Loyalty, ambition, betrayal, vomit and sudden violent death 

My time in local government 

I have always (nearly always) been loyal but sometimes my dissent was taken as disloyalty. I have always been ambitious but didn’t realise just how ambitious till I repeatedly put myself and my family through the torture that is the recruitment process for a directors post. Sometimes you have to make your committee reports graphic if you want your capital bid for new premises to stand out. The biggest act of betrayal was not mine but my bosses in ousting the Director by shopping him to members and then taking up the vacant post. Violence and death came later as I supported the coroner in his work. 

You don’t run down your own Authority to colleagues in Health or to recruitment consultants. You don’t bad mouth your boss ( whilst your still working in the organisation and only very selectively after wards). You don’t criticise colleagues to members ( the jobs tough enough). And you don’t criticise members ( in public) and never to another member even if encouraged to do so. 


I have managed talented individuals who were not ambitious, sometimes because of commitments out side of work, some times because they didn’t want the hassle. I have managed individuals whose ambition out striped their talent. The first needs encouraging the second discouraging.Easier said, you can offer flexible working and provide reassurance that effectiveness rather than long hours is expected but it not always enough. As to those who are over confident in their own ability, as the saying goes people tend rise to their level of incompetence.  


In my experience betrayal is linked to loyalty and ambition. Some one wants your job and they are prepared to undermine you, and bad mouth you behind your back probably whilst claiming to be a  supporter to your face. But betrayal isn’t just about disloyalty and overriding ambition its what happens to your professional and personal values when decisions are finance led rather than practice driven. 


My portfolio of responsibilities included the Registrars  service ( births, deaths and marriages).Some of the buildings from which this service operated were old and difficult to access. One in particular was in the old part of town next to a notorious back street pub. It was not unknown for the bride to have to lift up her dress as the wedding party stepped over a pool of vomit on the door step from the night before. 

Violence and death 

Any sudden or violent death is referred to the coroner. The area he covers is big and includes a long stretch of motorway, two large hospitals and a prison. There are a back log of cases including a sensitive and high profile death in police custody. The coroner is independent but we employ him, provide the accommodation, the admin and IT support. When recruiting the coroner some additional admin support I asked if there were any special requirements for the post he replied “ a strong stomach as the reports can be very graphic and pictures rather gruesome”. 

Blair Mcpherson former Director of Community Services www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 



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