It’s their birthday, and in case you wondered what pearls of wisdom the British Council have been gestating over the past 75 years, I can tell you that you’ll find them on their NEW corporate homepage. And here’s the leading thought:
We believe the world is a more stable place when there is more trust and understanding between its peoples.
Blimey. There are perhaps a few people in Broadmoor who take the view that more understanding and trust between “its peoples” (us) make the world more unstable. In the real world, however, the rest of us can see that this statement from the self-styled cultural relations experts is simply a stupefying platitude from an organisation that must be running out of ideas faster than it is running out of money.
If we apply the logic of this core belief, the organisation itself is likely be a tad less stable today than it used to be, as internal trust and understanding would seem to be on the wane. Hundreds of jobs are to go and, to the dismay of the unions, it would seem that many of these are to be exported to India. Does it matter?
Many thousands of people in the UK have had their jobs exported already, and so we should not weep too many tears for people just because they work for the British Council. But the move does highlight once again the extraordinary anomaly of this organisation, which
a) is directly subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of over half a million pounds per day
b) is awarded contracts by a number of government departments which are not open to any other organisation, thus providing further financial underpinning from the public purse
c) is able to use the enormous benefits of a taxpayer-funded international network of offices, and the use of diplomatic premises, to win exclusive commercial contracts for itself overseas
d) enjoys diplomatic status and privileges overseas, even as it goes about seeking financial advantage for itself
e) enjoys charitable status at home, despite its clear governmental purpose and its role as the servant of the FCO
f) uses a wholly owned limited company to win corporate sponsorship contracts from international companies which provide it with their private sector cash in order to be able to profit from the organisation’s taxpayer funded diplomatic status and network
g) has employees who enjoy early retirement and participation in the taxpayer funded civil service pension scheme
h) despite its massive public subsidies is at liberty to “compete” with private sector enterprises at home and abroad which have no public subsidy and are obliged to pay tax, cover all their own overheads, make their own way, fund their own pensions etc. Was ever a playing field less even?
As noted above, the plan now is to outsource some of the organisation’s overhead to India. To put that another way, the British taxpayer is to pay for its public servants to be employed in India rather than in the UK. As I believe Indians would agree if the situation were reversed, when British taxpayers’ money is used to employ people in other countries for no other reason than that a publicly funded organisation, despite its massive subsidies and privileges and special status and unique business opportunities and government contracts, unlike the rest of us, cannot organise its affairs satisfactorily at home, a line has been crossed. The British Council has no right to use our money in this way and should be stopped.
* The Pollyanna principle or Pollyannaism describes the tendency for people to agree with positive statements describing themselves.