The Slugger Awards 2008: The Jobsworth award

This final category in the awards is by way of a big thank-you to all of our regulars. Over the past month, announcing each award, we’ve been fairly draconian towards negativity, preferring to highlight the positive. While many of the commenters felt individually aggrieved that we’ve deleted a piece of well-founded criticism, five years of managing Slugger’s comments has told me that negativity can be like bindweed. If you leave it untended, it engulfs everything. So it is with relief that I am now directing you to our final category: The Jobsworth Award.Have you come across a public official – elected or otherwise – that has ducked the big question? Who has sat on their hands when common sense dictated that they should have taken responsibility in return for their salary (Fat or otherwise) ? It doesn’t have to be individuals either: It could be organisations.

We’re looking for examples of bureaucratic evasion and/or procrastination. Where an arcane procedural manoeuvre has been used to pass the buck or cover an arse. Have you seen officials scrabble around for little-known rules to justify some dereliction of the public interest?

In the local authority award category, I mentioned Hazel Blears’ conviction that local authorities have a duty to promote local democracy. It is a source of constant amazement that local government has people – at its senior levels – who quietly disagree with this.

I’d go further – every public body should be seeking to engage with the widest range of public opinion, and should be working with politicians to ensure that they have ‘the wisdom of crowds’ at their disposal.

Have you seen any half-hearted tick-box consultations? Ones that were underpublicized framing exercises designed to meet pre-ordained conclusions? Which council has done the least to involve the public in decision-making, or to help councillors to communicate with citizens more effectively?

Finally, an important note. M’learned friends agree with me that this can’t be an excuse for gloves-off slagging. Please please please ONLY nominate for this award on the basis of something that has already been published, and something on which the accused has already had a right of reply already. DO NOT use this comments box to flesh out an untried conspiracy theory. There are plenty of examples of what we are looking for already in the mainstream media, elsewhere on Slugger or on other blogs.

You will have noticed – often to your slight annoyance – that Slugger tries to be fair at all times. Again, this award is not here to help anyone to pursue long-held personal grievances. Our aims with these awards is to promote better quality governance – not to deploy cheap ‘gotchas.’

There are no shortages of ‘jobsworths’ that have been well-and-truly outed already. This award is about finding the best of them. We’re policing this thread keenly as always. It makes for a better set of awards.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty