Public Servants: or are they?

There may be no immediate parallels to the awfulness of Hillsborough and it’s aftermath but if you think about it, there are parallels with the culture that surrounded it. Scotland is every bit as bad as elsewhere in the UK, I am ashamed to say.

  • Public service has become a misnomer; it’s often about public servants serving their own self interest, not the public’s.
  • When mistakes are made, it is rare for public servants to hold their hands up and take the blame. Even rarer is someone falling on their sword.
  • More often than not, mistakes are covered up and the denials start.
  • The ethical public servants are often too scared to blow the whistle for fear of damaging their careers, or worse.
  • The whistle blowers become the guilty and the real guilt is ignored.
  • The bodies that are there to investigate, or there to appeal to, are often more interested in protecting the guilty than anything else. Or so it appears.
  • Even on the rare occasion that guilt is established, nobody carries the can.
  • Trust in public bodies evaporates over time, breeding cynicism among those they should be serving.
  • Perhaps worst of all, the guilty become emboldened by realising they can get away with it, so they continue to do bad things.
  • Democracy itself becomes damaged and the unethical cycle continues.

I have given plenty of examples in this blog of the above and, frankly, I am getting rather tired of the fray but I will not give up. Ethical standards need to improve dramatically if public service is to be what it claims to be. Look at the top 5 leadership traits in the image below and then ask yourself who these traits apply to. I have always considered number 2, humility, to be the most desirable but, sadly, it’s also the least seen.

There’s far too much of what I have described above in Scotland and we need to see change and quickly. There are indications of reform in the 2016 SNP manifesto and these need to be converted into action urgently. If a newly elected Scottish government can’t or won’t do this at the top of their popularity cycle, it might never happen.

It’s up to us, the citizens of Scotland, to make sure reform does happen, so let’s make our views clear after the election next week. And, please make sure you vote next week.




  1. Spot on Mike. Another factor is that many who are promoted to senior positions get there because they are fawning, obsequious individuals who are seen as a safe pair of hands who won’t rock boats. The Police have previous for this. The result is that when serious crises do happen the first reaction of such people is to procrastinate, pontificate, obfuscate and put up the barriers (which is what they always did when in their less senior posts). Addressing problems head on often means rocking a boat or two and that is anathema to such people. Private sector companies empty them when they are discovered but the public services are generally a safe haven unless you confess to murder!

    Jimmy Saville, Rotherham, Rochdale, Baby P, Hillsborough, the list goes on. If “Fred the Shred” had been a public servant he would’ve been simply transferred.

    Hang in there Mike, there are many who support your investigative efforts.

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