Fat Cat Culture 112

The Guardian today published a photo of a bit of derelict yard where kids had been playing, as evidence that because of cuts the local council – Blackburn – could not afford a proper playground.

The reason Blackburn council cannot afford a proper playground is nothing to do with cuts. It is because. like most local governments in this country, it blows far too much money on the excellent lifestyles of fatcat senior officers. In the town hall of Blackburn there are an astonishing 16 council officers on over £75,000 per year plus allowances, gold-plated pension, car and benefits.

The chief executive is paid more than the Prime Minister. A council deputy leisure centre manager in Blackburn gets £42,000. A friend of mine is deputy food and beverages manager at a famous Central London hotel – he gets £26,000.

Yesterday saw the British establishment through pomp and show, and a display of jewels looted with violence and rape from foreign cities, announcing policies to worsen the lives of the poorest on benefits, and clamp down further on the immigrants who do so much to keep this ailing economy active. But despite their willingness to attack the vulnerable poor or foreign, what the political class do not do is attack their own. The point of the state is to divert money from the taxpayer to the political class and their paymasters.

The high-ups in Blackburn Council may be bottom feeders within that system of privilege, but boy! their bottoms are certainly getting fed. Doubtless they all take the Guardian, the newspaper of those “living high off the taxpayer” classes. Maybe they could have a whip round from their inflated salaries and build a little playground?

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112 thoughts on “Fat Cat Culture

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  • Komodo

    Monkey see, Cllr. Stan Monkey do. The brother of my district councillor once explained: “Why did N- become a councillor? Because he was no good for anything else.” Not wholly true in all cases; I’ve known some damn good councillors, many of them Tories, and one aristocratic, but as a principle well worth bearing in mind.

  • Davrod

    Yeah, sorry Craig but I don’t think you have really gotten to the bottom of this one, but feel free to keep attacking public sector pay, its not like we actually do anything in our made up new-labour pork-barrel jobs.

    This issue is so small as to be irrelevant in comparison to the mismanagement of the economy and insane behaviour of the bank/regulator/politician axis.

  • Tony Gosling

    Slowly but surely British people are losing faith in the system of which they are part Craig
    The nation is becoming a ‘people farm’ with access to justice denied & with money trumping morals every time
    I would guess this suits the western elite, they are the enemy, and they buy off local gauliters exactly as you describe

  • Herbie

    There’s nothing new in the corruption of public office. Indeed it seems a natural corollary.

    It’s what can you do about it.

    Public offices are now more corrupt than they have been since prior to WWII and we’re probably coming to breaking point.

    Sadly it’s that rather than activism that creates a new beginning of the cycle.

  • Chris2

    “…feel free to keep attacking public sector pay,”

    Is this an attack on public sector pay? I didn’t read it that way. It seems to me to be a justified attack on the enormous salaries given to the higher ranks of civil servants.
    My guess is that, as the pay for the managers increases, the conditions, from wages to contract status, for the lower ranks declines.
    Municipalities have become miniatures of society as a whole: the rich get richer and “those that work the hardest are the least rewarded.”
    It’s a bleeding shame.

  • Giles

    Well said, Craig, but one minor quibble: the whole history of the koh-i-noor, the most famous of the crown jewels, is of plunder by one ruler from another and mostly a lot more violently than the British. See how Nadir Shah acquired the diamond, along with the peacock throne, for example, or how Babur found himself in possession of it, or the Afghan sultans before him, or the Delhi Sultans before them, and so on and so on for many hundreds of years. It is unfair to single out the British in this regard.

  • Guano [was: goo goo]


    These Local Council execs are scared stiff that, with no money to create feel-good and with scyscraper pay packages giving the finger-up to the rest of us, we the public might turn nasty on them. They huddle together as one by one they are eased from their posts like shuttle sections into space. Market forces are upon them, don’t worry.

  • craig Post author


    “This issue is so small as to be irrelevant in comparison to the mismanagement of the economy and insane behaviour of the bank/regulator/politician axis.” Basically I agree, though I would say it is relevant as it is one of the less obvious consequences of the same thing.

    The result of this is that a great many people think they are part of the solution, genuinely un-self-aware that they are part of the problem.

