It may be time for me to go blow the whistle to Bryony Keller, the Head of Business Group, just one step down from the Permanent Secretary - about the fact that I'm being forced by senior civil servants to act in breach of the Civil Service Code.
I've been in the impossible situation this week of drafting an official government response to the consultation that essentially says, "Job done," but then goes on to add, "We're delaying until April 2016 in order to do more work via BSI." This is being insisted upon by Barbara and John because they think it will solve most of their problems. But I've been trying to get them to see that this means conceding to Sir Ken, etc, that this is 'the right process' which means there is no chance of implementation by April 2016.
I had a long talk this morning with Sue [my previous line-manager] who not unreasonably urged me to consider the ramifications. I said I had, and didn't agree with her that walking away would preserve my reputation - because they have already mostly trashed it in defence of their cock-up over the failure to go ahead on time. I also pointed out that whatever I do will create stress anyway. At least this way, I'm doing what's right.
Towards the end of the conversation, I asked her how she felt about it all. As I'd guessed, she didn't say she was outraged at management's behaviour; just talked in terms of being worried about me. Then there was one of those chilling moments when her voice went a little auto and she parroted Barbara and John: "But the fact is, Terry, lots of people have said they have concerns and very few retailers have jumped up to say they support the new test." I replied that the retailers are not jumping up because none of them wants to be the first to admit they're selling unsafe products. And the villains are jumping up to voice their objections because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I suspect Steve would simply have said to her, "So, you've been brainwashed, too." [He'd have been right, as it turned out.]
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with my union guy, Bob. He said he's never encountered anything like this before, where someone is actually taking on senior management. He warned me that they'll close ranks and use dirty tricks [they did]. He put it to me that I could walk away, although he knows by now that I can't - because that would be the wrong thing to do. He suggested I could consider 'cuddling up' to them, and get them to reconsider from a more together angle. Well, there is no point even considering that with John, since he is bent. Barbara, maybe, but her ego volatility can't really be trusted. Besides, I simply can't see where there's room to compromise with the government response. Essentially, they want me to lie so that the country can remain at risk.
When I looked at the Civil Service Code today it all seemed so clear-cut: says that you should report incidents of a Minister being misinformed, etc, and if you're still not satisfied, take it to the Civil Service Commission. Simples!
Here is a list of pros and cons about me whistle-blowing:
- Conscience clear; integrity intact
- Lives saved
- Environment less polluted
- Our work not trashed
- My family know I've done the right thing
- I keep Steve's respect
- Stress: I will be attacked
- Industry might fight even dirtier
- Civil Service career in the bin
- Months of fighting senior management
- Delay my retirement and doing something much more useful
I had a realisation this week, which may help towards my inevitable decision - that the quality of one's perception is directly governed by the quality of one's integrity.
This is why Steve and I see much more clearly what is really happening and what that will inevitably lead to than anyone else involved in this situation. Their lack of integrity automatically limits their intelligence. Someone once said that intelligence is the ability, in any given situation, to know what needs doing; to have the ability to do it; then to do it, whether you like doing it or not.
What needs doing? The Regulations need putting right in order to protect the public. But once you accept a bribe to block them, or to put your CS career first, or decide that you can't afford to risk your pension, then you cease to see that. Which means your integrity is weakened, and you're in a vicious circle of declining perception.
John cycles to work every day. Well, he cycles on his fold-up bike a couple of miles from King's Cross station. He wears a football shirt with 'Moore' on the back of it, which might I suppose be an ironic statement of sorts. Then he spends the first hour or so at his desk, in his sweaty - or mock-sweaty - cycle gear. He thinks this gives him some sort of 'street' authenticity. But what everyone actually thinks he is, he's just a twat. How come he lacks insight into this perception of his desperate 'real man' props? Just ask Chemtura, or Albemarle, or ICL.
When you lack integrity you don't want to see anything that exposes that fact - which means you simply don't see. The problem is that the Johns, the Barbaras and the Sir Whatsits of the world actually think they have integrity too, hence they don't realise that they lack perception. Which means that if you present them with the conclusions of real perception this happens:
a) They will tell you that it isn't like that; it's like this, and if
b) you go back to show them with more perception that they're actually wrong,
c) at first they won't respond at all; then if you persist, they will
d) seek to destroy you.