lying unless it was proven otherwise. This was a verbal briefing to staff (back then managers were either too wise, or not tech-savvy enough to inadvertently put stuff on the website by accident) but unfortunately due to the nature of the staff, it leaked out.
What senior people in Defra hadn’t realised is that a proportion of the staff recruited to work on the database were the wives or daughters of farmers. They were ideal employees because they actually understood what the data was supposed to show. Unfortunately, when they got home after work, they were also the ones who would gather up and submit the data that their farming family had to put on the database. As you can imagine, the warning they were given didn’t go down well.


I confess to being reminded of the words of Bertolt Brecht


After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers’ Union

Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee

Stating that the people

Had forfeited the confidence of the government

And could win it back only

By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

Sadly, we the little people, have forfeited the confidence of our masters in the bureaucracy. Perhaps they should show their displeasure by abandoning us and going off to administer somebody else? I’m sure that would teach us a strong lesson.


There again, what do I know? I recommend you discuss the matter with somebody who knows.

Available as paperback or ebook

As a reviewer commented, “If I were younger, I would love to spend a year following Jim and Sal around and listening to the stories and adding the special effects, but I sure get a lot of the picture from his well-chosen words.

Can’t wait for the next book! Beautifully done.”