Monday, 18 July 2011

An Example Of Our 'Them And Us' Society

This post is not to analyse the resignation of Britain's top police officer, Sir Paul Stephenson, because it's been done far more eloquently here, here and here.

I have no problem with Sir Paul and his wife accepting 20 nights free of charge at Champneys earlier this year because he has friends in handy places. It's reported their full-board stay is reported to be worth around £12,000 - that's what we would be charged - but the spa's managing director, Stephen Purdew, footed the bill.  Sir Paul describes Mr Purdew as a 'personal family friend'.

Not long ago I saw a senior Scottish politician at Scotland's premier health spa. He was occupying the most expensive suite available and it never occurred to me he was there as a 'guest' of the owner. He, very possibly, paid his own account. The cost of treatments there are on a par with Champneys and can easily exceed the cost of accommodation and food.

What does concern me about Sir Paul's leisure activities is part of this statement from The Guardian :

"Following his operations, the commissioner stayed with his wife at Champneys Medical from Monday to Friday over a period of five weeks earlier this year where he underwent an extensive programme of hydro- and physiotherapy. This enabled him to return to work six weeks earlier than anticipated. As with many officers, the Met paid the intensive physiotherapy costs." (my emphasis)

When did the taxpayer start funding intensive physiotherapy costs at expensive health spas for police officers? What proof is there that Sir Paul was able to return to work six weeks earlier solely because he had this treatment at Champneys?

I consider it a gross misuse of taxpayers' money to be paying excessive sums for these treatments in a private spa. We're told repeatedly our NHS is the best in the world - I don't believe that for a minute - so why didn't Sir Paul have treatment on the NHS? If he didn't think the NHS could provide quality treatment, he should have arranged personal private health insurance.  Many military personnel scrimp to pay for their health insurance because they realise speedy, quality treatment is seldom available on the NHS.  They pay for it from their earnings.

Isn't this a small example which proves we have a 'them and us' society when the 'chosen' are entitled to privileged health care courtesy of the taxpayer, yet our military have to pay high fees, if they can afford them, for a similar service or rely upon such charities as The Soldiers' Charity (which was the Army Benevolent Fund) or Help for Heroes for funds to buy artificial limbs of a quality which is not available within our heath service?

There's a definite irony when David Cameron insists 'We're all in this together' while the majority pay for the elite privileges of the few.


Edward Spalton said...

If I heard Sir Paul's statement correctly, he neglected to mention the employment by the Net of a former Murdoch employee as a "consultant" so as "not to embarrass the Prime Minister".

Unless the Constable's oath has been changed to something more PC and touchy-feely, he swore to do his duty

"without fear or favour, affection or ill will" - so he had no business to be more considerate of the Prime Minister than of anybody else when disclosing matters of interest to his employers. the Metropolitan Police Authority.

To accept the large gift of spa treatment shows that he believed himself to be untouchable and that the rules which guide the conduct of ordinary police officers did not apply to his exalted station.

In practice, things are different for members of the Nomenklatura. It used not to be so - although there will always be a few bent coppers. He obviously considered that he was beyond the possibility of being considered influenced by generous gifts - gifts which he only received because of his office.
It's not really a class matter in the traditional sense but the arrogance of the privileged, bloated, tax - eating state sector versus the productive and largely law abiding classes who pay for it.

Woodsy42 said...

I fear the whole edifice of politics and those in authority is completely rotten and totally disconnected from the bulk of the population.
It's beyond my understanding to work out how we should start to sort out the mess.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that people like England's top policeman get things for free because people want to be friends with them. It makes it so much easier to get off with minor crimes if one can trot out "I will mention this to my friend SIR Paul when I dine with him, Tuesday next."

It's always happened and always will. People suck up to power.

Paul Stevenson seems to have lacked judgement... a sad state of affairs for England's premier cop.

He dined with NI executives while his Force was investigating them for serious crime; he accepted hospitality from people associated with them and he employed an ex-NI executive as a personal advisor. He seems to have thought none of this was irresponsible, indeed he indicated his surprise in front of MPs recently.

As for special treatment paid for by the police force. I'll bet it's only those in "command corridors" that get that sort of thing. Your average policeman surely doesn't. Not any of the lower levels that I'm acquainted with at any rate. Even when they are injured in the course of their duties.

Mind you it isn't just in the public sector that this happens. I remember the ever lovely Wayne Rooney being sent to America by his club, to help him emotionally when he was caught with a prostitute. The press coverage was cruel and Man U thought it would be kind to spare him having to read it. (He can read?)

The man could probably buy America, but he was sent there by his private sector employers.

I know that many executives get private health care as part of their package...and not the kind of deal that you or I might get from the company, or indeed afford to buy ourselves. No, they get the 5 star treatment.

I have always been aghast at the poverty of treatment that troops returning from war zones are given at the expense of the taxpayer.

I'd like to know if General Sir Lord Blah de Blah has an ingrown toenail, does he get better treatment that Private McTumshie who's had his arm blown off?

Probably. It's the British way and another of these tenets and values that prime ministers keep telling us we share with the USA.

Anonymous said...

PS: It's a thought that at least Stevenson had to good grace (prompted by Boris) to stand down. (It will be interesting to see what kind of a send off he gets financially.)

Cameron has accepted hospitality from Brookes and employed an even more senior executive than Stevenson's, as his personal advisor, continuing to entertain him at our expense (Chequers) even though he had resigned in disgrace, twice!

I wonder of Boris would like to advise Cam that no one has any confidence in him now and we'd be pleased to accept his resignation.

As my granny would say, "those that flee with the cra's should expect to be shot at".

JRB said...

I think I now know how I am going to make my fortune …

I am about to sit down and write my magnus opus entitled “Murdoch-Gate”, a tale of everyday shallow folk. Naturally I will be selling the film rights to Hollywood for their next blockbuster.

The characters, the plot, the scandals, the political intrigue, all leave your average TV soap or drama trailing in a dim and distant second place.

Who could have thought that a simple family of newspaper publishers could have such a malignant influence on all levels of society? Even the Mafia are impressed.

And what is more exciting is that there are ever more twists and turns to come – its not over yet.

With a good publisher, I will soon be one of them and no longer one of us.

subrosa said...

Good points Edward. I don't mind him getting free B & L from his pal, but I do object to us paying for his 'intensive treatment' when we have a health service which is supposed to provide that.

subrosa said...

Mine too Woodsy but sorted it must be.

subrosa said...

But Tris, we shouldn't be paying such inflated prices for him to have treatment in an elite establishment. What wrong with an NHS hospital or him taking out a private health insurance?

subrosa said...

Football's another matter Tris, because they're not using taxpayers' money. Of course people get private health care packages but I doubt if BUPA and the like would support the cost of treatment at Champneys.

Some military do have private health insurance Tris but they pay for it themselves. It's not compulsory and as far as I know regardless of rank, the taxpayer doesn't pay for it.

subrosa said...

Quite right John and I'm sure you'll find a publisher. There's a young chap, who ran the World Book Night, called Jamie Bing a publisher in Edinburgh.

My cut will be 50% for providing you with access. :)

JRB said...


Normally, I would be delighted to offer you a 50% cut. However, in the present frenetic climate if you were to accept some may consider that to be an attempt by me to elicit undue influence over you.

Your position would be compromised – and we couldn’t have that - now could we? :)

Apogee said...

Hi SR. As events have turned out,"We are all in this together", as spoken by Mr Cameron,in the Westmonster bubble could have a totally different inference than originally intended.
Yes, they are all in this together!

subrosa said...

Agree Apogee, the whole plastic bubble with the plastic people.

English Pensioner said...

"As with many officers, the Met paid the intensive physiotherapy costs.".
I would like to know how many officers received medical treatment at the expense of the MPS and the ranks of those officers.
I can understand, indeed I would expect, them to pay towards the costs of officers injured whilst on duty, but my instinct suggests that these are the officers who are least likely to get any help.

subrosa said...

Oh no John, we couldn't have that, so perhaps I ought to employ a middleman. There will be some journalists who will be willing to take the job I'm sure. :)

WitteringsfromWitney said...

I have put forward my own views on this SR, over at my place - and linked to yours.

subrosa said...

Off to read it WfW.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Well this is turning interesting.

A prime predator in his dotage is turning against the vultures that fed off him and the welfare of the wealthy has gone into full damage limitation mode.

What price now for the integrity of police internal enquiries?

How do we rate an opposition so empty of policy, who now so vociferously bay for the blood the once so assiduously courted.

And an ex PM of the same party and courtship who whines hypocritically that all the blame lies with them for the millions he reduced to the misery of poverty.

And what price now for the integrity of our present incumbents. Is it their incompetent ignorance that's exposed, or their place on the gravy train of free -loading carpet baggers. A train so intoxicated by power it's now threatening to de-rail.

We could,for a laugh have a poll on these questions - but that would serve no purpose - they're too busy at the moment trying to circle the wagons and using judges and suffocating inquiries as brakes.

It's the 2011 version of the Westminster dividend.

Brian said...


"Them" are accorded privileges and perks because there is "a highly-competitive market for world-class leaders" in the private sector and the remuneration package of senior public sector managers must be competitive with the private sector in order to attract the best candidates who will be responsible for £billion budgets and thousands of employees. Thus the honour and duty of high public service is no longer sufficient reward. An example of the "keeping up with the Joneses" was the free central London flat given to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police (upstream from London). This is what a former DAC thinks.

Hamish said...

Agree with every word of your article. I often tend to add a critical comment. In this case not. Spot on.

subrosa said...

The policy enquiries will be of little value Crinkly as a couple of 'sacrifices' have already been made. Stephenson went because he's old enough to be able to live well on what will be his handsome package. A similar situation possibly with his deputy.

There's little or no integrity, all will be planning how they can hold onto their perk-fueled jobs.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that link Brian. I'd read it a few days ago but it was good to refresh my memory.

They're all in it together and we pay their salaries.

subrosa said...

Thanks you Hamish for the lovely compliment.

Anonymous said...

My mention of private sector footballers was in response to Mr Spalton's comment that this kind of thing only happened in the public sector. I was pointing out that it happens in the private sector too (including footballing circles, but only very rich ones). Of course Mr Spalton is right there. It is nothing to do with class, as Rooney's inclusion proves! But many senior people in business organisations have private health care as part of the package.

I was actually agreeing with you that the servicemen who come back from war, often with bits missing are treated appallingly, but I find it hard to believe that generals and admirals, who of course rarely have bits hanging off them, have to endure the same treatment as other ranks.

Edward Spalton said...


I didn't say that this sort of thing only happened in the public sector. The difference is that we are all compelled to pay for this relatively recent introduction of such largesse in the public sector.

In the private sector we can, to some extent, avoid paying such sums by avoiding the products of companies which indulge in the practice. We are not compelled to go to football matches to pay for astronomically rewarded players, nor to buy any of Mr. Murdoch's papers. We are compelled to pay for the BBC and its profligacy if we want to watch television at all.

subrosa said...

As I said Tris I'm not saying this doesn't happen in the private sector but they don't use the taxes of all of us to fund theirs.

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