Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An odd thought

One aspect of the EU which causes resentment has been its intrusive, nonsensical and authoritarian regulations and rules.  It has become almost ‘accepted wisdom’ that a large part of the problem is the Civil Service, predominately left wing, mostly Europhiles and riddled by Common Purpose graduates, who have enlarged, gold plated and maximised the impact of EU regulation way beyond other EU countries, and often even beyond even the EU’s intent, to further their own careers and political agenda of drawing us further into the EU.

Recently however I was reminded of a couple of occasions at work when management came up with stupid and nonsensical working procedures. When protesting the stupidity and ineffectiveness of such procedures made no progress an excellent tactic was to implement them, and to implement them as fully, painstakingly and mindlessly as possible.  Inevitably this soon caused problems because simple jobs took longer or became delayed, people were inconvenienced, systems of work fell apart, and that of course resulted in complaints to management, who were then forced to rethink their original plans and undo some of their daft ideas.

The introduction of electrical PAT (portable appliance testing) was one such scenario when the management insisted early computer equipment was all tested in a particular way. “But”, we replied, “If we do that the equipment will be damaged, the test exceeds its design limits.” “The consultants are experts”, we were told, ”you must do it like that.” So we did - fizz, bang, splat! Next week we apologised to users that various items of computer equipment were non-functional and would be out of service until they could be repaired. The following year the protocol was changed.

So with this in mind I wondered what I would do were I working in Whitehall? If I were charged with implementing EU directives for a UK government who were determined to keep us in ever closer union with the EU. That’s right, I would implement every regulation, I would gold plate all its provisions then polish them. I would ensure it affected the maximum number of people and in some way made their lives more difficult or more expensive. Then I would pass the rules along to ministers and government to enforce on the population with a big smile.

Eventually the inevitable would happen and a significant mass of people would get more and more annoyed and frustrated and push back against the rules. Isn’t that exactly what is happening?

I don't suppose this is what has happened, I can't imagine that the Whitehall mob are doing all the gold plating on purpose just to piss everyone off, but whether by accident or design they seem to have finally succeeded!


  1. In my experience, gold-plating occurs all through the public sector, not just Whitehall. Certainly I never saw any other way of doing things over more than three decades.

    All they are really doing is creating status for themselves. Gold-plating reflects back on the person doing the plating - as they all know.

  2. Ah... Now that may explain a malfunction of some rarely used chemical analysis equipment I have that was PAT tested a year or more ago and has not worked ever since. Has not been sufficient of a problem to investigate, but I will now.