This is unhelpful on a fairly fundamental level to people like me. Though I’m very much on the side of my employer on almost every issue, and don’t know the kind of exciting secrets that anyone would wish to hear, I enjoy reading blogs by people working on the real front line of public services. I am particularly aware of the value those have in bringing to light the reality behind the debates, targets, and tractor production statistics that public services often become in Westminster and Whitehall.
I worry that the reasons given for clamping down on public sector bloggers (and shame, shame and thrice shame on The Times for being an instrument of Nightjack’s downfall) has as much to do with the power some of those bloggers have to communicate with the public over the head of politicians – to tell them that they aren’t mad when they think police targets and procedures are skewed and get in the way of real crime prevention and detection, or that access to healthcare services doesn’t run on the 48-hours to see a GP and 2-weeks to see a consultant who you can “choose and book” model – as it does with the stated reasons.
We have protection, up to the point of statute, for public sector whistleblowers who want to draw the attention of those in positions of influence to wrongdoing by going over the heads of their direct managers, and if necessary to the media. Why do we have nothing to protect those who want to draw the attention of the public at large to whole-system failure? The judge ruled that the public interest in Nightjack’s name was an overriding factor. What about the public interest in hearing about how their taxes are being spent, and how they are or are not being protected from crime?
Hopi proposes an e-mail campaign asking The Times to apologise. I endorse this product and / or service.