  • Michael Culver

    Ah yes and what a sight it was . An unelected unaccountable free loading fascistic feudal relic who sends her grandchildren to kill third world peoples who have never ever attacked this country.Twelve years genocide in Afghanistan and “Kill a Kid” Cameron burbles on about concluding a peace treaty! Meanwhile the utterly revolting party continues to make the lives of millions ever more heart breakingly difficult while ensuring the paranoid anal retentive 1% get to stuff even more loot up their fundaments. It was as horrible in its way as bush and his history challenged library.However at least the recent High Court ruling re:the Kenyan torture victims might just give the Fuck’em and Castrate’em Office pause for thought if it means that in future thousands will be sueing for damages,maybe illegal invasions will become too expensive? A small hope but one needs a little just now and another ray of sunshine as Stephen Hawking refuses an invite from Israel amid much gnashing of teeth !Keep blogging Craig your country needs your knowledge and insight.

  • Herbie

    Yes, Jives.

    Old wise men.

    Now, I wonder who will admit to having consigned them to the scrapheap, the better to favor ignorant fresh faced youth.

  • OldMark

    ‘My guess is that, as the pay for the managers increases, the conditions, from wages to contract status, for the lower ranks declines.’

    Chris2- my direct experience of the public sector supports your assertion. I’ve known one or two over the years who’ve become ‘fat cats’, most notably here-


    and I’m always reminded of Peter Cook’s comment about David Frost, namely, his having ‘risen without trace’.

    Back when I knew this lady she struck me as competent and level headed, but nothing more. Quite what ‘skills’ she has acquired since to warrant such an exhorbitant salary, or how she has subsequently acquired such a sense of entitlement, eludes me.

    The murky processes that facilitate such a diversion of money to the fat cats at the top are central to the corruption Craig rails against. And, as far as the public sector goes, the ‘Guardian’ and its ‘public appointments’ pages are integral to that process.

  • garye17

    hello craig

    when i think back to my childhood the organised play areas were the most restrictive boring places to play. i enjoyed roaming far and wide with my friends, would walk 6-7 miles each way to go to a falconry centre or go and play in the woods, or go scrumping in the farmers orchard, and yes there were nonces in those days too but not the hysteria of today.
    i followed your link to the gaurdian article and skimmed the comments i had to stop, some of the bs spouted there is just mind numbing. why does everyone seem to expect someone else too sort them out, how is it always someones elses fault, where were all these whiners when their equity was soaring.
    ive worked in the public sector once and my take from it is most dont give a sh1t, do the least to avoid dismissal, and the rot absolutely started at the top. i live in e17 and the only people in the council that earn their wedge are the binmen and street cleaners, the rest broadly, incompetent parasites.
    an old saying those that cant do it become teachers, the fact to back that up the bottom 20% of graduates go into teaching, nuff said, these are the people ‘advancing’ future generations
    people dont have any skin in the game so they dont care, acting like money grows on trees or the gov owes me bs, all gov money comes from private endeavour too many seem to have forgotten that.
    all gov seeks to crush individuality for the ‘greater good’ i dont want gov in my life.
    people of uk you are reaping what you have sown, 30 years of self absorbtion the creation of a welfare gov reliant culture, wilful ignorance and so on, and i repeat the rot starts at the top and trickles down, that is the order of culpabilty as i see it.
    what can one do to fight back – easy money talks, stop watching tv – propaganda and opium, no tvl revenue, you can still watch it on iplayer and listen to radio live, buy secondhand, cut out vat, become self employed (and self reliant) engineer your income tax down to 10%, dont bother voting period there is no choice, bother to make complaints where due – stand up for your rights and pay attention to the world around you etc you get the gov you deserve life is not passive it is ACTIVE

  • Davrod


    Perhaps not as wide an attack as I may have interpreted, but I’m a little twitchy about the subject having watched my personal share of this trough shrink due to increment freezes and job-family re-organisations!


    Yes I agree that it is a consequence of general trend of people with the power to elect their own salaries choosing to raise them, especially under lax scrutiny. I’m just not sure the leisure center manager has this particular power.

  • Mick S

    The interesting thing there is that faced with cuts they still saw fit to take a pay rise. Working in the private sector the over the period of time covered by the linked report I’ve not seen a pay rise. This is public sector pay though, they have to have a pay rise regardless.

    As with pensions and job security its one rule for the public sector and a much harsher one for the private sector.

  • Ali H

    So-called public “servants” use moral blackmail, always claiming the vulnerable will suffer, to grab the dosh used for their salaries and deluxe pensions. Amongst them you will hear legendary tales of the opulence and (believe it or not) inefficiency of the private sector. They are only too happy to screw over the useful, productive, hard working private sector little guys, justifying it if need be with all all the usual hard left petty boogie bull. However, their relationship with the big players in the private sector is quite another thing. They will bend right over, give them all kinds of privilege, in the hope that when, say, Mr Tesco opens yet another megastore the **employees** will contribute to council tax (parse as salaries and pensions).
    The corporate state in this country has been constructed to no small extent by pretend socialists.

