Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Ripping Aside the Cloak of Secrecy (a wee bit...)....

The Daily Mail* is in its usual "Tory Grievance" mode as it reports on David Cameron's decision to release the salary level of the 172 top civil servants who apparently earn more than the PM. The details have been revealed in an attempt to try to justify an assault on mandarins' pay and perks as the Government battles to control the £157billion deficit. Mr Cameron has repeatedly said that those at the top must set an example if the Government is to justify reducing pay and perks across the entire public sector.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will oversee the process – and the creation of a public 'right to data' – at the head of a Public Sector Transparency Board which will also include worldwide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Mr Maude said: 'Openness will not be comfortable for us in government, but it will enable the public to hold our feet to the fire. This way lies better government.'

But not all civil servants who earn more than the PM are named. As John Prescott says here, the promise to "rip off the cloak of secrecy" on public sector wages is not quite completely achieved. Some of the best paid servants in Mr Cameron's own office have somehow, by some oversight, been left off the publication.

For example, there is no information on the wages of one Andy Coulson, ex-Royal Editor at the News of the World, a man who works out of No. 10, who has a chequered career to say the least and who is believed to earn more than three times the PM's wages, has not been revealed.

Why is that, d'ye think? Is not Mr Coulson a public sevant? Do we not pay his wages? If it is right that we should be told the amount we pay the head of the Equality Commission or the Office of Fair Trading, why should we not know the pay level of Cameron's Press Officer (indeed all of his press officers)?

Mr Coulson is not the only member of Mr Cameron's private PR battallion, but we don't know what we are paying for the services of any of them. Maybe "ripping off the cloak of secrecy" is  too broad a metaphor, maybe Mr Cameron meant to say "exposing public servants earnings to prying eyes, so that we can claim to be transparent, but not may mate Andy".

St Augustine famously prayed to God to  make him holy, "but not yet": maybe that was Dave's prayer, "Oh Lord, make us transparent, but not yet...".

* ps. Just learned that the editor of the Daily Mal earns £1.9 million a year.....

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