People who challenge decisions don't get influential positions?

(27 Posts)
SilverDragonfly1 Tue 27-Sep-16 09:37:38

The full title if it fitted the box would be 'AIBU to think that society is in a mess largely because the sort of people who challenge obtuse or self-serving decisions don't get high enough up the career ladder to have any influence over the decision makers?'

I feel that a lot of the things causing problems for ordinary people at the moment- government cuts, educational policy, NHS cuts and so on- are happening because the people who could challenge these changes have been selected for their unwillingness to say 'No, that's a stupid idea' to their superiors (in polite, official language of course).

Why don't Head teachers and LEA bosses say a flat 'No' to excessive paperwork and unrealistic progress demands? Why don't councillors and MPs for each borough say 'No' to funding cuts that will compromise their ability to provide appropriate services for their constituents and firmly tell Ministers to rethink their budget (please let's not pretend the money isn't out there)? Why don't board members of the NHS do the same? If they all did, the government would have no choice but to serve the public interest rather than its own.

I believe they don't say no because people who say no don't ever make it off the bottom rungs of the career ladder. I've thought this for years but it's come to mind particularly recently with people saying that Jeremy Corbyn (who definitely has his faults but is also happy to say no to things he disagrees with) is unelectable. This isn't a political thread per se, but I think it says something about our current society that being assertive and challenging norms is viewed with such negativity when occurring at influential levels of discourse.

LunaLoveg00d Tue 27-Sep-16 09:39:24

You may be right about the public sector, but challenging the status quo and suggesting other ways of doing things is definitely seen as a positive in the private sector.

phillipp Tue 27-Sep-16 09:44:33

I actually only started getting somewhere in my career when I did start standing up and saying no.

In a calm, measured and well prepared way.

I work in the private sector and have no experience in private sector. However I would imagine if a head teacher is threatened with the Sack of they say no to paperwork, they are going to do it. Not many people can afford to lose their jobs.

BillSykesDog Tue 27-Sep-16 09:49:31

Because they are public servants and not elected officials. The government which is implementing these policies has been democratically elected and that's why they are deciding these policies. Public officials have not been elected but have been appointed and their job is to implement policy not decide it.

If public officials can't or won't fulfil the will of the electorate because of their own personal feelings they will be removed from their post.

Tell me, when a left wing government is in, how would you feel about public servants ignoring equality and diversity directives or anti-discrimination measures because they just didn't think they were a good idea?

Are you okay with that? Or are you only okay with legislation being ignored when it's stuff you personally disagree with? If that's the case I would remind you that you are not currently the dictator of the UK. HTH.

SilverDragonfly1 Tue 27-Sep-16 09:52:38

That's a good point and good to know about the private sector! It is definitely a public sector problem.

phillipp Well, that's the thing. If all the heads said no, then they couldn't all be sacked and an alternative would have to be found! But as long as you foster a culture where saying no gets you sacked and a more compliant person is happy to take your job and salary, the problem will continue. That said, I think headships are becoming harder to fill, so that could change...

SolomanDaisy Tue 27-Sep-16 09:52:58

You're making the assumption that people don't challenge these decisions, when they do. Councillors are constantly telling government that the cuts are unworkable, but the government doesn't listen (and the government have no influence over a councillor's career). Head teachers and LEAs challenge decisions all the time.

These people challenging the decisions makes no difference as the government have no power and they have a democratic mandate to enforce their manifesto pledges.

SolomanDaisy Tue 27-Sep-16 09:54:25

The government have more power that should be!

AnyTheWiser Tue 27-Sep-16 09:54:31

Of course, why didn't they think of that?
Saying "no" to funding cuts will mean the government still puts the full amount in each year hmm

SolomanDaisy Tue 27-Sep-16 09:55:51

Actually, Derek Hatton is that you? Because I don't remember this approach working out well in the eighties.

museumum Tue 27-Sep-16 09:59:58

Look what happens when thd junior doctors try to say no sad

I'd support heads or even all teachers striking in objection to education policy but I'm not sure the majority of parents who would suffer childcare headaches would feel the same.

