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“They work for us”. Shyeah…

Melody Bartlett is deputy editor of the CBI’s magazine Business Voice, unpicking government’s relationship with big business. She writes at The Business Editors blog:

Why is it that any journalist who wants to speak to the relevant person in government about proposals or policy must first confront a wall of PR obfuscation? Government offices are manned with armies of PR staff who refuse to deal with queries, claim ignorance of the most mundane issues and would have you believe that all government staff are permanently on holiday.
The title of your publication and the nature of your story are all too important in determining whether your enquiry will receive a response.

Surely this is not the way it should be. Government staff work for us all, and have a public duty to deal with questions about their doings. The preferred method of communication seems to be ‘placed’ copy, to which end government departments appear to employ consultancies with huge budgets. What a waste of taxpayers’ money.

That this shocks someone who works for the CBI – and someone who explores on a daily basis the state of government’s relationship with commerce – is rather more shocking to me than Ms Bartlett’s own complaint.

6 comments to “They work for us”. Shyeah…

  • permanent expat

    So, who’s surprized already!

  • Simon Jester

    Faux shock on Bartlett’s part, I think.

    Real shock on Jackie’s part?

    If so, I’m shocked.

  • Majorino

    Let me join Jackie in being shocked that a journo who works this beat would be so surprised. WTF?

  • Julian Taylor

    Exactly. Surely any journalist knows what a cynical and bureaucrat-weary general public already knows – that a bureaucrat’s title of office always means exactly the opposite of their occupation, thus the lovely term “government Public Relations staff”.

    Government staff work for us all, and have a public duty to deal with questions about their doings

    Well, in Utopia that’s very true but in this reality civil servants are only answerable to their immediate superior, and so on up the rotten ladder of incompetence. At the very top there is someone who may be occasionally called upon to answer questions to a Commons Select Committee, but not very often, and our bureaucrats know all too well that most MP’s tend to be even more incompetent that they are, so not much danger of a question being raised in the House of Commons about their conduct. It’s said to be a fate worse than being denied a pension for a civil servant, being named in a parliamentary question.

    Melody Bartlett needs to get out more 🙂

  • Keep thinking that the Government is your servant!

  • emy

    As one TV ad proclaims – “How do they sleep at night?”