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Will Civil Serf blogger be fired?

A civil servant who wrote an unflinching blog where she described her working life, the image incompetences and inadequacies she regularly encountered, could now be in very hot water for publishing her views.

The Civil Serf blog now seems to have been removed after it was highlighted in today’s Sunday Times, with the headline: "Hunt is on for demon blogger of Whitehall," while the Sunday Telegraph reported: "Blogger lifts lid on Whitehall failings".

Her blog is easy enough to find, and the Times even has a link to it. But the site shows an error message saying the page does not exist. It’s obviously been pulled.

The blogger, known only as a 33-year-old civil servant who attacked the civil service for its lack of innovation – also highlighted incompetences regarding some of our ministers. Here are some extracts:

"Ministers only take decisions at the weekend (probably because they have their spouse and/or political adviser to do it for them)."

Any attempt at developing policies, she says, are hampered by endless meetings: "We are addicted to democratic decision-making at all levels, reflecting… in my opinion the paucity and confusion of leadership in the senior Civil Service." Civil Serf is careful not to name her department, but her disdain for Peter Hain has prompted speculation that she works for the Department for Work and Pensions, formerly his domain.

In one entry from before Mr Hain resigned, she says that she saw a "union bod" ask him why his staff were paid less than in other departments.

"Hain… said, "I didn’t realise that was the case’. Stop Press! I mean, come on, the guy is in charge of the DWP and consequently the largest payroll (excluding the NHS) in Whitehall. He doesn’t know that his staff are on different pay scales to the rest of government? Hello…is anybody home?"

She also claims that Alistair Darling is desperate to use his first budget on Wednesday to garner “a cheap headline” even if means announcing unaffordable new measures. She also has a dig at Gordon Brown, calling him “Velcro” because of the way negative stories have a habit of sticking to him – unlike “Teflon” Tony Blair.

And she puts her own spin on what might be in Darling’s budget: “High up on the list will be both child poverty and incapacity benefit. On these issues the little ‘p’ politics between my director-general and our private office has reached fever pitch with one accusing the other of scaremongering about spiralling costs. I’m getting restricted e-mails, night-time meetings and all sorts of other shenanigans.”

There are said to be suspicions about the blogger’s identity, who only started writing her posts  last November. Her most recent post last week suggests that she knew her blog’s days may numbered. “Knowing my luck it’ll get me fired,” she wrote.

Does this mean that civil servants are not allowed to write blogs if they are critical of their working environment, but presumably it would be ok if they praised their department and bosses? How democratic is that? If she wrote the blog in her own time, would it still be a disciplinary matter? I don’t think any of the comments she made are particularly serious, no big secrets have been revealed. Are other civil servants writing blogs that we don’t know about? 

I sense some material here for a new series of Yes Prime Minister.


35 Comments

  1. There are said to be suspicions about the blogger’s identity, who only started writing her posts last November.
    government school grants

  2. When I used in in the application, I could not add more Panels to it in MXML – so this would cause a compiler error:

  3. I have known that about DWP for years.Pensioners are being screwed,every which way and ever,screwed by energey suppliers and the water,and Darling does’nt give a damn.So who do you vote for,some of us a living on a pittance while the young are screwing the state.I hope that Labour gets caned in May.Darling is a thief.

  4. anonymous

    Ellee, I am so sorry to bother you with so many details. They must be tiresome for you.
    I’ve dug around your bios, etc, and your contacts.
    Sorry to waste your time.
    More sorry to waste mine.
    I understand now that you are part of the problem, rather than being part of the solution.
    At best this blog could be called part of the venting system.
    I would say that you are not sorry that I am disappointed in your inability to “help”, still, it helped perpetuate your image for your visitors.
    Truth is, whatever your front, you couldn’t give a rats. And anyway, you wouldn’t want to disturb a lucrative hornets nest now, would you?
    Oh well.
    Don’t bother to reply, you’d be wasting your time only.
    I won’t be returning as I don’t frequent frauds.
    If you do choose to reply however, your readers must realize you are doing it to fool them, retain their visits.

  5. Steven_L

    It’s hardly news that management of large organisations are often entrenched and ineffective.

    I’ve worked in both the public and the private sector and you see the same thing across the board. These are hardly revelations, I would never slag off my employer on a blog unless I thought it was in my own economic interests to do so, or I didn’t care about my job.

    Presumably she has a husband that is prepared to support her or thinks she can make money writing.

  6. I’m afraid I have very little sympathy for civil serf. It is very difficult for a government to function, especially in todays media driven world, if it cannot rely on the discretion of the civil service. Although as a conservative I find it amusing to read some of what she has written, I simply don’t think she should expect to be able to do this with impunity. I say sack her!