  • April Showers

    A Surrey audience applauded a performance of The Pitment Painters loudly this afternoon which was pretty amazing considering it carried a strong socialist message. It is on tour – see it if you can.

    A Workers’ Educational Association pre-WW11 class of miners studying Art Appreciation become painters and receive wide recognition. There is some exploitation and the ending is poignant. They did not know that Thatcher and B.Liar lay ahead for them.


    Pitmen Painters get royal seal of approval – and a gallery of their own
    Seventy years on, Ashington’s proudly unprofessional artists gain respectability

    Would the miners have winced at that Guardian headline? Probably.

  • Jon

    Mick, Ali – I think it isn’t the right response to elevate the private sector as a model of fiscal prudence. ‘Efficiency’ here has generally been in the direction of greater opposition to worker rights and collective representation, and the outsourcing of public sector roles to private, non-unionised, demoralised and fragmented workforces. This in part explains the drop in private sector wages over the last thirty years – it has been very effective at extracting more value for less pay.

    That categorisation however doesn’t apply to the boardroom of course, which contains a small class of people skyrocketing in pay, at the expense of the dwindling salaries of ordinary people.

    It is absolutely right to excoriate the troughers who preside over parts of the public sector and extract as much value from it as they can get away with (they believe and insist, as a class, that high salaries are necessary to “attract talent” such as themselves). I’d suggest therefore the problem is not the public sector, which we should cherish; the problem is when greedy people get hold of it. Like the neoliberal occupation of the Labour party, the discussion should be about how to get it back, and to reverse some of the damage.

  • Indigo

    Well, come on here and at least read a sane posting! The Guardian is driving me to distraction … and where the hell are they getting their below the line posters from? The Daily Mail or Rushbridger’s Twitter followers?

    Having said that I can’t say I feel any less depressed … each nasty little story of corruption/greed/screwing of the poor for the benefit of the rich sickens. And we’ve seen and read it all before … in mediavael history, the writings of Chaucer the paintings even of Holbein … and the rest.

    The history of humankind … from the top down.

  • April Showers

    I thought the most cynical part of the Limp Ic ‘legacy’ was the closure of the athletics track where Jessica Ennis trained.

    The Star –

    SEBASTIAN Coe has defended Sheffield Council’s decision to close down Don Valley Stadium.

    The Sheffield-raised Olympian, who is chairman of the British Olympic Association, said he can understand the decision to close Don Valley – but insisted the case should not be viewed as a blow to the idea of building a positive London 2012 legacy.

    Sheffield councillors confirmed earlier this month that the 25,000-capacity venue, where Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis trains, is to be demolished to save money.

    Jess has spoken of her disappointment at the plan, while her coach Toni Minichiello said he feels ‘gutted and angry’ by the move, claiming it will be a major setback for athletics in Sheffield.

    Commenting on the proposed closure for the first time, Lord Coe said he could sympathise with Sheffield Council’s view of Don Valley Stadium as a drain on resources after it spent £700,000 subsidising it last year.


    Coe is one of the fattest cats, metaphorically speaking.

    How much is Seb Coe paid?

    Coe on marks for £12m image rights deal

  • Indigo

    Mediaeval, of course!

    This blog keeps telling me my UK spellings are wrong and ends up confusing!


  • April Showers

    The pothole kings or jobs for the boys and some girls

    County council top brass earnings over £2m
    May 07, 2013

    SURREY County Council spent more than £2m on the wages of fewer than 20 staff members in the past year.

    Bumper wage packages, funded by the public purse, were paid to top staff in the council, which came under fire for its decision to push up council tax by 1.99% against central government advice.

    The biggest salary was paid to the council’s chief executive, David McNulty, who was paid between £210,000 and £214,999 in his basic wage. On top of that he will have received expenses and pension contributions of more than £30,000.

    The resulting income is more than £30,000 higher than that of Prime Minister David Cameron, who receives a total wage of approximately £207,000.

    Below Mr McNulty on the pay scale come five strategic directors, such as adult social care’s Sarah Mitchell and head of change and efficiency Julie Fisher, all of whom are paid between £125,000 and £145,000.

    The council has increased the number of people paid top wages since the previous year, when just 13 people were paid more than £100,000, at a total cost of £1.62m.

    A total of £11,666,600 was paid in wages to the 170 members of staff who earned more than £58,200 annually for their work. More than 20 of them were paid more than £80,000. The council’s head of communications took home a pay cheque for more than £90,000.

