Ritchie calls for the National Stewardship Service


First, it put profit first. As a result it has cut corners. That\’s not what public service needs. We all know that. They just graphically prove it.

Second, they show short termism is a disaster. You can\’t expect to recruit and train people whilst imparting useful skills in a short time scale. The people involved know they are being treated with contempt; the service standard that follows is contemptuous. The same is seen wherever this logic is used.

Third, the logic of recruiting people a few weeks before the games and sacking them immediately thereafter shows that the logic of cheap labour inherent in outsourcing is dependent upon mass unemployment and the expendability of people. No wonder the Tories are doing nothing to tackle unemployment. Their friend\’s business models are dependent upon it.

But most of all, nothing of real value comes from this. When the only definition of value is cash profit nothing of real value to the people involved, the community they serve or of lasting relevance is created.

The state has the ability to create that value through commitment. Outsourcing does not. Which is why it is a disaster.

An entirely temporary demand for 20,000 (or whatever) stewards should not be met by hiring 20,000 temporary stewards.

Nope, an entirely temporary demand for 20,000 stewards should be met by government hiring directly 20,000 permanent stewards. You know it makes sense for outsourcing and short termism don\’t work.

What makes it all so very strange indeed is that Ritchie has made part of his living for more than a decade through freelance writing. Which is indeed outsourcing of labour according to temporary demand.

Should we be calling for a State Writers Service or something? Various places have done it after all…..

24 thoughts on “Ritchie calls for the National Stewardship Service”

  1. Given that it is the summer holidays, this would be a perfect job for all of those university students looking for some beer money for next year.

  2. Also, Ritchie is arguing against himself. According to Marx, the establishment of the Socialist Utopia is dependent upon the creation of an unemployed immiserablata (sp?) as the PBI of the battle to defeat Capitalism.

  3. Who did we used to get to steward large public events before the neo-liberal Thatcherite 1980s privatised everything ?

    Was there a nationalised stewards industry back in the 1960s and 70s?

  4. And yet, the last project I was on did just fine with hiring a build manager for 4 days and a database performance specialist for 2 days.

    The problem had nothing to do with short-termism and everything to do with the state failing to monitor their suppliers. You think Apple just tell Foxconn to go and build the next iPhone and wait for them to arrive the day before release?

  5. We do have a standing body of security personnel, which we call the army. And as I understand it, the army is indeed going to fill the need. If that works, why did we pay G4S to do it in the first place?

  6. “Should we be calling for a State Writers Service or something?”

    I’m sure that is what he means.

    A remarkable number of the people in my field (publishing) think that they should be paid to write or illustrate by some fairy Godmother-like government agency.

    That whole, ‘needing to be liked by enough readers to be financially viable’ is sooo trade.

  7. @PaulB: because there probably isn’t enough army left these days to do it really, if truth be told. The 3500 they’ve just mustered up at short notice are most likely supposed to be doing something else, such as be training, or on rest period after active service tours, or doing other non active service (but necessary) army functions. So all those things will not get done while we send them to stand around looking for ‘terrorists’ at the Olypmics.

    And some poor soldier will cop a bullet or bomb in Afghanistan and die, possibly because his training was insufficient, or he had to go back on active service with no real rest period, or his kit wasn’t correct because the logistics people had been sent to the Olympics and didn’t have time to get the right kit out to him.

    Great stuff.

  8. @6 &8
    Anyone an idea of what the cost of a soldier is? Training & ongoing through his period of service? I’d hazard it’s way north of a £1000 p/d And the time they’ll be spending doing security at the fun’n’games has to come from somewhere. The leave requirement still has to be met. The training done. Few soldiers, these days, sit around doing nothing.
    That’s real money spent. Bloody expensive way of providing security.

  9. I think short-termism on a short term project is quite sensible, but then I am not a loony Marxist.

  10. “Who did we used to get to steward large public events before the neo-liberal Thatcherite 1980s privatised everything ?”

    Well we had somehting called decency, manners, shame etc, before the left decried them then imported masses of uncivilized pondscum…

  11. I think it is great to get the army involved despite the concerns raised above. In the UK, away from the main military bases it is rare to see a man or woman in military kit. This is not good. We need to see these people and they need to see us so that we realise that these are the people we are sending to die on our behalf. In France the military take the trains and you see them all the time at the stations. There is no fear about wearing uniform in public which there seems to be in the UK.

