So you work in the public sector. You're anxious, to put it mildly, about what the ConDem cuts will mean for you. Kids at (or hoping to attend) university, with all the costs to think about, mortgage not yet paid off, partner worried about his/her own job, there's a lot to consider. And then along comes someone who enjoys an annual salary of £200,000 per annum, having received a 25% pay increase just a year or so back, to tell you that you're "bone idle" (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2010/09/16/merseyside-fire-chief-tony-mcguirk-urged-to-quit-after-branding-public-sector-staff-bone-idle-92534-27278640/ & http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-11310942 ).
Tony McGuirk, chief fire officer for the Merseyside Fire Brigade, made the remark at a meeting organised by the right-wing thinktank Reform earlier this year. It has only just come to prominence after they were highlighted at the TUC conference in Manchester on Tuesday.
Evidently thinking himself qualified to opine on the entire public sector workforce, McGuirk opined: "We've got some bone idle people in the public sector. There, I said it -- bone idle people."
Yes, this character who clearly feels he's an authority on all things beyond his remit did say it &, well, it certainly speaks volumes about the intellectual capacity of the man.
Another indication of McGuirk's managerial foresight & sagacity came a few years back in a Q&A for the Guardian. The latter half of the piece is, by turns, ironic & revelatory (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/sep/12/guardiansocietysupplement2 ):
"Describe your own management style.
Hopefully transformational. I'm trying to move the organisation forward in a way that brings people with me.
What's the secret of effective teamwork?
Recognising that teams shouldn't be clones of their leaders, that you need difference and diversity to do an effective job.
What's the best piece of management advice you've been given?
An old divisional officer of mine said the secret of leadership is knowing when to be invisible. It's easy to hog the limelight and overshadow other people's achievements. Yopu have to step back.
Who is your management guru?
I don't really have one but I do admire Willy Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, for doing a tough job with good humour and a lot of charm."
It's a pity that McGuirk didn't recall the advice to be "invisible" & not "hog the limelight" simply in order to make crass, inaccurate & risible claims.
There is, of course, a wider political context to this sad case of a jumped-up middle manager putting the world to rights. McGuirk made his comments at a Reform meeting. Far from being "independent", as some of today's media have reported, it is, in fact, very much to the right of centre, as it acknowledges on its website (http://www.reform.co.uk/About/Ourvision/tabid/63/Default.aspx ):
"We believe that by liberalising the public sector, breaking monopoly and extending choice, high quality services can be made available for everyone. Reform would remove public services from the escalator of ever-rising costs. It would enable policy makers to aim for a lower level of taxation and public spending which would better suit the UK's current and future economic challenges."
As Merseyside's firefighters put their lives on the line, they can take comfort in the knowledge that their boss gives support to those who wish to "liberalise" the public services, with everything that entails for their jobs, whilst playing the shirkers card.