    According to its most recently published statement of accounts, the council had a workforce of more than 38,000 employees at the start of 2012, with more than £539m budgeted for wages.

    Of those employees, 101 were paid between £75,000 and £100,000, 771 were paid between £50,000 and £75,000, 7,057 were paid less than £50,000 but more than £25,000, while 30,339 were paid less than £25,000.


  • April Showers

    Excruciating stuff.


    Perhaps he might be able to take time out from his chats to find out why my e-mail to Surrey CC Highways sent on April 7th has not been personally replied to or any action taken on the five matters raised. I copied it to the local county councillor but all he did was forward it to Highways. That produced nil response. Wonderful this local democracy isn’t it? Laughing in our faces.

  • Indigo

    Well, you know the answer you’ll get if you ask why they’re paid such eye-watering salaries … “because to attract the best we have to compete with the private sector”.

    I honestly have difficulty envisaging many/any of these council employees earning similar sums in the private sector.

  • Jon

    @Indigo, I agree with the general sentiment, although I’d add that the private-sector board-room is also parasitic on working people in just the same way. The idea that the private sector (or the individuals within it) are “better behaved” was firmly proven wrong even before the banker bailouts, in my view.

    I think a maximum package value would be a progressive and sensible measure, probably starting at £150K per salaried appointment, and working downwards whilst measuring its redistributive effects*. And if that sounds too radical for some tastes, I’d consider that a sign that capitalism’s propaganda systems have been (sadly) rather effective.

    * This would be public-sector only to start with, and whilst it would make the wealthy classes squeal about getting the best managers (e.g. council leaders), I would be entirely confident that a less greedy form of talent can be found to fill the gap. They in turn would probably be less pro-privatisation and outsourcing, so perhaps a double-win.

    And for what it’s worth, part two of that project would be applying the same kinds of controls to union leaders too, though I am not sure how that would be achieved in practice. I’m much in favour of collectivisation, but in several cases in the UK today, a wealthy union clique has developed, and I’ve no idea why ordinary members still pay their subs.

  • Andrew Yiannides

    In a true Democracy, as created for modern times, the taxpayers, must benefit from undulterated information, in the first instance andf as matter of established practice.
    The article in itself brings home, to the newspaper’s readers ONLY, the very element that should command consideration by the electorate before casting any votes for any person or any political party.
    The verry newspaper was made aware, decades ago, of the blunt and arrognat abuse of the courts facilities, by the legal circles for imposing on Mr & Mrs Average fraud aplenty, as part of the organised free-for-all care of the long ongoing ‘FRAUD IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM’ (the courts, of course), which the Leader of the -opposition, Tony Blair QC and the Spokeo-Person on Legal Affairs in the House of Commons, Paul Mr Boateng, in July 1995 had no choice but to write back to me and acknowledge the very states imposed on Mrs Average by the legal circles.
    The Guardian was made aware of the very states, as many other newspapers were, of the acknowledgement. However, like other newspapers and theirespective editors elected to bury the realities, I point to at:-
    Sincerely CONCERNED
    Andrew Yiannides
    London – UK

  • Brendan

    “what the political class do not do is attack their own.”

    And this is clearly the point here. Your average public sector worker isn’t especially well-paid. Your carers and cleaners, nurses, etc, simply not that well paid at all. So of course, when the financial crisis hit, the subject was changed to public sector fat cats, in an attempt to smear the public sector in general. There are some PSFC’s, but these are men and women at senior levels, mostly, and anyway no local councillor that I know of ever ruined the economy. On that criterion alone, maybe they deserve a pay rise? Or a Did Not Ruin Economy Due To Insane Narcisstic Greed bonus.

    In another place, I once called America a banana republic, and openly speculated as to whether there had been a silent coup. I was, I admit, being slightly mischevious, and got some online stick for it. However, the coup comment is looking far less mischevious now, isn’t it? And in the UK, I now wonder at the same thing. A dictatorship or managed democracy may have a parliament, as long as that parliament is full of corrupt empty-heads who do what they are told, push come to shove. I think this latter criterion has been met, with distinction.

    It’s bad news every day these days. I hope Assange wins in Victoria, that would be rare good news.

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away)

    like you, when I was a child, I avoided these dismal places called playgrounds (it rhymes so well with paygrounds) as only sissies and morons brought in by their slightly demented parents patronised such places. Hence, I applaud the council officers for their astute decision to spend more money on themselves e.g. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, rather than on something of dubious value that will only corrupt future generations with cheap entertainement to advance molding the childrens minds into a slave-like state.

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