On Sunday, for the first time I felt that I could actually walk away from the civil service tomorrow. My pension wouldn't be great but we'd survive. And with that thought, I felt a surge of sheer joy and release. I honestly wouldn't miss anything about it at all, other than lunch time chats with G but I can always meet him outside work. But if I walk away, then, literally, not metaphorically, people will continue to die.
Over the weekend, I also thought about the meeting we had with Trace last week and realised that what she/Swinson are proposing - putting additional and unnecessary work through British Standards - is potentially catastrophic. For one, it sets a dangerous precedent, because the villains will almost certainly then insist that we put all work through BSI, which will please Sir Ken for a start, given his place on the steering board at BSI. Giving them all the work will allow them to spin it out, water it down and generally shape the regs to their particular needs which, let's face it, don't have more than a passing resemblance to what's sometimes called by old-fashioned civil servants the public interest.
So it was I decided to meet one of the lawyers first thing today, on the basis if I can't get my lot to do the right thing, maybe the law can. And M confirmed that a) there is no legal requirement for BIS to run anything past BSI, and b) we need to put the match right asap, since, as the lawyers have told us before, there are big potential lawsuits looming if we don't.
Back at my desk was an email from Barbara, first asking me how I was (!), although I suspect this was mostly for the record rather than genuine concern. Mind you, while I was half-way through replying she actually made the physical trip to my desk where she fixed me with her 10" close 'genuine' stare, I guess to show she really did want to know (freaked out and wishing I wasn't backed up against the edge of my desk, B, as it happens). She then went on to imply that she was on message - apparently unaware that none of us have any idea what the message is any longer; but I think she meant to get the new test in by April 2016 to please the Ministers and at least lower the lawyers' blood pressure a few degrees. Then again, I don't trust her.
After that, I wrote to Oliver Letwin who'd asked for an update. I met him at No 9 Downing Street last year, along with three other officials; and he'd had shown concern about all the cancers that might be arising from FRs in our sofas. I'd told him that our new test would hugely reduce FRs and he'd been pleased to hear that. Is he different to other Tory Ministers, in that he wants to put public health before profit? I guess we'll see. [On 5 July 2017, George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian about how 'The Red Tape Initiative', including Letwin, met on the day Grenfell Tower blazed, to discuss how they make further cuts to safety legislation. So maybe not . . . ]
Oh, and today the Minister received a letter from our old friend and FR-lover, Paul Fuller, ex-President of CFOA, who was at the round table meeting, spouting nonsense. He'd copied in others like his old FR-loving mate, Dave Sibert, of the FBU. Nice to see the two firefighter unions coming together to . . . um, make sure our sofas remain flammable. The tactics in the letter are clear and predictable: they now want to run the new match test into the 'full review' of the FFRs which of course needs to go through BSI, thereby of course creating delays that can go on for as long as they want them to. Incredibly, he claimed to know nothing about the full review, which took place largely between 2011-12, even though his Presidential predecessor attended loads of meetings, along with Mr Sibert.
So, why do Fuller, Sibert, Sir Ken, etc, want to delay changes that will make the public safe and protect their own firefighters from toxic smoke which causes cancers and other illnesses? Steve and I discussed this the other day, and we think at one level it's as simple as they like to be part of 'The Boys' Club' - to get access to the top (round or otherwise) table; to own union credit cards; to attend lots of charity dinners; to feel important; to mix with MPs and other 'respectable' types - to feel they're 'steering the ship', 'keeping a firm hand on the tiller', 'enjoying well-earned perks'; lining themselves up for honours and more epaulets on their shoulders. While at the same time remaining pig-ignorant of the damage they're causing to the public (either because they actually are pig-ignorant or, in one case at least, choose to be when it suits).
Me? Well, let's just say I got thrown out of the boy scouts for starting a revolution at summer camp.