  12. “…then imported masses of uncivilized pondscum…”

    eh? Who? When? Thatcher encouraged the breakdown you ignorant tool.

  13. The cost/benefit of a few temporary staff/army personnel pales against the cost/benefit of the whole Olympic boondoggle. Any one for ‘2012’?

  14. @Fred

    “In the UK, away from the main military bases it is rare to see a man or woman in military kit.”

    With some notable exceptions. Wimbledon, for instance, is stewarded by uniformed military.

  15. in Kipling’s day, there were establishments that refused to serve military personnel in uniform…and I believe that there are still like-minded establishments today.

    And, PaulB, I would be interested in seeing the justification behind your unstated claim that the army is composed of people idly waiting around to do useful jobs?

  16. You misunderstand me; I don’t know whether the army should be doing this. But it seems to me that if the army has the manpower for it it should have been given the job in the first place, and if it hasn’t it shouldn’t be asked to do it now. The gap between is rather small.

  17. @6
    Soldiers aren’t security personnel, they are warfighters. In fact in this country we have fought very shy of using soldiers for internal security ops. N Ireland might have seemed like that but it was essentially an undeclared war rather. As for doing that to make them more visible, do we really want soldiers to be seen as a sort of alternative (armed?) police force. That really is not & should not be their role, even for the Stratford Follies.

  18. Soldiers are trained for war. A few (MP) are trained for security.
    Can have problems with using troops for civilian security – Bloody Sunday is probably the most extreme example but there have been others over the years. And like civilians, soldiers used for security need training. The difference being the warm bodies already exist in employment, so can be deployed to fill the warm body requirement.
    Don’t get me wrong, I support the armed forces. I just don’t think using them for games security (as opposed to military support of games such as reaction forces, manning military equipment etc) is as good an idea as some seem to think.

  19. But that is precisely what happened in the 1960’s & 1970’s – I would think that the organisations, especially if they were in the Public Sector simply hired more people than needed and then employed them to do nothing when not required. Who can forger classics such as the National Dock Labour Scheme, or indeed the shenanigans in British Leyland in the 1970s?

    The answer would be ‘The Uk’s Number 1 economics blogger’ (oh, I forget his lapdog Arnald, who could probably do with some permanent employment, possibly as a perpetual student actually learning some basic economics) – Tim, apparently according to the comments on the last entry you were mentioned in on his blog, ‘Perhaps you know he’s right, and you’re very, very worried’ – any comment?

  20. In the UK, away from the main military bases it is rare to see a man or woman in military kit.

    We have this historical aversion to being targeted by terrorists. Most of the seniors remember the PIRA / Continuity threat, most of the juniors are fully aware of the ongoing Islamist (and general unpopularity of Blair’s wars) threat.

    his lapdog Arnald, who could probably do with some permanent employment

    Surprisingly enough, he does. The busking is just a sideline. Hopefully a more competent one than his economic analysis.

    Actually, my son would be more competent playing the bagpipes than Arnald is with economic analysis, so it’s hardly Olympic hurdling.

  21. PaulB,

    An entirely logical position. And no, you don’t use highly trained, highly skilled troops for checking bags.

    The Olympics is just fucking insane. Paying billions and riding roughshod over free speech to get a load of sports that have little public interest. Running sports days is just the last thing government should be involved in.

  22. Excellent news. A shortened version of RM’s post is now on Liberal Conspiracy, where he can’t censor comments. Sunny is always up for a fight. Off you go…..

  23. And no, you don’t use highly trained, highly skilled troops for checking bags.

    What’s the point in having troops? Answer: deterrence.

    We don’t need to be having soldiers blown to bits in Afghanistan in order to prop up a corrupt government that’s slightly less awful to live under than the Taliban in the two or three big towns where it has any power whatsoever.

    We do need to have a large enough military presence that anyone considering invading the UK or one of our allies will think again. The Falklands now compared to 1982 are a great example: in 1982, there was no real military presence, so invasion was a piece of piss for Argentina. Now there’s a state-of-the-art airbase and 2,000 troops, so any talk of invasion is nonsense sabre-rattling.

    If we stopped doing ludicrous crap like Afghanistan, we’d need to have a decent-sized army lurking about the place, and they wouldn’t have all that much to do most of the time. At which point, guarding Sports Day seems like a completely legit plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *