There is no comparison between public service and private enrichment. Let us stop making one so as to attract “the right stuff” into public service.
“There may come a time some day when the country will have to face the question of paying the great heads of the Civil Service on a commercial basis. There is a constant temptation, and it is only those who, like the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), myself and others who have had some experience, know what the temptation is. Great commercial undertakings are constantly trying to lure away our great Civil Servants by offers not of the same salary, not of twice, but of five or ten times the amount that they are receiving as Civil Servants. Some of them, for family and other reasons, succumb to the temptation, but most of them resist it. But there is an element of honour in the public service which will always be some sort of contribution and make towards the retention of these great public servants. When we offer £400 a year as payment of Members of Parliament it is not a recognition of the magnitude of the service, it is not a remuneration, it is not a recompense, it is not even a salary. It is just an allowance, and I think the minimum allowance, to enable men to come here, men who would render incalculable service to the State, and whom it is an incalculable loss to the State not to have here, but who cannot be here because their means do not allow it. It is purely an allowance to enable us to open the door to great and honourable public service to these men, for whom this country will be all the richer, all the greater and all the stronger for the un-known-vicissitudes which it has to face by having here to aid us by their counsel, by their courage, and by their resource.” –
The UK CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (David Lloyd George) moving his Payment of Members motion, HC Deb 10 August 1911 vol 29 cc1365-4831365
I was listening to an interview on RTE Radio 1 this morning with the Ceann Commhairle of the Dáil. He mentioned that he received many complaints from citizens about the boorish behaviour of some TDs. He worried about the impression that this behaviour gave to thoughtful citizens. He also said that he had taken aside some of the TDs who indulged in shouting and abuse, and told them that in terms of gathering support, what they were doing was counterproductive that people were not impresssed and were critical. He is wrong.
There are citizens who reject talk, debate, reasoned argument. Indeed they despise politics. They don’t want to change society. They want someone to stand up for them, to shout for them, to put the boot into all that they despise.
It is true that most of these people – though not all – are poor. It is also true that they are not working class but that’s an argument for another day. The point is that there is an appreciative audience for abuse and there are politicians who aspire to lead cynicism and opposition to discursive politics.
The usual objections to gender quotas are that some “right” person won’t be selected because a woman will be preferred or that it will be unfair to a particular man. These might make some sense if we were talking about 50% in a situation not far off 50%. The reality is that participation rates are often so ludicrously small that very modest quotas could make a significant difference.
Let’s take the selection of Dáil candidates. Now, while anything other than about 50/50 is odd, a conservative proposal would be that in a constituency in which a party runs two candidates, one must be a woman.
Did I hear howls?
Ok, ok, calm down. How about the following? In a constituency in which a party runs three candidates, one must be a woman?
Frankly, anyone howling now is opposed to women candidates.
Yes, I did say that anything other than 50/50 is odd! A predominantly male workforce would be odd too. Take the case of hiring staff. If one were recruiting, say, engineers, a reasonable outcome over time would be that one’s staff of engineers would reflect the proportion of engineers who are women. If one were recruiting staff where the educational requirement were, say, leaving cert, a reasonable outcome over time would be 50/50. Because the recruiter is not being asked to achieve anything very much in anything like the short term, any other outcomes would require a special effort!
You see, the size of a proposed quota DOES matter and it is right to call into question the seriousness of anyone who opposes a small quota aimed at making a small difference to a major discrepancy. Yes, I guess there are people who would erect a principle but then there’s no point in talking.