I should jolly well think so

Elected politicians are often accused of arrogance, and if the truth were known, this if a pitfall most of us need to watch out for: there is often a thin line between standing up for one's beliefs, and arrogance.

But if elected public servants have to watch out for this problem, that is as nothing to the temptation to arrogance which can afflict senior unelected public servants. And I can think of no better recent illustration than the fact that David Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for tax at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), had to be ordered to apologise after it turned out that 5.7 million people have been charged too much tax or too little.

You really would expect that someone who is paid a £160,000-a-year salary (bigger than David Cameron's) would appreciate the crass insensitivity of his pre-recorded comments on Radio 4's Money Box programme, when he was asked if he would say sorry to those facing unexpected bills, and replied "I'm not sure I see a need to apologise."

If it is true that George Osborne was "incensed" by this, he was quite right to be.

So when I heard that Mr Hartnett had belatedly issued a personal apology, apparently on the orders of the Chancellor, I thought, "I should jolly well think so."


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020