  7. Sorry that should of said RBS Williams F1 conferencing centre.

  8. Just like Sally in Norfolk my job comes with rules and regulations and I had to sign something to say I could not talk/discuss about our company or any other company within Formula 1. I am a Hostess/Waitress for the RBS conferencing Centre..

    Sally is right, don’t play the rules and your out…

  9. All jobs… even mine, come with rules and regulations break these rules and you must except the outcome.

  10. I suppose she was stepping over the edge but the only thing that came into my mind as I was reading was what turned out to be your final sentence, Ellee. Yes, Minister. Surely no-one is surprised?

    Re-reading it, probably she did say too much, A little name-changing, a little fictionalising, a little humour might help?

  11. I’m a civil servant. I blog. But I do it with the clear understanding of what is expected of me, the terms and conditions of my job that I signed up to, and the civil service code.

  12. I blog anonymously but I’m self-employed — and I’m careful not to discuss even ex-employers in sufficient detail to identify them… or me. How much more difficult it must be to blog anonymously about employers — any employer — it surely must be fraught with peril.

    Even if no official secrets are involved and civil service protections may get her reinstated after a long court battle, I don’t think that such a blog can really be tolerated. If nothing else, it violates an expectation of confidentiality that coworkers should have when brainstorming new ideas (some of which may, on consideration, be entirely daft) or expressing frustration about a supervisor.

    In America, disgruntled civil servants don’t blog — they cultivate newspaper reporters and leak their superiors to death. If they rank high enough in the pecking order, they quit and write their back-stabbing memoirs….

  13. I should add that they will want to avoid firing her as they can’t control her any more. ( Or if they can we are already in a socialist police state.)

  14. The full weight of the parasitic civil service and its socialist masters will be weighing down on this poor individual.

    The deletion of the blog is perhaps evidence of this.

    They will want to control her – stop her getting on TV and publishing a book for the Christmas best seller list.

    I hope she can resist. I for one will buy her book if it comes out.

    Stand firm.

  15. S Bloggs, hear, hear, I’m with you all the way on this. Thanks for your comment.

  16. the Official Secrets Act is only for the National interest or security. This was amendment/clarification was implimented about 10 years ago.
    As the Civil Serf blogg does NOT come within these peramiters. she should NOT be disciplined. BUT…We are in a dictatorship who will not be critasised. We MUST do all we can to defend and support this brave woman. I am a very ex-Civil Servant and understand who agrees with her satements.

  17. the Official Secrets Act is only for the National interest or security. This was amendment/clarification was implimented about 10 years ago.
    As the Civil Serf blogg does NOT come within these peramiters. she should NOT be disciplined. BUT…We are in a dictatorship who will not be critasised. We MUST do all we can to defend and support this brave woman. I am a very ex-Civil Servant and understand who agrees with her satements.

  18. Anonymous, I’m sorry if I have disappointed you. I heard the Radio 4 programme yesterday about regional assemblies which was very scathing.

  19. very interesting Ellee. Bet the script writers are out!

  20. I think blogging provides a valuable ‘insiders’ view on all kinds of public sector jobs. The public deserve to know about what really goes on, but I’m not surprised that employers are fighting back.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  21. The Norm

    The first civil servant blogger to be sacked was in Wales, however, no one knows his/her name.

  22. “Velcro” – I like that

  23. Anonymous

    Ellee,
    You ask questions like that?
    And you claim to be a professional journalist, among other things?
    WOW!!
    It’s common knowledge in the blogosphere.

    I’ve given you many leads in the above script.
    Just google them.
    Mulgan, Demos, Fabian, Bradford, Falconer, ODPM, Southampton University and internet (main area of research for suppression or control of conversations like this). Any city you care to mention and Common Purpose, Hansard questions and CP, any regional assembly and common purpose.
    Start with CP website, research Julia Middleton with Mulgan, but DON’T believe the CP website bios on Middleton, look further!!!!!!
    Research Mulgan and Fabian, Mulgan and Demos, Demos and Middleton, Middleton and Mulgan, all the previous with Toynbee (original 1930s to get the history) then feed in arts council. Mulgan adviser and No 10. Fabian advisers to HRH queen.
    Middleton funding, Common Purpose funding, Common purpose MP,

    Take the senior industry names from CP Bradford, and google with Bilderberg, Hint, owner of Financial Times, editors of ALL major UK newspapers.

    There is a mine of information if you know how to structure your searches.

    MAP your searches before-hand. Keep careful notes and links.