Local govt cannot say no to funding cuts. If the govt don't transfer the funding it's not there, the council cannot exactly go and rob a bank! Westminster seem to have been out to destroy local government for decades sad (while simultaneously banging on about better local accountability confused)

SilverDragonfly1 Tue 27-Sep-16 10:19:22

If you don't believe that power needs to shift dramatically in favour of ordinary people, regardless of their opinions, you're not going to agree with me which is fair enough. I'd debate whether a government can be said to have been elected democratically if it has less than 50% of the total vote. I think you need to take account of the fact a number of people who are voting for one party are doing so with the specific intent of voting against one or more other parties and the way that splits the vote so that those very parties get in. Yes, that's not the way you're meant to vote, but realistically strategic voting is common and widespread.

Fortunately I've not been elected dictator of the UK, democratically or otherwise, so all this is just a thought experiment. I actually regret bringing politics so specifically into the op now although it was always going to be an element because of the specific examples I chose. I do find it impossible to understand why some people are so aggressively against 'left wing' politics as though considering the lower echelons of society as important and worthy as the higher ones is such an offensive idea, admittedly.

Can't believe you unmasked me so fast Soloman! Oh well, back to the day job. Will this militant Trotskyism never pay off???

SilverDragonfly1 Tue 27-Sep-16 10:21:52

I think the junior doctors are a really good example actually. They made a great stand but were ultimately undermined by lack of support higher up the chain, from the people who could really influence the situation.

phillipp Tue 27-Sep-16 10:23:14

If all the heads said no, then they couldn't all be sacked and an alternative would have to be found!

Why would they all say no? There aren't one brain. They all have opinions. They are paid to do a job, some parts of that job may not be great. But that's the job. You can't just refuse to do bits of your job.

What you can do is gather information, campaign for change, come up with viable alternatives that still ticks the boxes regarding the issue such as safe guarding etc

phillipp Tue 27-Sep-16 10:25:29

I'd debate whether a government can be said to have been elected democratically if it has less than 50% of the total vote.

there is no debate. Our voting system is our voting system. Campaign to change it if you don't like it. But it's was still a democratic vote. Wether I personally like the outcome or not.

I don't remember labour members complaining when the same system voted in Tony Blair.

GiddyOnZackHunt Tue 27-Sep-16 10:34:03

The government usually put something in place so that any public servants or bodies that get too uppity can be put in some form of 'special measures'. Schools will have the spectre of forced academisation. Councils can be run centrally.

BillSykesDog Tue 27-Sep-16 10:37:12

There's never been a government elected with more than 50% of the vote and it's extremely unlikely we would ever get one unless we restricted the amount of parties able to stand which would be highly undemocratic.

Besides, in the last election about 52% of voters voted for right wing parties including the Tories and UKIP. That doesn't even include Lib Dem voters in favour of the Con/Lib coalition which would nudge it closer to 60%.

What you're asking for is not power to be put into the hands of ordinary people, you're asking for power to be put into the hands of people who agree with you, which you assume is ordinary but actually isn't.

In fact, judging by opinion polls, if you put power directly into the hands of 'ordinary people' you'd probably get an awful lot of populist policies: hardline anti-immigration policies, public spending cuts and swingeing benefit cuts beyond anything we've already had.

Remember the referendum? Not sure putting power in the hands of 'ordinary people' worked out that well there in many peoples' opinions did it?

BillSykesDog Tue 27-Sep-16 10:45:42

* I think you need to take account of the fact a number of people who are voting for one party are doing so with the specific intent of voting against one or more other parties and the way that splits the vote so that those very parties get in. Yes, that's not the way you're meant to vote, but realistically strategic voting is common and widespread.*

If people viewed the Tories as unfavourably as you suggest I think more people would be voting Labour as the only serious opposition rather than the vote being split.

In fact, the type of voting you're describing is mostly working in favour of the Tories at the moment by uniting the 'anything but Labour' tactical.

Nonewnameideas Tue 27-Sep-16 11:29:51

A democracy is a compromise, not an elected dictatorship! Government should take all people's voices into consideration, and I think that would happen less if parties did regularly receive more than 50% of the vote at GEs. There's an argument that PR provides a more representative form of government, but the UK electorate voted that idea down a few years ago.

As we've seen with Brexit, direct democracy can potentially create a situation where the losing side are underrepresented at the decision-making level. If it wasn't for May - if Gove or Leadsom had become PM - the 48% who voted Remain would have been shut out of the Article 50 process. How can we justify allowing a victory margin of just 4% dictate utterly the terms of such an important process? That's very nearly what happened.

Elections give the winner the right to act on the behalf of the whole of the electorate, not the right to do whatever their supporters want irrespective of the needs and desires of those who oppose them. A mandate to rule a democracy is not a mandate for absolute power, and simply being elected does not give you moral authority to do whatever you want. It's not a sliding scale of power, where the percentage of electorate support is proportional to your right to tell your critics to STFU. Democracy is not the ultimate panacea - it cannot stop leaders being corrupt or deluded, and every elected leader needs to be tempered by counter-forces and checks-and-balances. This is why I dislike Corbyn so much - he talks about the importance of democracy, but only wants the kind of democracy that lets him and his cabal rule with absolute authority.

On the original point, there has been criticism of the "postcode lottery" in the NHS - giving those who run services a lot of control at the local level can make things worse as well as making them better. It's incorrect to think the local "experts" automatically know best! The problem with the public sector is that private sector benefits of market forces and local-level control don't apply because public sector organisations generally cannot be allowed to fail. We can't have a BHS-type collapse in the healthcare or education sector because the impact on service users is so serious. Some big government oversight and control is necessary to prevent this sort of collapse taking place.

The real world is a messy place, and there are no easy solutions to any problem.

SolomanDaisy Tue 27-Sep-16 11:37:59

I'm left wing. I'm a Labour member. But you just sound like you don't have a fucking clue how the interactions between different levels of government work.

brasty Tue 27-Sep-16 11:59:11

I agree with Bill Sykes. This country is much more conservative with a small c than you seem to realise. It is why the party that manages to occupy the centrist ground usually wins elections.

BillSykesDog Tue 27-Sep-16 12:36:01

Government should take all people's voices into consideration

No actually they don't have to. Democracy is just as much about voting against what you don't want as voting for what you do want. If a government is voted in from a platform of reducing the deficit by cutting public spending then they are under absolutely no obligation to listen to 'voices' which are demanding otherwise. They're answerable to the electorate, and it would appear from polling that to the electorate this is still much more preferable to any alternative offered by Labour. Plus if a government tried to satisfy everyone we would never achieve anything which makes it a ridiculous suggestion in the first place.

Elections give the winner the right to act on the behalf of the whole of the electorate, not the right to do whatever their supporters want irrespective of the needs and desires of those who oppose them.

But they believe their policies offer the best prospect for the electorate so they are acting for the whole electorate. And yes, acting in the way their supporters wish is exactly what they have a right and even a duty to do. It's called a mandate.

In terms of the same applying to the left wing, would you be insistent that a Labour government should be acting to satisfy UKIP or BNP posters?

This isn't really a matter of you believing that governments should satisfy the whole electorate is it? It's a matter of you
believing that the government should always satisfy the sector of the electorate to which you belong. I think you're deluding yourself if you believe otherwise.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 27-Sep-16 12:42:01

Have you considered the possibility that most people whether right or left wing consider all echelons of society to be equally important.? They just disagree on the best methods to achieve long term fairness in society.

Why don't Head teachers and LEA bosses say a flat 'No' to excessive paperwork and unrealistic progress demands? I am a school governor. Which excessive paperwork do you want us to say no to?

