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Bossybabe

Ministers 'trying To Dismantle The Public Appointments System'

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The current system was supposed to be progress and was supposed to counter the jobs for the boys and the old boy network system - they were bound to try and reverse it at some stage.

Even so somehow or other they still managed to fill whole swathes with placemen but clearly that's still not enough for them.

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Positions for your lackeys used to work in the Navy (the entire system was based around that), but then you lost all credibility if you kept shoving useless people in, so it paid to do your best to get the best lackeys possible for the job. A system that would seem corrupt by today's standards can still work if it has to get results, that it doesn't is the problem.

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Yes, I remember that from my Navy days. But it did all become a bit too elitist and who one knew rather than what one knew. Nowadays it's a lot more democratic.

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Yes, I remember that from my Navy days. But it did all become a bit too elitist and who one knew rather than what one knew. Nowadays it's a lot more democratic.

You're that old? I was thinking more of 200-odd years ago, when it was all entirely official and recognised as being the system, rather than it being something else on paper but not in reality.

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Not 200 years old, though I sometimes feel it. In the '70s it was much less democratic. The old boy network was almost as bad as in the medical profession.

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Not 200 years old, though I sometimes feel it. In the '70s it was much less democratic. The old boy network was almost as bad as in the medical profession.

I think that it works (or worked) when performance really matters, so that if you just stuff other members of the old boys network into the wrong place and they do badly then you'll lose all credibility yourself. That might only be possible when that's openly recognised as being how the system is supposed to work. If it's open on paper but not in reality (and isn't directly tried in the real world very often) then you've got a recipe ripe for corruption; the incentive to try to find the most competent people to hang around with and reward has been replaced and there's no come-back on you when they fail. The degeneration of such a system is probably inevitable when the results aren't being constantly tested (go back in time they would've always been, even in peactime, since the necessity of good seamanship was always too obvious if everyone wasn't to die).

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Apart from the considerations you outline, nowadays it's not legal to favour candidates for any reason other than their suitability to do the job based on a person spec. Difficult to defend in tribunal if you don't use one.

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I think that it works (or worked) when performance really matters, so that if you just stuff other members of the old boys network into the wrong place and they do badly then you'll lose all credibility yourself. That might only be possible when that's openly recognised as being how the system is supposed to work. If it's open on paper but not in reality (and isn't directly tried in the real world very often) then you've got a recipe ripe for corruption; the incentive to try to find the most competent people to hang around with and reward has been replaced and there's no come-back on you when they fail. The degeneration of such a system is probably inevitable when the results aren't being constantly tested (go back in time they would've always been, even in peactime, since the necessity of good seamanship was always too obvious if everyone wasn't to die).

Brings Sir Cloudesley Shovell to mind.

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Apart from the considerations you outline, nowadays it's not legal to favour candidates for any reason other than their suitability to do the job based on a person spec. Difficult to defend in tribunal if you don't use one.

True, but I'm not actually persuaded that the modern system is fundamentally better (fairest doesn't necessarily mean best). The big advantage of the old boy's network type approach is that you've got a much better idea of who you're putting in the position. How can you trust someone you don't know to do an important job?

Mind you I'd get totally screwed over, since I'm no good at, and can't stand trying to do, the whole networking getting-to-know-people business.

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Fine if you're the 'old boy'. However if you're not and, say, come from a completely different background but with similar qualifications and experience, you won't be considered. The organisation also misses out.

Edit to say: reputation, references and judgement. I've been at it decades and don't pick problems.

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Fine if you're the 'old boy'. However if you're not and, say, come from a completely different background but with similar qualifications and experience, you won't be considered. The organisation also misses out.

Edit to say: reputation, references and judgement. I've been at it decades and don't pick problems.

That's what it degenerates in to. Go back long enough and it was very much in the interest of those more senior to go out and find promising younger people and develop them and in the future put them in position. The "old boys" was really the starting point for that, and whilst significant certainly not the entirety (it became more so later, which is when it started to suffer, particularly as it all became more class-concious).

The probability of missing out on talent with a different background was higher, the chances of picking a dud by random possibly lower. I'm not necessarily advocating a return to such a system (particulary since these days self-interest and greed seem more prevalent than ever) but I don't think that it's anywhere near as bad as modern sensibilities would make out.

Have a read of "The Wooden World" by N A M Rodger if you get the chance, it discusses how it all worked in the mid 18th century, both strengths and weaknesses, and is a very interesting book anyway.

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That looks like very interesting holiday reading for me! Thanks for the recommendation.

I guess that back in those days the field of well-educated candidates was proportionately much smaller than it is today.

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I can see why they want to change the system. When you look at the people who are appointed there's a strong more state is always good / common purpose bias (based on the applicant pool not on any kind of conspiracy nonsense). Having said that, there's got be a better approach than allowing ministers to hire their mates no questions asked.

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