    Google RAF coltishall with Norfolk planing council, with Graduate placement, with Southwest regional assembly.
    So tell me, why would a regional assembly based in Plymouth be involved in the purchase of an airfield in Norfolk??????
    I’ll give you the answer, – because at that time SW region was the only region fully dominated with CP graduates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Google Plymouth and Common Purpose.
    So, in DEC 2007, what did Jack Straw say in the commons about RAF Coltishall?

    Hint, hint. EU gendarmarie coming to your door soon, at 4am.

    Research base of EU gendarmerie(sp?)in Italy, its USES, spread, and think of Norfolk again, feed in Chad.

    If that lot doesn’t convince you, well!!!!!

    Google RFID chips, and School children and School uniform and dept of education, and Doncaster.

    Heck, the use if RFID chips would be a research project on its own.

    Start connecting the dots.
    Nothing is what it seems in gordons kitchen.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.
    1984 is an instruction manual to these control freaks.

  24. As Welshcakes states, she probably signed a confidentiality agreement and thus is breaking that oath. Even as a teacher, I had to sign agreements that I would conduct myself “honourably” in public. She sure took a big chance blogging about work so openly, so must be prepared to suffer any consequences.

  25. Ellee: How similiar things are here in our wasteful and foolish Congress! One must BLOG anonymously it seems to expose corruption. Still, I enjoy catching The House of Commons debates on the C-Span TV cable channel! I find it humorous when one has stand up and turn their head over their shoulder to address a “right honorable friend” that has just finished chastising them! :D)

  26. Yes, but she had presumably signed the Official Secrets Act and was being well paid – so I don’t think she should have done it.

  27. Anonymous, If you can back up those statements with evidence and contacts, please send me an email.

    Curly, I feel the same way too, another reason to enjoy being my own boss.

  28. Ellee,
    I’m sure she was acutely aware of the risks that she was taking and her latest posts almost hinted at her lack of love with the job, perhaps she has found something else to do.
    If she blogged from the office then one can assume that someone knew exactly who she was, but I doubt she was silly enough to do that.

    At least I don’t have to look over my shoulder in the Corner Shop!

  29. Anonymous

    Such a pity she couldn’t expose the illegalities of Common Purpose.
    A Charity that occupies Government Premises.
    A Charity originally funded by ODPM
    A Charity that ONLY caters for elites, and avoids investigation. (Compare with public schools)
    A Charity who runs courses for Government employees, where those employees receive grants from ODPM slush funds. eg Yorkshire Forward, etc.
    A Charity intimately tied with the Fabian Society and many other of-shoots, also illegally funded by ODPM through cross-directorships, trustee-ships, etc, etc.
    A Charity that operates under Chatham House Rules, – members are sworn to secrecy and instructed to deny membership if asked.
    A Charity originally tied to illegal funding via Falconer financial structures, leading in many directions, including the failed Dome, all coming from ODPM.

    It is long overdue that the finances of Common Purpose, its mandate, its training course details, its membership details, indeed the whole CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY OF ITS EXISTENCE, was torn open and exposed. “Leading Beyond Authority” is its mantra, and its aim is “Post Democratic High-Tech Feudalism” for the 85% of the population. It is an entire “off-balance sheet alternative administration”, in waiting, for when the door slams shut and the EU becomes a reality for the UK, at the time when we are all chipped, counted, filmed and monitored.

    It is nothing more than blatant COMMUNISM AND CONTROL covertly introduced with funding from ODPM, and infiltrating all Regional assemblies, AND EVERY OTHER CIVIL BODY with its “Graduates” and that includes Police, Army, Media, indeed probably you.

    If you are not a member,do your research, Ellee, and become afraid, very afraid.
    There is a totalitarian monster stalking this land, and Brown just loves it.

  30. Companies and governments don’t like blogs that ‘lift the lid’ and will always try to get them shut down.

  31. Your last sentence is apt, Ellee and it’s quite worrying.

  32. A dangerous game to play – especially in the political niche.

    It’s always a tricky one – if you plan to avoid work in your writing they could still say no if you ask.

    One I thought quite carefully about, and I still don’t know if I got the balance right.

  33. It’s nigh impossible to retain anonymity when writing so personally about a government department. I wonder what will happen to her, if we will discover her identity in tomorrow’s papers.

  34. A couple of further thoughts:

    Pulled on a Sunday implies that she may have pulled it herself.

    Just the Alistair Darling stuff should get her sacked from any employer, never mind the government – it is breach of confidentiality.

  35. I gave her six months when I first saw it.

    I think it means that civil servants cannot write want only critical blogs if they are in violation of their contract (conduct bringing employer info disrepute etc.), unless they are bulletproof in their anonymity.

    It seems that she was and wasn’t, respectively.

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