Lots of ordinary people would say drop "PC nonsense" paperwork monitoring stuff to do with diversity: race, sex, wealth, SEN. Others want "paperwork" do to with monitoring pupil progress dropped, or teacher performance. What about all the safeguarding paperwork? I've heard a lot of moaning from people whose families have no safeguarding issues that it is a load of nonsense all that stupid paperwork, all those forms about photo permissions, who is allowed to pick up the child from school, chasing up why little Johnny is late to school so often, pfft. Shall we drop that excessive paperwork?

And which excessive progress demands do you want the schools to drop? Would you seriously stop asking schools to improve outcomes for their pupils? Do you really think all the schools and pupils in the UK are performing at their peak? Where do you think we should set the bar between sensible and "excessive" progress demands? Can a HT at a crap school say "Pfft, my pupils are too poor and stupid to achieve what you demand. We're going for less."

People who do not support Jeremy Corbyn are not all from the lizard elite wanting to crush poor people underfoot and bring back medieval serfdom. I think he is unelectable. I think he is unelectable because most people believe that his methods of trying to help people will actually hurt everyone more in the end. And most people don't want that. I've thought about it a lot. I am not un-assertive. I am not afraid to challenge. I do it for a living and it is in my personality. I don't consider JC unelectable because I am a little mousey stupid yes woman who can't think for herself. I'm not an evil lizard either.

In my life I really don't see being assertive and challenging norms is viewed with such negativity when occurring at influential levels of discourse I see quite the opposite. You don't get anywhere near the influential levels of discourse unless you are assertive and challenging.

Just shouting "No, I won't!" or "Stop the Tory cuts!" or "Tony Blair is a war criminal!" or "JC is stuck in the 1980s!" isn't being assertive or challenging. It's just aggressive posturing without any actual solutions being offered.

Assertiveness happens in policy detail. It is boring. There are no easy answers. There are very few evil cackling villains stroking white cats in Whitehall or in senior leadership anywhere. They are mainly trying to do the right thing and it is really really hard.

I'm intrigued about what inspired this thread for you? Have you recently tried to challenge accepted norms somewhere? Were you knocked back? Do you have the answer to how to make everything brilliant and everyone equal?

myownprivateidaho Tue 27-Sep-16 13:35:15

Why don't Head teachers and LEA bosses say a flat 'No' to excessive paperwork and unrealistic progress demands?

Because people in a management role have a different perspective on these things from people providing the service? (And not always a worse perspective...)

Why don't councillors and MPs for each borough say 'No' to funding cuts that will compromise their ability to provide appropriate services for their constituents and firmly tell Ministers to rethink their budget (please let's not pretend the money isn't out there)? Why don't board members of the NHS do the same? If they all did, the government would have no choice but to serve the public interest rather than its own.

Councillors and NHS members aren't part of the decision-making machinery. You might as well say, "why didn't you say no to your employer when he refused you a pay rise?"

MPs, well obviously this is more complex -- but there are pressures on MPs to vote a certain way, both because of general political dealmaking and because the party whip is telling them in no uncertain terms that they will get passed over for X if they don't do Y.

Re Jeremy Corbyn -- surely he's a prime example of someone who doesn't listen to what people beneath him are saying? He has a mandate, so I personally think it's fine that he is trying to impose his vision, but his appeal is precisely that he is heavily ideologically driven and doesn't go along with the party consensus!

BillSykesDog Tue 27-Sep-16 13:53:06

Rabbit you've said what I was trying to say more eloquently. It's very interesting to hear that from your perspective as a school governor.

DoNotBlameMeIVotedRemain Tue 27-Sep-16 14:47:46

I'm a civil servant involved with advising ministers. As part of our job we do we do say that:

Something is difficult to deliver
Has legal issues
Is illogical from a policy perspective
Will be very costly
Will be popular or unpopular with certain groups
Will affect certain groups disproportionately

Ultimately the minister makes the decisions.

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