Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Legal but dishonourable

It's not often I find myself agreeing with Diane Abbot but here goes:

These days I'm a boss (kind of). I have to say that despite the stress this brings it's quite  nice being a boss. It's not really  about the money- in a business like ours there's quite a few people 'under' me who are considerably better paid than I am. In my case I simply  never really liked having anyone 'over' me so being a boss - albeit one who does his best not to act like an arsehole -  is definitely a preferable option. But one thing about being a boss is that the buck stops with you - for better or worse. 

Sometimes - despite your best efforts to be decent and honest - you soak up undeserved glory rightly accruing to people under you - and sometimes you shoulder the burden when they fuck up. Those are the breaks and if you can't hack it - don't do the job, whether it's being the managing director, the captain of the darts team - or the head of children's services at a local council earning £150k a year. 

That's a fucking lot more than I earn by the way - but if you were going to justify it at all you could say that when my team fucks up maybe a typo gets printed and we lose a client - whilst when a social services team fucks up a child dies.

I've no doubt that Sharon Shoesmith was hung out to dry and scapegoated by Haringey Council and most of all by cowardly Ed Balls in response to a lynch mob reaction to the death of Baby P. I'm also sure that the legal decision was well founded in employment law - and I hope that it ruins what little political career Ed Balls may have left. 

But on a personal ethical basis - for Sharon 'I don't do blame' Shoesmith to pocket any compensation for her dismissal is simply dishonourable (sorry I can't think of a better less old-fashioned word) - inappropriate is probably the PC jargon but that doesn't cut it.Granted she probably won't now be able to get another senior exec's job in the public sector and  she has lost a decent pension - but there's nothing to stop her just  keeping her head down and quietly earn a modest living doing some thing a bit more mundane. In the circumstances, whatever injustice she may feel she has suffered, that would seem like an honourable course of action.  

Of course if she was only seeking the courts' decision to highlight the government's and council's scapegoating - maybe now she has achieved this she could  donate the settlement to a campaign to defend public sector jobs and services - or at the very least to a kids' charity. But I wouldn't hold your breath ...

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